Saturday, 5 July 2008

Beer-can chicken

I've been invited by Kate of A Merrier World to take part in this month's blogging event on her site, a very worthwhile attempt to join Jamie and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in persuading everyone to eat free-range chicken. It's called Let Them Eat Chicken and Kate has written very passionately on the subject here

I was going to submit a recipe from my recent post 4 days eating from one chicken but then I remembered the best chicken recipe of all - and the perfect one for this time of year - Beer-can Chicken.

When I discovered this last year I just couldn't stop making it. It's that rare recipe which is simple and delicious and fun to make. A real show stopper. Basically it's a chicken barbequed over a half empty beer can. The steam from the beer keeps the flesh moist while the (admittedly rather undignified) position the chicken is in keeps it basted and the skin beautifully crisp.

Like Kate I'd obviously use a free-range bird to make it. My butcher was selling half price organic chickens recently but they were a bit big for this recipe (though you can use a 550ml can with a bigger bird as you can see in the picture above) So I'd probably just use a free-range supermarket chicken but, given the struggle Hugh FW has recently been having with them, possibly not Tesco's ;-)

Beer-can chicken
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 (or stout which gives the chicken a slightly smoky flavour)
You also need a barbecue with a domed lid.

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. Oil the outside of the bird then sprinkle the rest of the rub over the chicken and rub it in well. Leave the chicken in a cool place to absorb the flavours for half an hour or so while you fire up the barbecue. Pour half the contents of the beer can into a glass (this is important otherwise the beer will gush out over the coals) Lightly oil the outside of the half-empty can and lower the chicken onto it so that it stands upright propped up by its legs. Set the can on the barbecue rack, lower the barbecue lid and cook over an indirect heat for about 45-50 minutes until the juices run clear when you pierce the leg with a skewer. Holding the can with a pair of tongs very carefully remove chicken from the can and set aside on a serving plate. (This is ideally a two person operation!) Rest for 5-10 minutes then carve and serve with a barbecue sauce or a salsa


Kate said...

I might get a chance to try your recipe this weekend ... if it stops raining in time! It certainly sounds very tasty.

Thanks for your entry :-)

SheyMouse said...

Excellent entry. I am going to get my Webber back from my mate for this one.

Out of curiosity, can this be don in a regular oven in much the same way? Do any adjustments need to be made to the recipe to make this possible?

Fiona Beckett said...

You certainly should sheymouse! You could even experiment with other kinds of beer. I seem to remember you're a beer lover so wouldn't be too grabbed by cheap lager. I always though it would be interesting to empty the can and pour real ale back into it to see what effect the flavour would have on the chicken (though that wouldn't, admittedly, be very frugal . . . )

I think you should be able to make it work in an oven though I haven't tried. The skin wouldn't be quite as crisp I suspect but it would still be pretty good. I'd have the oven on reasonably hot about 200°C/Gas 6 or 170°C in a fan oven and it might take slightly longer. Let me know how it goes!