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Impromptu Beer-B-Q: An Easy Grilled Chicken Recipe Using a Pale Ale

The wet and chilly weather will break again soon, and the backyard grill will tempt. Pocket this grilled chicken recipe for that moment. It's easy and delicious—and made with beer.

Grillin’ season is one of my favorites. Whether you use a good old charcoal Weber or a top of the line stainless steel beast, barbecue smells and tastes like summer. And what goes better with smoky barbecue and stunning sunshine than a fresh poured beer? Nothing!

So with a quick run to the Strip for some treats and a look in the husband’s beer fridge, a gluttonous Sunday Beer-B-Q meal became a thing. My neighbors probably love and hate me for making them smell my experiments on the grill all summer long.

The menu: a pale ale and herb-brined organic chicken, and the side dishes I made were heirloom tomato and basil salad, crimini mushroom bacon roasted potatoes and a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and shaved parmesan.

We grilled on the Weber, over hard wood charcoal with apple wood chips. 

The brined chicken is best devoured with a cold summer ale and more of both of my husband’s homebrews—the pale ale and smoked wheat beer (I know, sounds weird, but it’s quite delicious).

Our BeerBQ ended with a tremendous feast as the sun set, the stereo played and the cribbage board came out. Porch sitting season was game on for another year.

And we all lived happily ever after because the dishes FINALLY learned to do themselves. What? It could happen!

Recipe: Pale Ale Herb Brined Organic Chicken

-        whole chicken

-        ½ cup sugar

-        ½ cup salt

-        2 bay leaves

-        1 tsp black peppercorns

-        1 tbsp Herbes de Provence

-        1 tbsp thyme

I use a whole organic chicken. You don’t have to use a whole chicken. You don’t have to use organic chicken. But, in my opinion, the whole organic is best.

The beer I used for this was my husband’s homebrewed pale ale. It’s golden in color, has grassy hops, and a light-toasty malt character.

Put 6 cups of hot water in a deep pot. Add your sugar, salt, bay leaves, corns, Herbes de Provence, thyme and bring to a boil. When the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove the pot from the stove and add enough ice cubes to bring volume up to 8 cups. Stir to dissolve ice. Add 32oz of your pale ale and mix to combine.

Rinse the chicken and remove the gizzards. Place it in the brine and keep in the refrigerator overnight. If it won’t fit in the fridge, store it in a cooler of ice, just as long as it stays cold.

The next day, get your grill ready—charcoal or gas. Preheat it to around 350F over steady low-medium heat. I use an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Get an aluminum can, like a soup can. Remove the label and rinse it out. Remove the chicken from the brin, rinse and dry. Fill the soup can half way with brine and place the chicken over the can so it’s standing all by itself. I know it’s twisted, but trust me, it makes a damn good chicken.

Spray the outside with olive oil, then dust with thyme and Herbes de Provence. Place in a grill-friendly pan and roast to an internal temperature of 155-160F. Remove it from the grill and let stand on the can in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove your chicken from can and cut as desired.

You can serve your chicken family style on a platter garnished with fresh herbs beside your tomato and basil salad, and roasted potatoes. I also tossed together a quick key lime pie topped with whipped cream for dessert—a perfect tart and cool finish to a show-stopping dinner.

—by Mindy Heisler-Johnson, who blogs at mindybakes.com. Follow her on Twitter @mindybakes and check out her pro tips for cooking all kinds of foods with beer.

As a bonus, she also shares another recipe for braised chicken thighs with Belgian XX mushroom ragout. (You'll want to read this. Trust me.)

Impromptu Beer-B-Q originally published in Craft Pittsburgh, a quarterly magazine about the local craft beer industry. Pick up free copies at Sharp Edge Bistro in Sewickley and beer distributors along McKnight Road. Follow @CraftPittsburgh on Twitter

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