Dish of the Week: Sweet & Spicy Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken is practically begging to join your Super Bowl spread.
Beer can chicken is practically begging to join your Super Bowl spread.
Photo by insatiablemunch

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week we’re sharing a recipe perfect for Super Bowl Sunday: Sweet & Spicy Beer Can Chicken.

Beer can chicken — also known as “beer butt chicken” or “chicken on a throne” — is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a whole chicken cooked (usually on a grill or in the oven) with a beer can stuffed inside its cavity. The beer is believed to steam the bird from the inside as it roasts, imparting flavor and aromatics along the way. According to bbq.com, the yeast and malt in the beer react with the chicken’s skin, making it extra-thin and crispy while the meat remains juicy.

Whether the science behind this checks out or not is up for debate, but having tried our fair share of beer can chicken, we can confirm one thing: When it's done right, the resulting bird is moist, succulent and an absolute crowd-pleaser. Rubbing it with garlic, herbs, spices and seasonings before cooking ensures that last part even more so.

The iconic dish has become a summertime grilling staple, but luckily for us Houstonians, we don't have to wait until the summertime to enjoy it on the grill (sometimes Houston weather can be a good thing).

This recipe, adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver, gives the juicy roast chicken a sweet and spicy kick with the addition of red chile, cayenne and dark brown sugar. It's finished with spring onions and fresh coriander for brightness.

Sweet & Spicy Beer Can Chicken

Ingredients
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) chicken
1 can beer (cheap beer works fine!)
2 Tbsp barbecue sauce
1 fresh red chile, de-seeded
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
For the rub:
1 heaping Tbsp smoked paprika
1 heaping tsp cayenne pepper
1 heaping Tbsp fennel seeds
1 heaping Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 to 2 dried red chiles
1 heaping tsp sea salt
1 heaping Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping Tbsp soft dark brown sugar

Directions:

In the oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On the grill: Heat a gas or charcoal grill (with a lid big enough to accommodate the bird) to medium-high.

Remove the chicken from the fridge and set aside to let it come up to room temperature.

Bash the rub ingredients to a fine powder in a large pestle and mortar, then drizzle the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle on the rub and use your hands to massage it into all the nooks and crannies.

Crack open the beer and pour out around half of it (or drink it), then carefully lower the chicken cavity onto the can so it looks like it’s sitting up.

In the oven: Position the chicken so it’s upright on a roasting tray, then place in the oven and cook for around 1 hour 10 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
On the grill: Position the chicken so it’s upright and cook over indirect heat approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh.

If you don't have a thermometer, insert a knife into the thickest part of the thigh — the juices should run clear when done.

Brush the chicken all over with the barbecue sauce, then return to the oven/grill for a further 10 minutes, or until dark and sticky.

Meanwhile, finely slice the chile and spring onions and pick the coriander leaves. Once ready, carefully remove and discard the can, then carve up the bird and scatter the chile, spring onions and coriander leaves over it, and serve.


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