What a glorious Irish summer we have been enjoying. It reminds me of the idyllic summers of my Wexford childhood or my rose-tinted memories of them anyway. Irish seaside holidays are back in fashion. Duncannon is teeming with families, small children licking 99 ice-creams, trailing sandy towels up the tiny main street, teenagers in languid groups chatting, the beach packed with cars acting as windbreaks for impromptu picnics of sandwiches, crisps and fizzy drinks, the picnics of my childhood, the new playground a hive of energetic activity as little ones “wheeeee” down the long slide, even the grown ups getting in on the act in the adult playground, the familiar sounds of the commentary from weekend GAA matches echoing down the strand on car radios as we all tune in with bated breath to the latest Wexford hurling performance.
Up the hill our little Duncannon house is an oasis of calm by comparison. It is perfect weather for barbecuing and last Sunday I organised a family get together to mark my Mum’s and my birthday the previous week. My extended family are now beginning to put in special requests for their favourites from the Big Green Egg – “any chance of those fantastic spareribs?” (Adam Perry Lang’s Reliable Pork Spareribs) “or that beef that Jack said was the best ever?” (Adam Perry Lang’s “Get a Book” Whole Beef Brisket). Well no actually, the chef had other plans. On the menu last Sunday were
Shananigans Pulled Pork
Beer Can Chicken
Chilli Crusted Rack of Lamb
not to mention steak, burgers, sausages and lots of vegetable dishes. Tis far from chilli crusted rack of lamb they were all reared…
As I get more used to cooking with the Big Green Egg, the full versatility of this all in one kamado oven, smoker and grill is becoming more apparent. If I get up early enough I can have the pork butt on by 7 am cooking low and slow and later there is lots of space to cook the beer can chicken and to add the racks of lamb while the pork is resting, tweaking the temperature up as needed.
We cooked the pork butt to my own recipe for Shananigans Pulled Pork, a recipe with a Chinese twist created with the help of the chef in Roches Bar in Duncannon. This time I injected the pork with an apple juice and sugar mix before cooking which made it even more tender and I’ve added that variation to the original recipe.
We served it Chinese style with thin Chinese pancakes, the type used for Peking Duck, homemade hoi sin sauce from the recipe on my blog post for Peking-style Roast Duck, shredded carrots and spring onion. The sauce was a big hit with our visitors.
The rack of lamb is another Adam Perry Lang recipe – crusted with a chilli and wholegrain mustard blend and drizzled with herb oil before serving.
Nearly every BBQ cook has their own version of Beer Can chicken. Mine is a variation of yet another Adam Perry Lang recipe and is finger-licking good every time. Last Sunday my guests decided that it tasted particularly good drizzled with the hoi-sin sauce.
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 large free range or organic chicken
- 1 can larger beer such as Heineken
- Good quality charcoal lump wood
- A handful of apple or cherry wood chips, soaked (optional)
- ¼ cup rapeseed oil
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
Puree in a blender. The marinade will keep in the fridge for a week.
APL’s Seven Spice Dry Rub
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup paprika
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup chilli powder
- ¼ cup dry mustard powder
- 1 tbs ground black pepper
- 2 tsps Old Bay Seasoning
- ½ tsp ground ginger
Mix the ingredients in a jar and store for up to 6 months in the fridge. If you can’t find Old Bay Seasoning just omit or add another spice of your choice.
Cider Mop Spray
- ½ cup apple juice – I use Crinnaghtaun but any tart apple juice will work
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbs cider vinegar
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle. The spray will keep in the fridge for a week.
Preparation and Cooking (Allow at least 3 hours for cooking plus marinating the chicken overnight.)
- Coat the chicken generously in the marinade. Place in a freezer bag or covered dish and marinate overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature. Bring to room temperature for at least one hour before cooking.
- Prepare your Big Green Egg for indirect cooking with the plate setter legs up and stainless steel grill and heat to about 130 degrees C. Meanwhile soak a handful of apple or cherry wood chips in water. When the Egg is nearly at temperature, drain the wood chips and add to the charcoal. Place a drip tray on the plate setter under the grill and half fill with water.
- Discard half the can of beer or add it to the drip pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it upright on the beer can, legs down. Sprinkle with enough of the rub to coat. Don’t worry if there’s any excess. It will fall off during cooking. Carefully place the chicken and beer can on your stainless steel grill.
- After about an hour, when the rub has formed a nice crust, give it a spray with the cider mop spray and then spray it at about 30 minute intervals until an insta-read thermometer in the inner thigh reads 74 degrees c. This takes around 3 hours depending on the size of the chicken at the temperature of your BGE. Don’t let the drip tray dry out. Add more water if necessary.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and discard the beer can. Use mitts and be careful as the beer can gets very hot during cooking. Allow the chicken to rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Tips and variations
To oil your grill – to 1 cup of rapeseed oil add a few black peppercorns, 2 star anise a bay leaf, sprig of thyme and sprig of rosemary. Halve a red onion and stick a fork in the half with the root. Dip it in the flavoured oil and use it to brush your grill as needed during cooking.
Drip pan – I use and old roasting tin that fits in the BGE. You can also use a disposable roasting tin or deep pizza tray. I usually add the leftover beer to the drip pan.
If you don’t have a Big Green Egg – we have cooked this chicken successfully on indirect heat on our Outback covered gas BBQ by heating just the middle of 3 burners and placing the chicken to one side. It can be cooked on any covered BBQ, charcoal or gas.
Rotating your chicken during cooking – some recipes recommend rotating the chicken at intervals to make sure all sides are cooking evenly. I don’t find this necessary on the BGE but it may be a useful step if you are cooking on another type of charcoal or gas barbecue.
Ways with leftovers
Sichuan Chicken Salad
Last Monday night I needed a Sichuan fix so I used the leftover chicken in the recipe for Spicy Sichuan Salad which I had learnt how to make at Hutong Cuisine cookery school in Beijing last year. This is a very tasty summer salad and the smokey, succulent chicken works perfectly in it.
Beer Can Chicken Legs with BBQ Sauce
Adam Perry Lang likes to halve his chicken, glaze it with diluted BBQ sauce and return it to the grill on direct heat for about 15 minutes until it is crisp and glazed. I don’t bother with this step because we love the flavour of the roasted chicken but I have glazed leftover chicken legs and wings and popped them under the grill the next day for a very tasty Monday night supper. You can use any good quality BBQ sauce or your favourite homemade recipe.