Beer Can Chicken

Not many recipes start with having you drink half a beer; this one does! The buzz you get from slugging half a cheap beer is only one of the benefits this easy recipe provides; you’ll also get moist and tender chicken, crisp and golden skin, a house filled with the heady aroma of roasting poultry, and the satisfaction you get from a chicken well-cooked. It’s a great technique as the beer steams the inside of the bird and, because it’s standing at attention, you get crispy skin all the way around, including the back.

Beer can chicken is easy, delicious, and addictive.

I’ve been making variations of this chicken dish at least once a month for the past three years. I’ve done every manner of spice rub, brine, and marinade. I’ve cooked it in the oven and over indirect heat on a Weber. I’ve pre-salted the skin, I’ve stuck herbs under the skin. I’ve used cans of beer, Sprite, lemonade, Squirt, wine, and ginger ale. I’ve stuck lemons, garlic, and ginger in the cavity. I’ve cooked every possible size chicken. I even cooked a small turkey with a can of Foster’s up its butt. I’ve tried different cooking times and temperatures, and tried conventional and convection ovens. But for you, noble reader, I’ve tried to distill this method down to its simplest form.

This raw recruit is standing at attention.

This recipe is best with smaller chickens, “fryers” three pounds and under. If you can’t find chickens that small you’ll have to adjust your cooking time accordingly, adding maybe 5-10 minutes per pound. It’s hard to say as oven differences can affect your cooking time as well. But generally speaking a bird under three pounds will take almost exactly one hour to cook.

A couple of tips before you launch into the recipe. Make sure you bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking. Take it out of the fridge, unwrap it, and leave it a big bowl on the counter for 30 to 40 minutes, covered loosely with plastic wrap of course. Likewise with the beer. It shouldn’t be ice cold when you stick it in the chicken cavity as it will slow your cooking. And loosen the chicken skin by cramming your fingers under the skin and gently separating it from the meat, all around the breast meat and the legs, front and back. Finally, make sure your chicken is dry. Wipe it inside and out very well with paper towels. The chicken should just be moist enough for the spices to stick to the skin.
For extra-crispy skin you might try seasoning it eight hours in advance, with a little extra salt in the rub. The salt will pull extra moisture out of the skin and result in a crackling exterior. But, once again, after the salting process make sure you pat the chicken very, very dry. 
Now, enough tips. Roast that chicken!
I’d be pretty upset if I had a beer can rammed up my butt!

You will need:

1 good-quality chicken “fryer”, about 2.75 pounds, preferably free-range

1 can of beer (I used Heineken, but hell, you could use sprite really.)

2 tablespoons all-purpose poultry rub (recipe below) or whatever seasoning you like

Pam or other compressed oil spray

Do this:

Open beer and drink half of it. Place beer can in the middle of a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. spray can all over with Pam.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Set your rack low enough so that the chicken has plenty of clearance.

Remember to leave your chicken at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Over a cutting board loosen the skin of the chicken as much as possible without tearing it. Sprinkle a little of your seasoning in the cavity of the bird and then very generously all over the outside, making sure to get spices into the crevices like the little arm-pits (wing-pits?) and around the leg joints. Fold your wings back and tuck the tips gently behind the back so they stay. Carefully prop chicken up on the can using the legs as a tripod for stability. A little force may be required to get the can in the cavity, just so you know. 

Now move the sheet pan and chicken into the oven, being very careful. It’s not exactly stable. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Cook another 30 minutes. Check chicken for doneness by wiggling the wing (it should feel loose) and the leg (same). You can also pierce the meat of the thigh between the bones. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.

Now, remove the chicken and sheet pan from the oven and let rest for ten minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and pull gingerly off the can. Drain can and recycle. Carve chicken and serve. Another tip: save the carcass and use as the base for killer chicken broth!

I served this with Garlic & Lemongrass Home Fries (recipe post was just a couple of days ago) and some buttery peas & corn. A salad would be fine addition. 
The chicken is cut up and ready for devouring.

All-Purpose Poultry Rub:
combine all ingredients
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay spice
1 teaspoon dried herbs de provence (mixed dried Italian herbs is okay)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Beer Can Chicken is not just for rednecks anymore!

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