Feta-Brined Beer Can Chicken

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"Beer can chicken" has become an increasingly common way to do birds on the barbecue, and there's certainly a reason why. Allowing the beer to steam inside the cavity of the chicken keeps the meat really moist and tender, which is often a problem when cooking whole poultry with high heat. 

While the beer does help build some flavor, your chicken won't end up tasting like beer, so it really doesn't matter what kind of beer you use (this isn't comparable to the if-you-won't-drink-it-don't-cook-with-it wine rule). The real purpose of the brew is to keep the meat from drying out. Pair this method with a flavorful feta brine, like I've done here, and you will end of with the juiciest chicken you've ever tasted. In truth, using one method or the other will give you a moist bird, but the combination together will give you a seriously flavorful and succulent bird. Since you're barbecuing (or roasting), the skin will still crisp up nicely, encasing the tender meat. 

Feta-Brined Beer Can Chicken

1 5-ounce block quality feta

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

3 cloves garlic

1 small free-range chicken

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 can beer

In a food processor or blender, purée feta, oregano, tarragon, thyme, garlic, and enough water to form a smooth liquid (about 1 cup). Place chicken into a large stockpot and cover in feta brine. Fill stockpot with enough water to just cover chicken. Add bay leaf and stir. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, ideally overnight. 

Heat barbecue to high, or preheat oven to 375ºF. 

Remove chicken from fridge about 20-30 minutes before cookings; transfer to a paper towel-lined surface. Discard brine. Using paper towel to a clean tea towel, dry chicken completely. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; rub over chicken and under skin. 

Open beer can and drink half the beer; if it's before midday, pour half down out. If barbecue/oven space is limited and you have to cook your chicken breast-side up, the can will need to be about a quarter full so it doesn't spill when horizontal. Open end first, insert beer can into chicken cavity. 

Carefully transfer bird upright onto barbecue or onto a roasting pan and into the oven (or laying down, if needed). Roast until chicken is cooked through and skin is crisp, about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your bird, or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 165ºF in the thickest part of the leg. 

Remove from heat. Allow to rest 15-20 minutes. Carve as desired and serve. 

Serves 4-6