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Beer can chicken recipe

Charred on the outside, juicy on the inside
Charred on the outside, juicy on the inside Credit: Haarala Hamilton

There’s a touch of Mad Max about a good barbecue and beer can chicken hits the right revving-up-the-Harley-Davidson note. Whether the beer really makes a difference is a moot point, but the can keeps the bird upright so it turns a deep bronze all over, and juicy inside. You will need a barbecue with a high domed lid – otherwise marinate chicken pieces as below and cook over indirect heat.

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus one hour (or overnight) marinating time | Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes, plus 20 minutes resting time

SERVES

Six, or more if serving with burgers

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1.8kg chicken
  • A can of beer at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp wood chips for smoking food (optional)

METHOD

  1. Mix the sugar, cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, and salt. Rub all over the chicken, including under the skin. Leave for an hour (or overnight in the fridge).
  2. Open the can of beer, removing the whole top with a tin opener, and drink (or pour away) half. Stand the can on a table and push the bird on to it, legs down, so the chicken is standing upright and the can is right in the cavity. Rub the bird with oil.
  3. Clear an area in the middle of the barbecue, pushing the coals to the sides so the chicken is cooked from all sides rather than only from underneath.
  4. Stand the chicken on the bars of the grill over this cleared area, or on an old foil container on the floor of the barbecue if you need more head room. Cover the barbecue and cook for 45 minutes.
  5.  Remove the lid and add more hot coals, as the temperature will probably be falling by now, and scatter over the wood chips if you are using them.
  6.  Pop the lid back on and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and golden, and the juices run clear.
  7. Very carefully lift the chicken and can off the grill and leave to rest for 20 minutes or so before removing the can of beer (carefully – it will still be full of hot liquid) and carving.