Bite Club: How to Make Beer Can Chicken
Trust us on this one.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard someone throw out the semi-accurate cliché that Eskimos have 50 words for snow. Conversely, Americans have roughly zero words for the gaping poultry hole traditionally stuffed with bread, aromatics, or, in this case, a can of PBR.
And that’s why I found myself searching “culinary term for chicken butthole” (turns out the agricultural term is “vent” or “cloaca”). After promptly deleting my browser history, I found a string of helpful articles, the most helpful of which was—weirdly enough—written by American hero and TV-dad-to-us-all Bob Saget.
Newly crowned poultry master Saget explains that it’s not actually the butthole at all, but rather a “back hole” of sorts that’s created underneath the rib cage of the bird after it’s cleaned and butchered. For today’s sake, so we can discuss this recipe like adults, we’re going to refer to it simply as “the cavity.”
Before stuffing the cavity, you need to apply a dry rub to your bird. Since 12 ounce beer cans are only sold by the half-dozen, you’re probably going to be drinking some of that beer with your dinner, so pair your dry rub accordingly.
I went with a spicy Cajun-esque blend of paprika, celery salt, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Dust your rub all over the bird, inside and out, then lube up your hands with some vegetable oil and massage it in.
While the rub is soaking into the skin, either preheat your oven to 350 degrees, or, if you really want to do it up right, fire up a charcoal grill. If you use charcoal, build a pyramid with the briquettes, get a fire burning nice and hot, then scatter them around the edges of the grill. You want to cook the chicken via indirect heat, which prevents the chicken from burning, and allows for a ton of delicious smoke flavor to penetrate the meat. Smoke, spice, and beer is a winning flavor combination every time.
Take any run-of-the-mill beer, then drink it down until it’s half-full. Half-full, not half-empty—there’s no room for pessimism in the kitchen. Shove the beer tab-side-up into the cavity, then place the bird in the center of the grill—or in a shallow roasting pan if you’re going the oven route—splaying the legs out in front of the breast to act as a tripod along with the bottom of the beer can.
Not only is the beer going to steam the bird from the inside out, keeping everything moist and aromatic, but it also acts as a makeshift poultry stand, which allows the skin to get crispy without the chicken stewing in its own juices.
Put the lid on top of your grill to trap in all that flavorful smoke and drive the internal temperature somewhere close to 350 degrees—just like an oven. Walk away for 45 minutes, drink one of the leftover beers, then pop open the top of the grill and splash some more beer over the chicken, just for good measure.
After another 30 minutes—so an hour and fifteen in total—the chicken should be ready to eat. If you have any doubts, stick a meat thermometer into the dark meat and look for 175 degrees.
If it’s not quite up to temp yet, crack open another beer. You’ve earned it.
Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer