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This top chef shares his recipe for yummy beer can chicken salad

If you don’t know who chef Robert Belcham is, then you haven’t been paying attention to Vancouver’s world-class food scene.
beer can chicken
The ingredients. Photo by Dan Toulgoet

If you don’t know who chef Robert Belcham is, then you haven’t been paying attention to Vancouver’s world-class food scene. The 2009 Vancouver Magazine Chef of the Year has been responsible for some the city’s most iconic restaurants, including Fuel, Refuel, Campagnolo, Campagnolo Roma, Campagnolo Upstairs, and Monarch Burger.

For his latest venture, Popina Canteen at Granville Island, Belcham partnered with an absolute dream team of culinary rock stars featuring Angus An, Hamid Salimian and Jöel Watanabe. The concept is to bring elevated “fast food” to Vancouver in a remarkable setting—Popina Canteen might be the fanciest concession stand in B.C. with one of the best patios in the Lower Mainland.

Case in point, Belcham’s lager roasted herb chicken salad with green goddess dressing. This isn’t your auntie’s chicken salad (although we’re sure hers is very nice, too).

The Growler: Why do you love this recipe?
Chef Robert Belcham: Beer can chicken is something people usually do on the barbecue and only in the summer. It is delicious and this can be done all year. Also, beer is good for you. In moderation.

Why did you choose this particular beer? What sort of foods does it pair well with?
Powell Brewery brews the Hoi Polloi Lager for us and it’s absolutely delicious and works very well in this application. It’s a clean, crisp, classic representation of a lager. I like the combinations of lighter fare with a lager—easy on the palate and the digestion. Other lagers will work as well.

What are some general tips you have for pairing beer with food?
The number one thing to consider when trying to pair food with beer—or wine, or cider—is to drink things you like. A good rule of thumb is lighter or spicier foods match better with lighter crisper drinks. With heavier foods a darker and robust drink tends to work better.

beer can chicken
Photo by Dan Toulgoet

Lager roasted herb chicken salad

By Chef Robert Belcham, Popina Canteen
Makes six servings

Green Goddess dressing

• 1 clove of garlic
• Juice and zest of 2 lemons
• 2 ice cubes
• 1 avocado, ripe, seeded, and skinned
• 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
• 1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced fine (do not bruise)
• 1 tsp fresh scallion, chopped
• 1 tsp fresh tarragon, leaves only, chopped
• 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a high-speed blender, combine garlic, lemon juice and zest. Blend until very smooth.
2. Add ice, avocado and fresh herbs, blend on high and drizzle in olive oil until fully combined.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and refrigerate until using.

Herb roasted chicken salad

• 1 2-pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
• 1 can of Popina Canteen’s Hoi Polloi Lager by Powell Brewery or your favourite the lager (if it has a label, remove it before cooking)
• 5 sprigs thyme
• 5 sprigs parsley
• 5 sprigs sage
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 3 radishes, sliced thin
• 1 scallion, sliced thin
• 1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into small bite-sized pieces
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thin
• 1 small fennel, sliced very thin
• 1 small daikon, peeled and sliced thin
• 1 small red endive, sliced thin

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry. Season with salt and fresh black pepper inside and out. Place sprigs of fresh herbs and 2 crushed garlic cloves into the chicken.
3. Open can of beer and take a sip (this is important).
4. Place can upright in the centre of an ovenproof baking pan. Open the chicken cavity and place it upright over the beer can, maneuvering the can as far into the chicken as possible.
5. Keeping the chicken sitting upright on the baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven until an instant read thermometer reads 160F.
6. Take the bird out of the oven and let rest until warm enough to handle. Discard the skin and bones, shred the chicken meat by hand and mix with any accumulated juices from the pan. This can be done up to one day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
7. In a large bowl, add romaine, carrot, scallion, radish, daikon, and endive. Add in about half of the dressing. Toss well but gently, adjust seasoning with salt and fresh lemon juice.
8. Add shredded chicken and toss through as well. Divide salad among 6 plates and serve for a light lunch.


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