If You’ve Got ‘Em, Smoke ‘Em (The Chicken Chronicles, Chapter [N])

Some of you may recall I have a roast chicken obsession.  Been a while since we’ve talked about my problem here, but now’s the time.

Yesterday I mashed together a couple of recipes to come up with this:

That would be Peruvian/beer can chicken, smoked on Weber grill.

The Peruvian stuff is here.  Doubled the marinade for the two chickens.  Spooned it all over under the skin; rubbed the left-overs on the outside.

Took two beer cans, drank half the contents of each,* and  proceeded as directed here: putting the half-empty cans in the cavity, and setting both chickens upright, using the legs to make a tripod. (Forgot this bit: I let the chickens rest (not vertically) for about three hours coming up to room temperature from the fridge before shoving the beer can up their butts and getting ready to sit them on the fire.)

Then: about a chimney full of good charcoal (lump hardwood), a few more chunks once I dumped the chimney out.  When the coals were red with just a grey rim, I tossed on two handfuls of soaked wood chips; made sure the whole smokey mass was to one side of the grill; placed the cooking grated and set the chickens on the cool side of the Weber with their backs to the coals.

Next, I covered the Weber, with the air holes in the lid almost completely open, and let ’em go.  I checked them first at about 15 minutes, and again ten minutes later, when I shut the air vent down a little — maybe to two-thirds open — in a probably feckless gesture at getting a little more smoke.  About ten minutes after that, they were done — in the state you see in the photo above.

I also made the cilantro-feta green sauce from the first link, which I can’t recommend too highly; it’s kind of like a creamy chimichurri.  The other minor note: it’s worth picking up the Peruvian chile pastes.  I tried doing this with substitutes and it just doesn’t come out with the same pop.

In any event, when we got the chicken to the table it was, by general consensus, simply the best chicken we’d ever had.  The Peruvian flavor was present, but not overwhelming; ditto the smoke.  The thigh meat was perfect and yet the breast was not overdone.  It was as moist as any bird I’ve ever had — I’m guessing the combination of the vertical cooking position and the moisture from the beer does some kind of magic.

In the midst of the holy hell that is daily life, I have to say it was a pure pleasure to try something new (to me) and have it come out just right, better than imagined.

(We were cooking for very good friends, and the rest of the meal was not shabby either.  I’ll save the salmon bacon post for later.)

Anyway, the thread is open, but I’d like to know if any of y’all want to share any of your similar experiences:  something you cooked or ate that gave you inordinate pleasure.

Over to you, jackals-with-bibs.

*Of the two, the Snaggle Tooth Bandana IPA was really nice.



64 replies
  1. 1
    Sandia Blanca says:

    That looks amazing, but sounds like a whole lot of work. Can we just drop by and have some of yours? ;->

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    Those be some BIG chickens.

  3. 3
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Sandia Blanca: Less than you’d think. (Work, I mean.) The marinade takes about fifteen minutes to assemble and pulse in the minichop. I let the chickens stand at room temperature for three hours or so before cooking. Then, it’s just a matter of firing up a barbecue and looking in at it from time to time. No basting or anything…

    @NotMax: Nah. Three and three-and-a-half pounds.

  4. 4
    Shell says:

    Looks like a serious chicken con-fab in that grill.
    (Resisting temptation to make any snarky comments about their orange color.)

  5. 5
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Shell: Kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it. Not suggesting any To Serve Man jokes here, but if that’s where you’re going, I’m not going to stop you.

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    I’m sure that just this time, the NYTimes wouldn’t mind you copying and pasting this recipe. Until the Hillary email crap, I was a long time subscriber to the NYTimes, and still get the puzzles, but that’s it.

  7. 7
    Gin & Tonic says:

    If your ‘ritin’ and my readin’ and ‘rithmetic are correct you cooked those birds for 35 minutes? That’s it?

  8. 8
    Kayla Rudbek says:

    @Tom Levenson: 3 hours at room temperature? Isn’t that going to be a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria?

  9. 9
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Gin & Tonic: 35 or 40. Checked them rigorously — knife to joint in the thighs. It’s so easy to undercook on a grill that I stab those babies to make sure.

    @Kayla Rudbek: I wouldn’t suggest doing it for very long, but it’s coming up from refrigerator cold and then goes into a very hot cooking process. It would be better, I think, to prep them in the morning and then pull them out of the fridge about an hour before cooking, but this is OK, I think. YMMV.

  10. 10
    efgoldman says:

    @Sandia Blanca:

    Can we just drop by and have some of yours?

