Friday, 5 June 2009

Beer Butt Chicken

I've heard of the Beer Butt style of cooking on numerous American blogs like this. They don't roast chicken as often as we do in the UK so in the US it's turned into a simple foolproof way to roast a chicken for the uninitiated. It's used as a way to cook chicken in a covered barbecue quite a lot but you can also do it in the oven as I did.

It's also quite a bit of a novelty standing a chicken upright like in Withnail and I. That's the main reason why I wanted to try this.

I cooked two birds and used Heineken as the beer more out of convenience than choice. The can should be half full and the chicken is shoved on top as in the photo above. I stuck a quarter of a lemon and a few cloves of garlic up the cavity before hand. It was when I shoved the chickens on the cans I remembered British beer cans are much taller than US ones. You have to be careful you don't knock them over.

I made up a basting liquid with chilli, crushed garlic and oil. I brushed this all over the chicken before sticking them in the oven.

You need a tall oven for this. We barely got our chickens in even after taking out all of the shelves and putting the roasting tin directly on the bottom of the oven.

The chickens were in the oven at 180-200 and because of the steaming from the beer cooked quicker than normally in just over an hour. Apparently the yeast also reacts with the chicken to make it more tender but I don't know if that's just the steam doing that.

When removing the birds from their perches there was still quite a bit of beer in the cans. I had to be careful not to spill it into the beautiful juices that rained off the chicken into the pan that would flavour our gravy. Next time I'm going to cut the top of the can off as I found recently was another way t get more beer steam into the chicken.

I served it with mash which was very buttery because I got to fulfil a dream of mine by chucking an entire packet of butter into it. There was a lot of potatoes I promise. There was also some greens.

Everything worked out really well. The chicken was very, very good. They were cooked incredibly well. I think it's a combination of having them suspended above the roasting tin and having the presence of steam in the oven. It keeps everything moist and makes the skin thin and crispy.Like I said before it's foolproof way to roast chicken. You only really get lagery tasting bits from the meat that was on the underside of the chickens cavity. The gravy did have a bit of a lager flavour though and even though the chicken was slightly spicy because of the chiili baste which also flavoured the gravy it really went well with buttery mash, broccoli and green beans.

When I do this again I'd like to try a different beer. Maybe a yeasty Belgium wheat beer or if you really want to get fancy what about serving individual Poussins each cooked on a can of wine?


  1. Yours looks pretty good. I loved the way mine tasted. I did pics as well if interested.


    Gravity Gardener

  2. I winced at the thought of a whole pack of butter in the mash but then I recognised the pan you were using.

  3. How the fruck did you fit both the chickens in the oven!? One, yeah..just about. two,WTF.

    You say oven, I recon you mean large Kiln.

    Seeya at work tomorrow bumface.