Beer Can Chicken
I’m sharing with you today my favorite way to roast chicken – on a beer can. Pretty fancy, huh? It doesn’t actually have to be beer; I sometimes use soda, or just a clean empty can with some water in it. The purpose of the can is to infuse the chicken with steam from the inside to keep the meat moist and tender. I’ve heard that different beverages will impart their unique flavors into the meat, but never noticed a difference myself. What I have noticed is that this method will give you a perfect roast chicken – crispy skin and moist meat dripping with juices.
Beer Can Chicken
1 can beer or soda
1 beer can roasting rack (optional, but helpful)
Preheat your oven to 350° and set the oven rack to the lowest position. If you’ve got a convection oven – even better! I like to use the “Convection Roast” setting. Unwrap chicken, remove giblets, and pat dry with paper towels. Important: Do not rinse it in the sink! This does not make the chicken any cleaner, but it does make your sink a lot nastier. Rub the chicken all over with olive or butter and season with salt and pepper, or your favorite dry rub. My rub of choice is Northwoods Seasoning from Penzey’s Spices. Penzey’s sells excellent quality herbs and spices at affordable prices. There are 3 stores in the Portland metro area, and you can also purchase online.
Set your roasting rack in a baking dish and add a half-full (if you’re an optimist) can of beer or soda. Pour a little water (about ½c.) in the baking dish so the juices don’t burn. Place the chicken upright on the can, with the cavity fitting snugly over it. It is possible to roast a chicken on a can without the rack, but you will have to be careful moving it in and out of the oven without tipping it. (I have done this successfully in the past.) Insert a thermometer into the breast. I recommend using a remote probe (with an alarm) when roasting meats. Chicken should be cooked until the temperature in the breast reaches 165°. Don’t cook it longer than that or you’ll end up with a tough, dry bird.
When the breast meat has reached 165°, remove the chicken from the oven. You will likely see the juices bubbling away under the skin. Tent it with foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Getting it off the can is sometimes a little tricky, and I find it helps to have a second pair of hands to secure the base. The chicken will still be quite hot, so you may wish to use two forks instead of your fingers.
Don’t throw away the carcass when you’re done! You can use that for homemade bone broth. Be sure to save any juices from carving as well as those from the baking dish, and the nibbled on bones as well. If you’re not ready to make broth right away you can put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. You can also save vegetable scraps, like carrot ends and celery hearts.
The beer can rack I use is a very inexpensive one I purchased at WINCO. It can be found online for less than $10. It is suitable for use on the grill as well. I’ve got my eye on this cast iron version: Cast Iron Vertical Poultry Roaster. Since we don’t drink any soda, or beer from cans it would be nice to have a roaster that didn’t require their use. (Plus, cast iron!)