BBQ, Chicken, Entree, Grilling, Poultry, Wine

Wine Country Chicken

With Memorial Weekend fully upon us. it’s time to pull off that expensive grill cover, check your fire supplies, and give it a good ol’ cleaning… because you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time out there flipping burgers, rolling dogs, and gettin’ experimental.

To be perfectly honest – I’ve never cooked “Beer Can Chicken“. Shoving a shiny can of Pabst up the southern-most end of a bird and grilling the bejeezus out of it, just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m dubious that it adds any real moisture, and even more doubtful that an unadulterated warm beer enema is suitable flavoring for…well, anything.


wine country plated

That being said…

I watch a lot of PBS cooking shows. You always learn something new and you don’t have to contend with a lot of flappy patter from personalities trying to be …well, charming…. they just cook.

I catch episodes of Steven Raichlen’s Primal Grill periodically. I find it to be one of the best grill-specific instructionals out there. I say instructional, because he is kinda hard to listen to. Stilted, monotone – but if you can get past that – he does some really interesting things on the grill. Things I’ve never thought of… like this chicken.

I’ve made this chicken several times. It’s terribly good – even as an original recipe. But as with everything I cook, I’m never really happy with someone else’s recipe. So, I make changes, each time tweaking the steps, ingredients, and procedure a bit – until it makes sense to me.

For example:

Since I needed a can (obviously) I thought the marinade and plug could use a little sweetness. A 12 ounce can of Ginger Ale got added to the mix.

I thought 3 hours wasn’t enough time to fully introduce the wine and seasoning into the bird. Therefore, the marinate increased to a full 24 hours.

Using thyme in the marinade and only utilizing heady, woodsy Herbs de Provence as a dry rub before grilling seemed silly. Dry herbs slapped on the exterior of the bird then hitting it with heat wont impart rich savory flavors into the meat. .. So I’ve scrapped the thyme, and added 2 Tablespoons of Herbs de Provence into the marinade. The rub before grilling is simply a good crusting of Kosher Salt.

And because I cook on a gas grill, I’ve included a  good, generous teaspoon of liquid smoke along with all the other seasonings to make up for the lack of a wood fire.

Finally, you can’t have killer chicken without butter – so there’s 4 tablespoons tucked under the skin at the breast and backbone to keep things moist and succulent.

But whichever version you try, be sure to grab his recipe for CABERNET SAUVIGNON BARBECUE SAUCE to serve with it. It really makes the dish.

wine country cooked



Wine Country Grilled Chicken

Prep time 24 hours
Cook time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time 25 hours, 30 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Pre-preparable
Occasion Barbecue, Casual Party
By author Adapted From Steven Raichlen's Primal Grill
Fair warning, this is going to take some time to marinate and grill, so plan to start the day before you want to grill.



  • 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot ((Retain 1/4 Cup for grilling) Make it a decent bottle - but don't break the bank on it)
  • 8oz Ginger Ale (Reserve 1/4 Cup of ale and the Can for grilling)
  • 3 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 leaves Bay Leaf
  • 2 cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 3-Pound Whole Chicken


  • 2 tablespoons Coarse Kosher Salt
  • 4 tablespoons Butter

Tools of the Trade

  • 1 Large Zipper Bag
  • 1 Small Roasting Pan
  • 1 Roasting Stand (You can pick them up at Walmart for around $4)
  • 1 Church Key

For the Marinade:

Remove the giblets from the carcass and trim the excess fatty flaps at the tail end. Place all the associated ingredients in an extra-large Zipper bag with the Chicken. Push out all the extra air, seal, and refrigerate for a full 24 hours.

The Next Day:

wine country prepped

Don’t worry, all that PURPLE dissipates in the grilling

Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Dry the Chicken with paper towels.  Add the retained Wine and Ginger Ale to the saved soda can and punch 3 extra holes in the top with the church key.. Place the can in the roasting stand and slide the chicken (butt first)  on the stand.

wine country butter

Carefully loosen the skin from the meat at the top of the bird. Place 4 Tablespoons of Butter under the skin – 2 at the breasts / 2 at the back.

wine country salt

Liberally crust the bird with Kosher Salt.

Grilling the Bird:

Turn on the two outer burners and preheat the grill to 400 degrees. Place the roasting stand in a roasting pan and place over the UNLIT center burner. Close the grill lid and cook for 1 hour – 30 minutes. (or until a meat thermometer tested at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees.)

Serve either Hot off the grill,  rested to room temperature…. or chilled and sliced for sandwiches.