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Beer Can Chicken

June 22, 2011

Hello again summertime. It’s certainly been a while hasn’t it? But I welcome you back happily and hungrily but with a touch of bitterness.

I adore you for the long days spent reading outside in my grubby pajamas. I love the rare moments when all of my friends and I suddenly seem to have a simultaneous free time and a long night spent stargazing and inhaling ice cream follows. I love the meals: luscious grilled everything, simple antipasti platters of bread, pesto, cheese, and cold wine, and simple cold salads that keep for days and are perfect from the fridge, requiring no need of an oven.

But summer is also when I stress over the fact that no one wants to hire summer employees. I sit bored, feeling pointless and worthless. And unlike last year, where I spent every moment counting down the days until my trip to London, the anticipation factor is lacking. I ache for opportunity whether it be an internship, design assignment, paid cooking extravaganza, whatever…will it ever come?

So as a self-deemed personal chef for the family, I spend my time cooking, for isn’t that one of those few things that eases the mind; as long as there is cooking it will be better, right? So with an ever-growing list of successful and share-worthy recipes, I’ll begin from the beginning.

On Memorial Day, unofficial start of summer, we celebrated by using a new toy we happened to acquire: our Steven Raichlen Beer Can Chicken Canister for the ultimate roasted/grilled little bird imaginable. Just fill it half way with beer or liquid of choice (aka coke, ginger ale, wine, cider, etc.), pop it in the cavity of a spice-rubbed chicken, place the stand and chicken upright over indirect heat on the grill, and let it go for an hour until the meat is moist and succulent. The liquid (we used Blue Moon) permeated the chicken with citrusy flavor and extreme moisture and it was so delicious we attacked it like a pack of savage wolves. And the best part was, it was the first roasted chicken I’ve made that did not require greasing up the oven and multiple pans and a routine frantic fanning of the smoke alarm. A perfect recipe in my book!

Beer Can Chicken

The key is maintaining a fairly even cooking temperature throughout. Before adding the chicken, get your grill to a steady 400 degrees and once you add the chicken, avoid opening the grill lid as much as possible. This will ensure the bird is cooked through after the hour is up. If you don’t have a special canister tool that we used, feel free to simply stick a half-full beer can into the cavity instead.


1 large organic or free-range chicken
Half of a beer in a can or special cooking canister filled halfway with liquid of choice

Spice rub: Recipe from Jamie’s America by Jamie Oliver

1 heaping tsp. anise seeds
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 heaping tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. mild chili powder
salt and pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil

Get the grill going ahead of time and get it so it stays at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If it has 3 burners, only light the 2 outside ones. This way, you can place the chicken in the middle and it cooks from indirect heat. This will ensure it is cooked though and not burned on the bottom.

Prepare the chicken by rinsing it, removing the innards, and patting it dry. Separate the skin from the meat so it is easier later when you are putting the rub on the chicken. Fill the liquid canister halfway with liquid of choice or open a beer can and remove half of the contents in any manner you’d like.

To make the rub, combine the anise seeds, cumin, paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a spice grinder and blitz until all mixed-up. Pour into a bowl, add the olive oil, and stir together.

Slather the rub on the outside of the whole chicken, between the skin and the meat, and inside the cavity. Insert the beer can or canister into the chicken’s cavity and stand it upright. Shove some thyme sprigs into the top of the chicken.

Place the chicken in the middle of the grill, close the lid, and let it cook for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Once cooked, carefully remove the chicken from the can and let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving. We ate it with some simple steamed swiss chard.

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