One of the recipes in my book An Appetite for Ale for which I have the greatest affection is Beer-Can Chicken. Actually, I say recipe, but it’s more like a technique. The basic idea is to prop a whole bird on a beer can and barbecue it. Sound impossible? In fact it’s ridiculously easy.
The only slight snag is that you need a kettle-style barbecue with a high enough domed lid to take the bird upright. You’ll also need a medium sized chicken (about 1.3-1.5kg/3lb-3lb 5oz), a good quality spicy rub like a jerk or Cajun seasoning (I like the ones made by Seasoned Pioneers and the South African brand, NoMU) and a small 330ml can of beer. Doesn’t matter hugely what type of beer it is. Bog standard lager will do though once you may once you get the Beer-Can Chicken habit - as you undoubtedly will - you might want to play around with something more interesting.
Rinse the chicken inside and out and dry it thoroughly with kitchen towel. Remove any surplus fat from the carcass and sprinkle the inside of the chicken with about 1 tsp of the rub, rubbing it in well. Sprinkle the rest of the rub over the chicken and rub it in. Leave the chicken to marinate for half an hour or so while you fire up the barbecue.
Pour half the contents of the beer can into a glass (cook’s perk!). Lightly oil the can and lower the chicken onto the can so that it stands upright propped up by its legs. Set the can on the barbecue rack and cook over an indirect heat for about 50 minutes to an hour until the juices run clear when you pierce the leg with a skewer. Holding the can with a pair of tongs very carefully remove chicken from the can and set aside on a carving tray. Rest for 5-10 minutes then carve and serve with a barbecue sauce or a salsa.
The point about the whole exercise is that the beer creates steam inside the chicken making the flesh wonderfully moist and the fat runs down the skin, basting it and making it beautifully crisp. I promise you it will be one of the best chickens you’ve ever tasted!
*There's been a nice exchange about this on Twitter just now. One follower
@SbonnerABV said "I have to admit I drunk the contents of a beer can & filled it with a Belgium Lambic apricot = tasty" The book was, of course, written before the latest explosion of craft beers and I quite like the idea of pouring a good hoppy IPA into the can. I've also made it with stout which gives it a nice malty edge.
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