1 whole chicken, cleaned, washed, and patted dry

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 Tbsp. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning

2 tsp. salt and black pepper mixture

1 beer, 12-ounce can

1 very small whole potato

1 upright chicken holder*

1 large baking pan

One of those recipes you can do at home in the oven, or outside on the barbecue grill, or even on the smoker at a tailgate party, drunk chicken (also referred to sometimes as 'tipsy chicken') probably produces some of the most intense flavor the slow-cooking process can produce. The inside comes out unbelievably juicy because of the steaming effect of the beer (which also adds rich, but subtle, flavors because of the barley, malt, and hops), and the outside comes out super, crunchy, crispy because of the dry heat that surrounds the bird as it cooks. Oh, yeah...this is done uncovered! And here's how it's done:

First fire up either the barbecue grill (heat source on one side, no heat on the side the chicken will cook on) or the kitchen stove (the proper temperature setting is 350 degrees). Then after cleaning the chicken extremely well, taking care to remove all the debris left inside the cavity and washing the bird inside and out, pat it dry with paper towels.

At this point, rub down the chicken-again, inside and out-with the olive oil. Then, by gently loosening the skin on the breast with your fingers, slide two sprigs of the fresh rosemary between the skin and the breast meat, one on either side. Then liberally sprinkle on the poultry seasoning and the salt and pepper mixture and briskly rub it into the chicken with your hands.

Next, open the can of beer and either drink or pour out about a third of it. Then place the chicken on top of the beer can so that it 'squats' in place. In the old days, even back in the days of the Depression, aficionados who cooked drunk chicken regularly would have to proceed with caution, since often times the chicken would topple over, the beer would all spill out, the flames would be doused, and the chicken sometimes never cooked. These days, though, there are special 'holders' you can get which are designed to support the can as well as the chicken and which keep it from toppling.

When the chicken rests atop the can of beer the way you want it, set the chicken, the can, and the holder into a baking pan (which will catch the natural drippings). Then plug the neck hole of the chicken with the potato to keep steam from escaping. And finally, slide the pan into the oven or onto the grate of the barbecue grill. From this moment on, do not open the oven, lift the BBQ cover, or peek at the chicken in any way whatsoever.

The next thing you'll do is remove the chicken from the oven or barbecue pit in 1-1/2 to 2 hours (depending upon the size of the chicken), take it off the beer can and the holder, and cut it into serving size pieces. You're going to find that it's magnificently flavored, virtually maintenance free, and very low in cholesterol and fat (unless you fold a batch of poached veggies and creamer potatoes into the drippings!).

Just one little note-if you have always made do with one chicken for your meals, you might want to cook two whenever you fix 'Drunk Chicken!'


Chef's Hints

1-A great accompanying vegetable side dish mirapoix-and one that is also hassle-free-could be concocted with a combination of A-size creamer potatoes, fresh green beans, bias-cut peeled carrots, and quartered baby Portabella mushrooms. The mixture can either be steamed in a deep-sided, covered skillet in chicken broth until just tender or poached in light seafood boil seasoning until tender crisp or smothered down until done in a crockpot. Whichever way you decide to prep them, when they are almost done transfer them to the baking pan holding the chicken so that as the chicken roasts its natural juices drip into the veggies to season and flavor them. Add a little butter to finish off the vegetables just before serving and sprinkle lightly with extra salt and pepper if necessary.

2-Salt and black pepper mix can be homemade by combining two parts of salt to one part of coarsely ground black pepper and stashing it in an airtight container.

3-To prepare this recipe properly, only regular beer should be used. Do not use 'light' beer as a substitute. Of course, you can add whatever special flavors you like to the beer-soy sauce, Worcestershire, liquid crabboil, you name it. And, of course, if you'd prefer to go with alcohol-free alternatives, you can substitute your favorite cola, lemonade, ginger ale, apple juice, etc. in place of the 'brew.'

4-If you're really, really careful, you might be able to 'balance' your chicken just on top of the beer can. But several principal sources supply holders and racks for cooking drunk chicken. They can be found on the Internet and range in price from $10 to $180. I got the one I used on the show from Cajun Chickcan, c/o Flip-N-Fry, Dept. CC, 1-800-615-5740 (cost was $10.50 plus tax and shipping) and it works just fine. Actually, since I usually cook for a crowd, I bought three. You might want to pick up at least one extra one.

5-If you plan to do the recipe on the barbecue grill, light one side of the grill but not the other, and cook the chicken on the unlighted side to utilize 'incidental heat' and to minimize flare-ups. This is not a problem when doing the recipe in the oven. But again, do not wrap the chicken in foil!

6-To make certain the chicken is cooked to perfection, I recommend you use a meat thermometer and continue to roast the bird until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.

7-Oh, yeah. . and be very careful how you handle the can after the cooking time has elapsed. The beer (and the can) could still be extremely hot! Don't get burned!