    Some of us don’t have pricey Weber grills.
    Last nite we had old friends over. A pound each of large shrimp and scallops on the grill. Very simple marinade: lemon juice and olive oil, pepper to taste. Also risotto which mrs efg should have made a day ahead because not difficult, but time consuming (have to keep stirring the liquid in).
    Home made lemon meringue pie, for our friend who can’t eat yellow #5 (in most commercial and restaurant pies)
    A good time was had by all
    A lovely evening all around

  11. 11
    Yutsano says:

    @Tom Levenson: FTFNYT and their damn firewall. Can’t see if the marinade has any acid in it. If so putting the chickens out for a few hours won’t hurt. And anything that does decide to grow will be killed by the cooking process anyway. So yeah there are several levels where that’s fine.

  12. 12
    Wag says:

    I’m a huge beer can chicken fan. I have a pair of stainless steel roasters, a single and a double, and use them every couple of weeks through the summer. I generally do a dry rub with plenty of salt, chilies, garlic, and brown sugar. The steam from the beer guarantees a moist bird.

  13. 13
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I made a kick ass pot roast using a 3lb brisket that I bought on sale this week. Threw it in the slow cooker with stock for a couple of hours, added onions, potatoes, carrots and peas for another hour, then mushrooms, celery and green beans for the last hour. It was absolutely beautiful. Fork tender. Also baked a loaf of home made bread that baked for the last hour and was perfect for dipping. Got to sleep now, the taters got me :)

  14. 14
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Yutsano: lime juice, and I think there’s some acid in the Chile pastes, so yeah.

  15. 15
    Wag says:

    @Kayla Rudbek:

    Yes, but campylobacter is usually self-limited, running its course in 7-10 days without antibiotics.

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    Yum. Now that is some art.

  17. 17
    Elizabelle says:

    NY Times recipe: Peruvian Roasted Chicken With Spicy Cilantro Sauce

    6 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste or another chile paste such as sriracha or sambal
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    1 teaspoon aji panca paste or 1 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 (3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound) chicken, halved (see Note) or 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
    Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

    1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
    3 to 4 jalapeños, seeded and diced
    ¼ cup/1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
    1 garlic clove, chopped
    1 ½ tablespoons lime juice, more to taste
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
    ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
    ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
    ½ tablespoon aji amarillo or other chile paste (see headnote)
    ½ teaspoon honey
    ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    Lime wedges, for garnish

    For the marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, soy sauce, aji amarillo paste, lime juice, aji panca paste, mustard, cumin, pepper and salt.

    Add chicken halves, turning to coat them all over with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
    Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil.

    Roast until skin is golden and chicken is cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes (if using chicken parts, remove the breasts after 25 to 35 minutes). Remove from oven and let sit, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before serving.

    While chicken is roasting, make the sauce. In a blender, blend cilantro, jalapeños, feta, garlic, lime juice, oregano, salt, mustard, aji amarillo paste, honey, and cumin until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until mixture is emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt or lime juice or both.

    Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce and lime wedges on the side.

    Tip: To cut a chicken in half, use a sturdy pair of poultry shears to cut lengthwise through the breastbone. Turn over and cut again, along the backbone. If desired, cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it.

    Commentary from recipe creator Melissa Clark:

    Burnished-skinned, deeply flavored and more than just a little spicy, it’s no wonder that Peruvian chicken has become something of an obsession here in the United States. There are dozens of way to make this dish, but most recipes call for two different kinds of Peruvian chile pastes — aji amarilla and aji panca — to add the necessary complexity and heat. You can find them at South American markets and online. But in a pinch, you can substitute a red chile paste (like sriracha or sambal) for the aji amarillo, and ground pasilla chile powder for the aji panca. The flavors won’t be traditional, but the chicken will still be tasty — especially when slathered with the irresistibly creamy, spicy cilantro sauce that goes alongside.

  18. 18
    Duane says:

    The March of the Sun-burned Chickens.

  19. 19
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Is this the right time in the thread for the traditional cilantro-hate?

  20. 20
    NotMax says:

    Noticed the absence of the usual inclusion of a topical fine art piece. Might I humbly suggest Still Life in Kitchen, attributed to Diego Velázquez?

  21. 21
    cope says:

    My go-to feel good meal is my smash burgers. One pound of 80/20 turned into 8 little balls, put 2 at a time into my medium high heat cast iron pan, smashed out, flipped when they get bloody on top and blanketed with cheese (American, muenster, anything that gets gooey). A lid on the pan makes the cheese melt quickly, before the meat over cooks. On to a slider bun with catsup and raw onion and I am transported back to my guileless and innocent youth when a cheeseburger was heaven for me.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    @Gin & Tonic

    Any time, any thread is perfect for that.

