LEMONADE CAN CHICKEN
1 Tbsp lemonade powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp hickory-smoked salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 can (12 oz.) lemonade
1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lbs.)
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or oak), soaked for 1 hour in
water to cover, then drained
Rub: Put the lemonade powder, brown sugar, paprika, hickory salt, lemon pepper, garlic and onion powders and celery seed in a small bowl and stir to mix.
Chicken: Pop the tab off the lemonade can. Pour half of the lemonade (1/2 cup) into a measuring cup and set aside for the sauce. If cooking the chicken on the can, using a can opener that cuts triangular openings, make 2 additional holes in its top. Set the can aside.
Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out under cold running water, and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the rub inside the body cavity and 1 teaspoon inside the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle the oil over the outside of the bird and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tablespoon rub and rub it all over the skin. Set aside 2 teaspoons of rub for the sauce. Spoon the remaining rub into the lemonade through a hole in the top of the can.
To cook on a can: Hold the bird upright, with the opening of the body cavity at bottom, and lower it onto the can so the can fits into the cavity. Pull the chicken legs forward to form a sort of tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear leg of the tripod is the can. Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center.
When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through (about 180°F. on an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh, but not touching the bone), 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after an hour. If the chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.
If cooking on a can: Using tongs, hold the bird by the can and carefully transfer it in an upright position to a platter.
Present the bird to your guests. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift it off the can. Take care not to spill the hot lemonade or otherwise burn yourself. Halve, quarter or carve the chicken and serve with Lemonade-Mustard Sauce.
Serves 2 to 4.
Note: This is a twist on beer-can chicken: a bird roasted upright over an open can of lemonade. The rub is made with powdered lemonade mix (the “secret” ingredient in a lot of Kansas City rubs), while the barbecue sauce combines lemonade, brown sugar and mustard.
LEMONADE MUSTARD SAUCE
1 Tbsp butter
2 to 3 shallots, or 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup lemonade (reserved from Lemonade Chicken)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the lemonade, raise the heat to high, and let boil until reduced to 2 tbsp., about 5 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest. Lower the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer until thick and richly flavored, about 5 minutes, whisking from time to time.
Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and more lemon juice to taste. This sauce goes great with any sort of poultry, with pork, and even with rich, grilled fish, such as swordfish or salmon.
Makes about 1 cup.