I've read a whole bunch of articles on how to cook a chicken with a beer can wedged inside it. I first saw it in Fergus Henderson's Observer supplement about how to make the most of summer. It's just a shame that summer has almost entirely bypassed us this year.
I loved the idea of ramming a beer can up the ass of a chicken that we gave it a go whilst half way up a mountain in Wales. Harriet's Grandparent's gorgeous cottage in the Welsh mountains is a 20 minute walk directly up a hill. We arrived on a Friday night in pitch darkness carrying our heavy rucksacks full of supplies to keep us slaked and sated. In other words loads of booze and tonnes of food!
I'd been getting excited about doing the beer can chicken all weekend... Harriet was egging me on to cook it after we had gone for a walk on Sunday. So before we went on our hike Nick and I lit a fire in the dry stone wall to drive off the moisture that had accumulated. The beauty of the fire was that it warmed the stone up and fitted perfectly into the scenery. There's something special about lighting a pre-barbecue fire. It's a great warm up to a special event.
I found loads of instructions of how to cook Beer Can Chicken scattered around the internet from the Surreal Gourmet to the more informative About.com About's is particularly good, if a little too detailed. All you need to do is...
Find a can of beer. Chop the top of with some scissors and pour away the liquid so the can is half full... fuller than this and the beer doesn't have a chance to boil and steam... it just gets hot.
Rub salt and smoked paprika into the skin of the chicken. I separated the skin from the flesh and seasoned under the skin as well just for good measure... but I guess this is optional. I just like the wearing chicken gloves! Then, very carefully, ram the half full beer can inside the cavity of the chicken so the bird is balanced on the can. Have a look below.
If you knock it over like I did, then just pour some more beer in from the top. Not too much though... you want to get the beer boiling and not just warm.
Then pop wrap the base of the chicken in some tin foil to stop the legs catching fire and balance the base of the can carefully on the grill. Now arrange the coals in such a way that there is intense heat either side of the chicken and build a small mound of coals directly under the can so that the beer in the can is encouraged to boil. Now leave the chicken on the grill for around 2 and a half hours whilst the bird steams from the inside and smokes from the outside. Monitor the chicken every now and again to see if steam is puffing out of the neck. When the meat around the top of the bird is cooked your ready to carefully take the succulent bird off the grill and tear it apart.
With any luck the flesh should fall apart and taste deliciously of smoke and beer! It's such a great party piece. I'm keen to develop the recipe and steam a chicken with red win and garlic...
Winners and Anna seemed to enjoy the show too!