Slow-Roasted Chicken on a Beer Can
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1 medium roaster chicken
1 can (12 ounces) cold beer (any variety you like to drink)
Set an oven rack in the lowest position in the oven. Remove the upper racks. Heat the oven to 175 degrees, or as low as your oven will allow if its controls do not go this low.
Wash your hands well with soap. Remove the neck and bag of giblets, if included, from inside the chicken. Slide your fingertips underneath the skin at the neck opening and gently work the skin away from the meat. Use care to avoid tearing the skin as you pull it loose from the body; continue as far as you can reach on both the front and the back. Turn the chicken over, and repeat from the cavity opening at the base of the bird, making sure to loosen the skin on the drumsticks so that it is attached only at the wings and the ends of the legs.
Use a knife to pierce the skin at the foot end of each leg and at the tail end of the front and back. These small incisions will allow the cooking juices to drain away so that they don't soak into the skin.
Pour the contents of the beer can into a glass, and enjoy it at your leisure. Push the empty can into the tail end of the bird far enough that the chicken can stand upright as it rests on the can.
If the neck was included with the chicken, use it like a stopper to close up the opening at the top of the bird. Otherwise you can use a bulldog clip to pinch the skin closed so that steam inflates the loose skin like a balloon and holds it away from the damp meat as the chicken roasts.
Set a baking sheet in the oven. Insert the probe of an oven-safe thermometer into the deepest part of the chicken's thigh. Stand the chicken upright (on the can) on the baking sheet and roast until the core temperature reaches 145 degrees if you want the white meat to be juicy and tender; for more succulent dark meat, continue roasting to a core temperature of 150 degrees A medium-size roaster will need 3 to 4 hours.
After the first 30 minutes of roasting, check the effective baking temperature by inserting a digital thermometer through the skin to a depth of 3/8 inch. The temperature there should be within 5 degrees of the target core temperature (either 145 degrees or 150 degrees). If it is too high, open the oven door for several minutes; if too cool, increase the oven setting slightly. Repeat this check of the near-surface temperature every half-hour or so.
When the core temperature hits the target, take the chicken out and let it rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to its hottest baking setting. Don't use the broiler, but do select a convection baking mode if your oven has one.
Return the bird to the hot oven, turn on the light, and watch it carefully as it browns. The goal is crisp, golden brown skin. The skin will start to brown quickly, and browning will accelerate once it starts. So keep your eye on it. Once the chicken is browned, remove the can, carve the bird, and serve immediately, while the skin is still crispy.
The Cooking Lab
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