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Drink half, save other half to cook chicken

Beer adds moisture, rub adds spice to poultry prep

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Cheryl Davis was looking for a rub for beer-can chicken. Thanks to Linda Snider, who sent in a recipe for the rub, as well as the chicken. I also tried out an all-purpose barbecue rub.

Former Winnipegger Cheri Lee is hoping for a recipe for dry breaded veal balls, like the ones the 4 Seasons restaurant in Southdale makes. She hasn't been able to find a version in Toronto.

If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub

60 ml (1/4 cup) brown sugar, packed

45 ml (3 tbsp) sweet paprika

45 ml (3 tbsp) ground black pepper

45 ml (3 tbsp) coarse salt

15 ml (1 tbsp) hickory-smoked salt (optional)

10 ml (2 tsp) garlic powder (not garlic salt)

10 ml (2 tsp) onion powder (not onion salt)

10 ml (2 tsp) celery seed

5 ml (1 tsp) dry mustard

2 ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper, or to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to mix. (Use your fingers to break up any lumps of brown sugar.) Rub can be used on pork, ribs or chicken. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

Tester's notes: The smoky salt adds an intriguing taste. You can find smoked salt in some supermarkets and bulk food stores. If using fine table salt instead of the coarse salt, you should cut the amount by half.

Beer-Can Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken, about 1.4 kg (3 lbs)

5 ml (1 tsp) dried oregano

5 ml (1 tsp) garlic powder

15 ml (1 tbsp) onion powder

5 ml (1 tsp) sweet paprika

5 ml (1 tsp) ground ginger

5 ml (1 tsp) dried sage

15 ml (1 tbsp) black pepper

5 ml (1 tsp) coarse sea salt

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 x 355-ml (12-oz) can beer

Take chicken out of fridge 30 minutes before cooking and let come to room temperature. Preheat the grill to high or oven to 230 C (450 F). Wash chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. (See tester's notes.) In small bowl, combine oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ginger, sage, pepper and salt. Rub some of the mixture inside the cavity of the chicken. Gently separate the skin of the breast and rub some of the mixture into the meat under the skin, spreading well. Rub the remaining mixture onto the outside of chicken on all sides. Open beer and pour out about 125 ml (1/2 cup). Add smashed garlic cloves to can. Place chicken's cavity over the can so that the chicken is "standing up," and place chicken and beer can into an ovenproof skillet (if using oven) or a foil pan (if using grill). Cook chicken for 10 minutes at high heat and then reduce grill or oven temperature to 160 C (325 F) or low-medium, and cook (covered, if using the grill), for about another 60-75 minutes or until internal temperature of thick part of thigh registers 74 C (165 F) on a meat thermometer. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Tester's notes: I've never done a beer-can chicken before and it was juicy inside, crisp outside and flavourful all through.

We're old-school charcoal types at my place, and use a kettle grill. This offers great taste but it can be hard to regulate the temperature, which is a hair-raising problem when chicken is involved. We cooked the chicken, covered, in a bed of foil at the bottom of the kettle, and banked up coals all around to supply indirect medium heat. We also added coals midway through the process (total time was more than 90 minutes) to keep up the heat. You need constant medium heat so that the chicken cooks through on the inside before getting charred on the outside. Make sure the internal temp registers 165 F -- temperature will continue to rise a bit after removal from grill-- and juices run clear.

You'll probably want to use a 355-ml can of beer rather than a 710-ml can, which makes the whole setup pretty tall and difficult to fit in the oven or under the grill cover.

Oh, and regarding washing the bird, the latest expert advice is that you shouldn't rinse raw chicken, as this practice can actually spread bacteria rather than eliminating it. Just pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2014 C11

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