As much as I hate to admit it, warm summery days are becoming few and far between, but there's still plenty of grilling days left to take advantage of! I'm one of those people who uses their grill every chance I get. I just love the smoky wonderfulness of food cooked on the grill. At this time of year, however, particularly here in Newfoundland, the weather really isn't conducive to hanging out on the patio sipping on a cool beverage while the food cooks. So what can you grill that doesn't have to be turned and babied constantly? How about Beer Can Chicken...without the beer...or the can?
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I have reservations about sticking our food on a painted aluminum can and letting it cook. I don't know what's in that paint nor where that can has been. As luck would have it, while strolling through my local dollar store one day, I found the solution to my dilemma...a non-stick chicken roaster for the grill. It only costs me $5, works like a charm and is easy to clean. Not only that, but I can add whatever liquid I want to flavour my chicken with, which pleases me to no end. (I do love options!).
I happen to be very partial to thyme and white wine when it comes to chicken. So, after removing the neck and giblets, and rinsing my bird inside and out and patting it dry with paper towels., I seasoned it on the inside with a little ground sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and dried thyme. Then I placed the chicken on the dollar store roasting rack, brushed it all over with extra virgin olive oil, and generously rubbed it with more dried thyme. Instead of beer, I added just over 1/2 cup of pinot grigio to the pan. Turning on only one side of the grill, I preheated it to 350F and placed the chicken on the roasting pan on the side not heated, so that it cooked using indirect heat, which works pretty much the same way as an oven. Keeping the cover down, I cooked the chicken for an hour and 15 minutes, giving it a quarter turn every 15 minutes or so, just so it cooked and browned evenly. When I stabbed it with a knife and the juices were clear, I knew it was cooked. Of course, you could always do it the proper way use a meat thermometer. If the internal temperature is 165F when inserted into the breast, and 180F when inserted into the thigh, you'll also know it's cooked.
I had gotten some fresh local beets at the Farmer's Market earlier in the week, so I peeled them and let them boil for about 45 minutes until they were soft when pierced with a fork. Then I simply removed them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, placed them in a dish, sliced them and seasoned with melted butter, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. While most people probably are accustomed to having pickled beets, we actually prefer them unpickled and warm. To add to this meal, I cooked some basmati rice in no-salt added chicken broth and seasoned it with finely chopped green onions.
Once the beets were in the pot and the chicken was on the grill, all I had to do was sit back and wait for it to cook. I poured a nice glass of the same pinot grigio for my 81 year old mother and I, and she and I partnered against my father and my husband in a friendly little `best of 3`card game. (Mom and I won, much to the chagrin of my husband and father!). By the time the last card was played, it was time to take the chicken off of the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
The chicken was moist and juicy and the simple flavourings of thyme and white wine didn`t overpower. Cuddled up next to the warm beets and simple rice on the plate, it was the perfect light dinner. Given the simplicity of the meal, for dessert, because as far as my mom is concerned, a meal simply isn`t complete unless there`s dessert, I bought some pre-made individual Angel Food Cake Cups in the bakery section of my local grocery store, topped them with fresh local strawberries and a dollop of Cool Whip Free. It was low-cal, low sugar, low fat, and just the right amount of sweet to end off this September meal.
Beer Can Chicken...without the beer...or the can, warm fresh beets, simple savory basmati rice, and dessert of light individual angel food cake cups with fresh strawberries and Cool Whip. Dinner doesn't have to be complicated to be easy, healthied-up, inexpensive and delcious and this meal delivered on all counts!