The Couscous Collective makes a lot of stuff, mostly comics, but also prints, engravings, scarves, profanity-riddled screenplays, and food. Lots of food. Since Andrew and I got a house in Berkeley, Sunday dinners have become a regular feature in the Couscous meeting schedule. This past Sunday, we embarked on one of our greatest dinner projects yet: beer-can chicken, the boozy queen of the barbecue. Keep reading for intense Southern-style culinary action and a bunch of pictures of chicken.
The dinner party was just Andrew, Liz and myself this Sunday, and we made approximately five times as much food as we needed. We’re always trying to bring Andrew a few steps closer to achieving his dream of gaining 200 pounds, buying a white seersucker suit, and retiring to Louisiana as a fat Southern guy. On other nights, cheese grits are involved. Tonight, however, our first order of business was to lay our lady out for her debut:
Andrew quickly covered her nakedness in a thick layer of marinade and poultry rub. We used the beer-can chicken recipe from Robert St. John’s New South Grilling, which ensures deliciousness by calling for four egg yolks, two cups of oil (I reduced it to one cup and warm water, which is still pretty damn lipidious), and a ton of barbecue spices. We already had the poultry rub prepared from a previous dinner.
With solemn ceremony, the bird was placed on the throne.
For those unfortunate souls unfamiliar with this practice, the basic concept is to stick an open beer can up the chicken’s nether regions, then roast it, causing the beer to steam the chicken and keep it moist (and beery) while it cooks. A moment of indignity for the chicken, a deathless memory for everyone who partakes.
After letting the chicken marinate for an hour, Andrew escorted it to the grill.
With the chicken roasting, it was time to move on to the most crucial element of a successful Couscous Sunday Dinner: booze. For this dinner, we had something very special: a rich, woody, Lovecraftian Syrah called The Tentacle.
Look! How beautiful!
Liz did the honors…
…and also prepared a side dish for the meal: roasted acorn squash. Cutting is hard!
Liz seasoned the squash with olive oil and brown sugar and baked it in the oven for about an hour. I hasten to assure everyone that the Ajax dish soap was not included in the recipe.
I cleaned the seeds, tossed them in olive oil and leftover poultry rub, and toasted them, because why the hell not? They came out like tasty mini pumpkin seeds.
Liz is our go-to person for roasting vegetables (she also handles all Couscous Sunday Dinner beets), so it’s no surprise that the squash came out flawless.
Meanwhile, I had some sweet potatoes just sitting around. Clearly, this would not do.
While enjoying The Tentacle, I peeled them, sliced them up…
…basted them with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of Tabasco as recommended in New Southern Grilling, and grilled them. They came out singed, but tasty.
This was truly a meal to put the most decadent excesses of the Roman cena to shame. But wait! Liz also wanted a salad! Always happy to oblige, I toasted some walnuts on the stove…
…and tossed with greens, cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, and the aforementioned squash seeds in a lemon-soy dressing I made from some lemon and soy and stuff.
And, after a couple of hours in the grill, basking in Andrew’s careful ministrations, here she is: a moist and spicy beer-can chicken!
All I can say is that this chicken had the tenderness of a baby field mouse and the flavor of Southern-style awesome. It was a religious experience.
And here’s Liz, ready to eat it. You can see that by this time we had finished off The Tentacle and moved on to a pleasant sparkling wine that paired well with being already pretty drunk. I also brought out some zucchini bread I’d made a few days before, because obviously we didn’t have enough food yet.
Andrew enjoyed the salad!
And the chicken!
And so did Liz!
And at this point I put down the camera and enjoyed Sunday Dinner too. By shooting a meal of this caliber down our gullets, we gained the strength to draw many comics. Another successful creation of the Couscous Collective!