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How to barbecue a chicken on a beer can

publication date: Jul 1, 2011
author/source: Fiona Beckett
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Beer-can chicken, as the Americans call it, has to be the best ever way of cooking a bird -  a cross between roasting and barbecuing. The whole process is so quick and the result so tasty you just wouldn’t believe it. It also looks quite hilariously comic.

Basically what you’re doing is forcing beer flavoured steam up the inside of the chicken while the fat  from the skin runs down the body, constantly basting it and giving it a super-crisp, spicy skin.

Ideally you need a kettle barbecue or other barbecue with a high domed lid but you can do it on an ordinary one provided you don’t place the can directly over the coals.  DON’T forget to pour away (or drink) half the contents of the beer before you insert it in the chicken otherwise it will cascade out of the can and douse the fire

Serves 4
1 small to medium-sized chicken - about 1.3-1.5kg (3lb-3lb 5 oz)
About 1 tbsp jerk seasoning or other spicy rub
A little oil
A 330ml can of lager*

Rinse the chicken inside and out and dry 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. Lightly oil the can and lower the chicken onto the can so that it stands upright propped up by its legs (see picture) 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. Getting someone to hold the can with a pair of tongs very carefully remove the chicken from the can (the lager inside will be scalding hot) and set aside on a plate.  Rest for 5-10 minutes then carve and serve with a salsa or a barbecue sauce like the one below

* If you're cooking a bigger chicken, which is fine but it's slightly harder to ensure it's cooked through, use a 550ml beer can.

Brown beer BBQ sauce
2 tbsp oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp of the seasoning rub you used for the chicken
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2-3 tbsp cider vinegar
1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1/2 an orange
150-175ml Leffe Brune or similar Belgian brown beer (or a brown ale or stout)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the crushed garlic and jerk seasoning, cook for a minute then stir in the sugar. Add the tomato ketchup, 2 tbsp of the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and orange juice, stir then pour in half the beer. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for about half an hour, adding more beer as needed if it gets too thick. Sieve and serve.

This recipe comes from the beer and food book An Appetite for Ale I wrote with my son, Will


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