Alex Chadwick stuffs a chicken. Photo: Barry Gordemer, NPR News
Chadwick's "beer-can" chicken is ready for the grill. Photo: Barry Gordemer, NPR News
Barbecue drill instructor/chef Steven Raichlen examines Chadwick's results. Photo: Barry Gordemer, NPR News
July 3, 2002 -- With the height of the barbecue season upon him, Morning Edition's Alex Chadwick decided he needed a little brushing up on his backyard culinary skills. So he slipped on his apron, packed his spatula and shipped off for barbecue boot camp.
Chadwick's grill instructor: Steven Raichlen, author of the "Barbecue! Bible" cookbook series. Raichlen promises his troops "a crash course in all the essentials of barbecuing and grilling. We'll cover all the basic food groups, which include ribs, chicken, fish and even tofu."
Chadwick's first cooking assignment is the title dish from Raichlen's latest guide, Beer-Can Chicken.
Chadwick delicately explains the procedure: "Of beer-can chicken, one may say that 'good taste' and 'tastes good' have seldom stood farther apart in the same room. Preparation involves inserting a half-full can of beer into the south end of a north-bound chicken. We were using an ice-tea can for some reason. It can hardly have mattered to the subject. The bird is placed on the can so that it stands upright on the grill, the liquid inside the can then boils and steams the bird from the inside out."
The reporter and his dish survive a near disaster, and in the process Chadwick learns one of Raichlen's important lessons: "Always keep your eyes and ears on the grill!"
But in the end Raichlen proclaims Chadwick's bird juicy and "perfectly cooked."