    Cilantro: How to ruin any dish in one easy step.

  23. 23
    debbie says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Any time is the right time to hate on cilantro.

  24. 24
    Elroy's Lunch says:

    Trade you some Peruvian beer can chicken for some fresh, off my dock, steamed Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs…

  25. 25
    Brachiator says:

    The chicken looks delicious. I will pass along a copy of the recipe to my sister.

    Some months back, I ran across a little Peruvian restaurant in the Los Angeles garment district. I had a chicken plate and it was wonderful.

    There are a couple of Mediterranean restaurants that do vertical roasting for chicken. I think this is my favorite method of doing chicken.

  26. 26
    debit says:

    Hah! All you cilantro hating freaks just leave all the more for me.

    ETA: I used to also hate cilantro, and yes, thought it tasted like particularly foul soap. Then I quit smoking and grew to love it.

  27. 27
    ThresherK says:

    Looks wonderful and sounds easier than it looks.

  28. 28
    Elizabelle says:

    I kinda like cilantro. Trader Joe’s makes a good cilantro salad dressing.

    That chicken does look amazing, and the two look like they’re conferring.

  29. 29
    debbie says:


    I quit smoking 25+ years ago and cilantro still takes like soap. And not even good soap! ;)

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    something you cooked or ate that gave you inordinate pleasure.

    Lamb Chops with Jelly Gravy

    6 lamb chops (I use shoulder chops. Loin chops would work but adjust cooking time to compensate for their thicker cut)
    1 tbl. fat or oil
    3 tbl. flour
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp.black pepper (or more to taste)
    1½ cup water
    3 tbl. red currant jelly

    Brown chops in oil in heavy skillet. Reduce heat and cook until done
    Remove chops and keep warm.
    Discard all but 4 tbl. fat from pan, sprinkle in flour and stir or whisk, loosening brown bits on skillet bottom.
    Simmer over low/medium heat just until flour mixture browns.
    Add salt, pepper and water.
    Cook, stirring or whisking, until smooth and thickness/thinness desired, then add jelly and stir until it melts in.
    Spoon sauce over heated chops before serving.

  31. 31
    satby says:

    The mushroom vendors at the market trim the bottoms off the maitake mushrooms (2 or 3 types) and usually just toss them, but they gave an almost 1 pound bag to me. So I made a mushroom ambrosia pesto sauce, browning them in butter with a little dry sherry and adding a jar of basil pesto. It ended up a little thin, so I made a roux with more butter and flour and stirred that in. Great over pasta, also will be nice over the steaks I’m cooking as soon as my son shows up.

  32. 32
    Yarrow says:

    I picked lima beans today and boiled them about 10-15 minutes. Just a quick toss in butter and lemon and YUM. I have also added sage to them in the past but was lazy today.

  33. 33
    satby says:

    @Elizabelle: I like cilantro too. We just have the right genes 😉.

  34. 34
    Elizabelle says:

    @Yarrow: Lemon for lima beans. Will try that. I love lima beans. I usually pop in some tarragon.

    Sage sounds good too.

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:

    @satby: I know, and it comes down to that, too.

  36. 36
    satby says:

    @Yarrow: mmmm! I have to look for them at the market this week.

  37. 37
    satby says:

    @Elizabelle: are we twins 😊?

  38. 38
    NotMax says:


    Absolute must to taste test the sherry in order to be sure it hasn’t gone ‘off.’ May take multiple samples to be completely certain.


    When sauteeing mushrooms, like to give them a light splash of Jack Daniels (not gonna use the expensive stuff for that) after their own water has cooked off, then let that cook off as well. Infuses them with a little something extra and intensifies their own flavor.

  39. 39
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Rotisserie chicken is the best. $6.99 at the supermarket is a steal.

  40. 40
    Yarrow says:

    @Elizabelle: I found a recipe for lima beans in lemon butter. I’ve made it that way ever since. I just love them.
    @satby: I fell in love with fresh lima beans last summer. They’re so tender and take no time to cook. Love them.

  41. 41
    NotMax says:

    @Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)

    Five smackers at Costco. Larger than the supermarket ones, too.

    Why Costco Will Never Raise the Price of Rotisserie Chicken

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    @Elizabelle: Thanks.. I copied that and Tom’s directions.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:

    @NotMax: Will have to try a Costco chicken. Usually get them at Kroger. A rotisserie bird is such a help. Easy to come up with the good sides.

