by wjw on June 20, 2007

When you comprehend the gist of this post, you will be thankful at the restraint I excercised in choosing a title. Really.
My old grill died of metal fatigue: the hinges that held on the lid snapped right off. So I’ve been on a quest for a new grill, and asking myself whether I wanted to be a charcoal purist or a far more serene and untroubled gas griller.
I decided to go for the convenience of the gas grill, and figured if I really hankered for the taste of something charcoal-grilled, I could buy myself a little hibachi.
The grill was delivered today, already assembled. (I bought the floor model.) With it I purchased a rotisserie, so that I could spit-roast meats the way God intended. I also bought myself a whole chicken, so that I could get started on the very first day.
The grille was delivered at nearly 6pm, and I hooked up the LP cylinder and started preheating. Then I began the business of assembling the rotisserie. It was only then that I discovered that assembly was not simple, and furthermore I had to assemble and bolt stuff to the grille, which was already hot.
I was hungry and didn’t want further delay, so obviously I needed another way to cook my chicken.
It was then that I bethought myself of Beer Up the Butt Chicken, in which an open can of beer is jammed up the chicken’s ventral orifice, and the chicken is cooked standing up. (About now you should be thanking me for my restraint in titling this post, as I predicted above.)
On the one hand, Beer Up the Butt Chicken sounds like a frat boy prank. But on the other hand, I’ve been told it produces a really good roast chicken.
I’ll cook anything once, nearly, but I decided to give myself some insurance, and rubbed the chicken inside and out with salt, garlic, and butter. Another problem showed itself: I had no beer. But I decided that Wine Up the Butt Chicken sounded at least as good, so I filled an empty soda can with white wine, inserted it, and then tried to balance the bird upright on my grille. No go. So I fetched a dutch oven from the pantry, stood the chicken upright therein, and put the whole thing on the grille. Eighty minutes later the chicken was beautifully cooked, the skin brown and crispy, and the juices sizzling. I took the chicken from the grille and grilled some vegetables, and also cooked some asparagus.
The chicken was wonderful: melt-off-the-bone tender, moist, and full of flavor. I ate far too much of it. And I’ll probably eat too much of it tomorrow, and the day after.
By which time I’ll have the rotisserie installed, and a series of grand experiments may begin.
Oz June 20, 2007 at 10:47 am

That whole assembly thing for the rotisserie is why we don’t use ours. That and our first experiment was chicken in brine, which our neighbors swore would be the best chicken we’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t. Soaking in brine isn’t our cup of tea.

Wine up the butt, huh?

Pat Mathews June 20, 2007 at 3:39 pm


Walter – as a simple (and simple-minded) home cook who wants to get some decent basic equipment, what would you suggest in the way of knives and cookware? I’m loking at functional and durable – like those indestructible steak knives of inox steel I picked up at a yard sale many years ago and have so misused.

Margot June 20, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Yes, Beer Can Chicken really works. I get my beer in bottles, so I put the beer in a soda can. The chicken balances OK on a Weber grill provided you involve the tibia “feet”. Maybe Weber grills have wider bars or tighter spacing than yours.

BTW, I read your blog, not to mention your books, regularly and with great enjoyment.

Derryl Murphy June 20, 2007 at 7:36 pm

I think I’ll try that wine enema chicken. Sounds like a marvelous idea.


qtera31 June 20, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Ok, Let me get this straight….you ply the bird with alcohol, while rubbing it down with butter and stuffing it. You are the Master of Meat!

dubjay June 20, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Pat, where kitchen equipment is concerned, I’m a believer in simplicity.

One high-quality skillet with lid. One small saucepan, one large saucepan, one stock pot, one dutch oven, all with lids. Mine are Farberware and I’ve had them for over 25 years without any trouble.

(I’m not sure I’d recommend Farberware at present, because last I heard they were made by slave labor in China. Which explains their very nice price.)

Add to this wok if you stir-fry. An omelette pan if you make a lot of omelettes. A griddle if you make griddle things.

Your best buy is a Costco membership. I see whole sets of quality kitchen ware there for more than reasonable prices.

As for utensils, you need one good-quality paring knife, one kitchen knife, one Chinese cleaver, one serrated bread knife, a wisk, some long-handled spoons and ladles, and a convenient selection of spatulae.

For baking you’d need to ask someone else.

Maureen? Res.A.? Have I left anything out?

SpeakerToManagers June 21, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Seems to me a “butt of wine” used to mean something very different. But that picture looks very tasty, so I’m not going to let arguments about archaic beverage measurements get in the way.

My own new grill is sitting (unassembled, though it was supposed to be delivered assembled) in a large box by the door to the deck, thanks to the wonders of modern supply chain management. The only reason it got there in the first place is my own willingness to spend 2 hours working my way through a call tree that had no complaint or customer service department, and a very poorly-designed voice recognition system. But as soon as I assemble it I’m going to try that wine-butt chicken. And I have a bottle of pinot blanc that should be perfect for it, so thanks for that picture and information.

I’ve noticed that SF in general doesn’t seem to address issues like that bad phone tree: what happens when spiffy technology is used in really poorly thought-out ways. Surely not all the nastiness of cyberpunk worlds like “Hardwired” come from evil; incompetence must have some place.

dubjay June 21, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Amen, Speaker.

Today I had to stand forever at the express line in the supermarket while the checker argued with her machine, which was insisting that my asparagus spears were in fact pinto beans.

“I’ll pay for the pinto beans!” I finally shrieked. “Let’s just get out of here!” But pinto beans cost far less per pound than asparagus, so we had to go through the whole thing.

Later I was trying to return a non-functioning product to Home Depot. It’s bad enough that the oscillating sprinkler didn’t oscillate, and that I had to drive back and forth from Home Depot in our 100-degree heat to get a new one, but once again the Service person had to argue with her computer. It took twenty minutes and a supervisor’s key to sort out the problem, whatever it was.

In the days of mechanical cash registers, the transaction might have taken all of thirty seconds.

While computers have their uses, such as allowing me to communicate here to my sixty-odd fans instead of writing the books that might please thousands of readers, I have to remark, unoriginally, that these machines seem not to be living up to their advanced publicity.

Responsible Artist June 22, 2007 at 1:02 am

That’s why we have beer and wine, I think.

Mmm. Chicken enemas. Thanks for that image, Derryl

Decent home equipment: kitchen shears! My child worked at an upscale kitchen store and gave me a Bourgeat stainless saute pan with lid. It’s pretty incredible. I’ve thought about selling my jewelry to buy more but I don’t have enough jewelry.

dubjay June 22, 2007 at 1:15 am

And a roasting pan! I forgot the title of my original post.

The kitchen shears are most useful, particularly when dealing with the heavyweight plastic that so much comes wrapped in.

Bruce June 22, 2007 at 5:52 am

The greatest kitchen gadget, ever:

A swivel-bladed vegetable peeler.

Pat Mathews June 22, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Here’s what I have: two saucepans that fit inside each other so they are also a double boiler, so I can have two vegetables at dinner. A roasting pan I don’t use much because I don’t cook on that scale. A set of 3 frying pans from Walmart, lids scrounged from elsewhere, and a stock pot which I can’t do without.

Thanks for the tips on Costco and on the cooking knives, and thanks to everyone who has added their recommendations.

Derryl Murphy June 22, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Thanks, ResA. In pullus, veritas. Or something like that. Walter, you should have got an extra-long hose so you could have the sprinkler going in the car whil driving it back to Home Depot. That would keep you cool.


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