This is a really fun and effective way to cook a Chook. Make sure your bbq lid is high to hold the upright chicken. The steam from the beer cooks the inside of the bird, so the meat ends up lovely and juicy.
The beer used should be a good larger. Excuse me to all Heineken drinkers whom I am about to offend but apparently heineken is not a good larger (have never tried it as a drink myself and not quite sure how we had 3 cans of the stuff in our fridge) but my Dad would think me shoving a Heineken up the Chook’s cavity was not fare game. A good bird deserves a good brew. Budweiser, Sapporo or whatever you like to swig (oh and that’s the other brilliant thing about this recipe. You have to have a few good gulps of the beer before you give the rest to the Chook so it may as well be one you love).
I have used a Jamie Oliver recipe and a simple spice rub. A chimichuri sauce also makes for an excellent rub.
We had a fantastic barbecue cooking class at Relish Mama yesterday and this was one of the many recipes the guests cooked and enjoyed on what was one very hot Saturday.
Beer butt chicken
1 large whole chicken (approx. 1.5kg), preferably free-range or organic
1 x 473 ml can of Sapporo, Budweiser or another quality lager beer
For the rub:
1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
1 level teaspoon smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar
1 level teaspoon mild chilli powder
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your barbecue or oven to 200°C.
Take your chicken out of the fridge while you make your rub.
In a pestle and mortar, bash up your fennel and cumin seeds and mix with the paprika, brown sugar, chilli powder, salt and pepper. Stir in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until you get a nice paste. Drizzle this rub all over the chicken, inside and out, using your hands to make sure you cover the whole bird.
Open, have a couple of good swigs so your can is just about half full, then lower your chicken’s cavity on to the top of the can so it looks as though the chicken is sitting on the can. A bit undignified, but trust me – it’s going to be delicious. If you’re using a charcoal barbecue, try to strategically move a small amount of coals to the sides rather than directly underneath the chicken, so the heat radiates around it and cooks it from all angles rather than grills it. If using a gas barbecue, use the indirect cooking method (inside burners off & just using the outer burners).
Cook for around 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until it’s golden and delicious and the meat pulls away from the bone and the juices run clear. If this isn’t the case (all barbecues and ovens are slightly different) just cook for a bit longer. If you happen to have a digital meat thermometer, you know when your chicken is cooked when the thickest part of the breast reaches 74 oC or the thickest part of the thigh reaches anywhere between 74 oC and 79oC.
Once done, remove the can and loosely cover your chicken with foil and a tea towel. This tastes so good, you wont need much else than a simple green salad to serve alongside it.
I get asked a lot if my chicken has ever fallen over using this method and honestly, it has not. The bigger the chicken, the less stable it will be but if you are worried or find that you are cooking this often, you can buy wire frames suitable for cooking a beer butt chicken at specialty barbecue stores.
Bottoms up everybody!