    Corn on the cob and tomatoes (or caprese salad) in summer. Lima beans. Yum.

  44. 44
    Shell says:

    Had some soft-shelled crabs testerday, first ones of the season, and they… were… lovely!

  45. 45
    donnah says:

    Hate cilantro, ugh.

    Anyhoo, dinner here was delish, with salmon marinated in soy sauce, garlic, a bit of sesame oil, and black pepper, then grilled. I sliced carrots and parsnips and sauteed them in butter with salt and pepper, drizzling them honey at the end. I also boiled new potatoes, (red, white and blue little ones) and draining them and then cooking them in the skillet with melted butter and garlic until the edges wete crispy.

    Hoo boy, summer is the best time to cook!

  46. 46
    MoxieM says:

    Looks like they’re having a good chat in the sauna/smoker. I bet they were yummy. And, applause for cooking outside in this heinous weather.

    Tastes like chicken!

  47. 47
    Elizabelle says:

    @donnah: That sounds lovely. Needs fresh corn!

  48. 48
    tobie says:

    That chicken picture somehow brings to mind “Amelia Bedelia” for me. Put little aprons on them and you’ll come close to Amelia’s idea of dressing a chicken.

  49. 49
    NotMax says:


    Tip: bring along a plastic bag large enough to slip the packaged rotisserie chicken into. All too easy for vibrations/bumps during the car ride to open a sliver of the seam where the top plastic dome attaches to the bottom plastic piece of the chicken package just enough for the liquid collected in the bottom to slosh about, particularly if the bottom tray shifts from sitting totally flat.

  50. 50
    donnah says:


    I forgot! We had that, too! A local market brings it in daily, along with tomatoes, cukes, beans, onions, and melons. My husband grills sweet corn just about every night!

  51. 51
    tobie says:

    I don’t know if anyone has linked to Dave Weigel’s latest frontage piece on the Post website: The Midwest eases its Trump swoon and flirts again with Democratic candidates. I’m just giddy that after all the media Trump swoons, the press would finally pay attention to the number of victories the Democrats have racked up in special elections this year. Yeah!

  52. 52
    efgoldman says:

    @ Flying Toaster around tonite?

  53. 53
    Aleta says:

    @Elizabelle: thanks !

  54. 54
    KsSteve says:

    3 hours on the counter and 35 minutes cooking? Good luck with that. Please update in about 8 hours if able

  55. 55
    Tom Levenson says:

    @KsSteve: day later. All good for all five victims

  56. 56
    Misamericanthrope says:

    Came across a popcorn article in the FTFNYT that suggested making it with 1/3 cup popcorn to 1/2 cup grapeseed oil. Or a combo of butter and grapeseed oil, but the same proportions. I was skeptical but decided to try it. And……Holy Shit! Best. Popcorn. Ever! Was expecting a pool of oil to remain, but it was gone. Coated it with nutritional yeast and salt. Delicious!

  57. 57
    Elizabelle says:

    @NotMax: Ooh, thank you. Will do. A friend has asked me to get him a big jar of sundried tomatoes when I next Costco.

    @Aleta: and JPL: Happy to oblige. Got to get some value out of the Vichy Times, since I do not read their whack political coverage.

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:

    @Misamericanthrope: You of the beautiful photos. And now: memorable popcorn. Which I guess we will all need, in coming months.

  59. 59
    JPL says:

    @Tom Levenson: It’s not the best picture you posted, just sayin. It looks delicious though, and I can’t wait to try it.

  60. 60
    Misamericanthrope says:

    @Elizabelle: Haha! Thanks for remembering my pics! Give the popcorn a try. It was so much better than I expected. It even made the cheap stuff from Walgreen’s into a quality product. The article also suggested other dry ingredients to add as a topping, such as dried rosemary. Looks like I have more experimenting to do!

  61. 61
    Kathleen says:

    @Tom Levenson: This could be considered as “chicken related”, but did you see this from Herself?

    With exception of breaking news and my own stories, taking a break from this platform. No reason or prompt other than that it’s not really helping the discourse Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT)

    Poor Magas. We snippy mangy mutts snapping at her heels in an uncivil manner are too much for someone of her stature to endure.

  62. 62
    efgoldman says:


    We snippy mangy mutts snapping at her heels in an uncivil manner are too much for someone of her stature to endure

    She still getting paid? Fuck her

  63. 63
    JPL says:

    @Kathleen: Maybe she’s tired of defending the indefensible. After all tomorrow is the president’s big debut with Putin, why not sign off now.

  64. 64
    Elizabelle says:

    @Kathleen: Definitely chicken-related. LOL.

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