Beer Can Chicken

July 11, 2014


When the weather starts to get warmer, we’ve all got the desire to drag out the barbecue from the shed, dust off the cobwebs and do some serious summer cooking.

I do love a good barbecue, but I get a bit fed up with the same old thing.  You know what I mean – things like burnt sausages, hockey puck burgers and dried out chicken. We have all had our barbecue disasters (I have had many), so I have come to the conclusion that a good summer barbecue should be made as simple as possible. We all want fantastic food that doesn’t require a lot of attention, right?

If you want great food with minimal fuss, beer can chicken is the perfect recipe; you can leave it alone and only requires checking once or twice. As soon as you give this recipe a go, I promise you’ll love it. The beer can acts as a sort of makeshift rotisserie and as the beer inside heats up, it steams the bird from within, keeping it super juicy while imparting hoppy flavours into the meat.

I picked up a very nice chicken from Andrew Sykes situated in Leicester Market’s Food Hall; a bargain at just £5.50.  Andrew Sykes’s staff members are happy to offer tips and advice and are always very helpful, offering a personal shopping experience you only get from quality butchers.  They also stock a lovely variety of BBQ goodies such as lamb and mint burgers, chilli steak burgers, a constantly changing variety of speciality sausages, as well as alternative BBQ foods like tandoori chicken legs and sweet chilli pork steaks.

I already had the spices for the rub, but you can buy them at the Market too; there’s a stall that sells all sorts of dried herbs and spices at really good prices, as well as fresh produce and tinned foods all from the Caribbean so they should have everything you need for this recipe. Airolyn Hunt trades Thursday: C15, C16, C19, Friday: C15, C16, C19 and C20, Saturday: C15, C16, C19 and C20.

Also, if you want to treat yourself to some yummy local honey to glaze the chicken, you can pick a jar up from Sherwin’s Cheese Company; also in the Food Hall.  Use any beer you like; your favourite lager, ale, or stout is fine.  Just remember the golden rule of cooking with booze: if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.  There’s nothing worse than ruining a lovely dish with a cheap can of lager from the back of the cupboard you’re just trying to get rid of.

I suggest serving this chicken with some hot buttered whole corn cobs rubbed with a little oil and cayenne before grilling, also my pokey mustard and green bean potato salad would work great. If you want a great salad to go with this then opt for really crisp refreshing lettuces like cos, little gem, iceberg and Chinese leaf. The cool crisp leaves will contrast the hot, spicy flavours of the chicken. You could also shred the chicken and serve in buns with a cool coriander and mint yoghurt dressing.

1 whole chicken (about 1.8kg)
1 can of beer with 1/3 of the liquid emptied
3 dessert spoons of muscavado sugar
2 dessert spoons of paprika
1tsp cayenne
1tsp dried thyme
½ dessert spoon garlic powder
1 dessert spoon onion salt
½ tsp crushed fennel seeds
½ tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 dessert spoon crushed black pepper
3 dessert spoons of honey
Olive oil

Combine the dry ingredients until everything is mixed equally. Coat the chicken with olive oil, then massage the spice mix over the chicken, making sure you work the rub into all the crevices. Ideally you should let the chicken marinade overnight, but you can leave it for just a few hours before cooking.

Make sure that your chicken is at room temperature before cooking for best results. Insert the beer can into the open end into the cavity of the chicken, being careful not to spill the liquid. Stand upright and place directly on your BBQ using an indirect heat method for around 1 hour 15 minutes with the lid on, or if cooking in your oven you want your oven at gas mark 5 or 190°C for the same amount of time. Be very careful that the chicken is stable and upright to avoid it falling over.  For the last 20 minutes of cooking drizzle over the honey to give a nice sweet, sticky glaze. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes before carving.