Unexpected Recipes: Could Beer-Can Chicken Be the Dish for You?

Beer-can chicken doesn’t sound great, when first you hear of it. However, if you give this dish a chance and get past the hilariousness of perching a chicken of a half-drunk tin of lager, you’ll wind up with an amazing roast chicken that’s moist, juicy, and absolutely delicious. So why not give it a whirl next Sunday when you need a roast dinner?

Traditionally, beer-can chicken is cooked on a barbecue, but this recipe will direct you in preparing it in the oven as the barbecue is well out of season. In terms of flavour, beer-can chicken will give you all the comforting tastes of home-cooked roast chicken and you’ll be able to enjoy it all through the year.

All you need to make beer-can chicken is a large whole chicken, some butter, some salt, herbs for the chicken rub, and a room-temperature half-filled can of beer.

Now as far as the chicken rub is concerned, you can get very creative; mix your herbs and spices into the butter (of which you’ll need about 50 grams) and rub it onto the outside of the chicken. Popular recipes include: two crumbled-up Maggi cubes, which give the chicken a golden hue and a salty, flavoursome aroma; freshly chopped rosemary mixed with finely minced garlic cloves and a bit of thyme; and absolutely anything you can imagine.

Open the can of beer and drink half of its contents. Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 9 (240ºC), and mix up your herb rub. Now remove the neck and giblets from the chicken if they are in there, and insert the can (with the opening facing upwards).

You want to position the chicken upright in an oven-proof tray, with the bottom of the tin flat on the bottom of the tray. Rub the outside of your chicken with your herb rub and leave the whole to rest for ten or fifteen minutes (tip: to get butter off your hands quickly and easily, use some dish soap, which is formulated to remove grease).

Now place the chicken in the oven – you’ll have to put it quite low down as it is a tall structure.

After about ten minutes of initial sizzle, turn the oven down to gas mark 4 (180ºC). The beer in the can is boiling and turning to steam, which means it’s steaming the chicken from the inside out and retaining quite a moist texture as compared to the dry chicken many people come out with when they roast conventionally.

The skin, on the other hand, will become nice and crispy all the way around, and you will not end up with soggy bits at the bottom as the chicken will be sitting upright all through the cooking process.

A 4lb chicken will take around an hour and a half, so carefully check your timing, but a bit more time won’t break the bank as the chicken will retain moisture. Nevertheless, a bit of gravy is always nice! Enjoy your beer-can chicken – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!