Beer Can Cooking
It’s not clear who dreamt up the idea of cooking a bird either chicken or duck, perched on a beer can but whoever it was I thank them heartily.
This style of cooking, particularly chicken has been a revelation and our family has been doing this all summer, we love it!
The bird has that lovely barbecue flavour with the added seasoning from the rub of your choice, we have own own favourite which you can find here. The bird cooks evenly inside and out with the metal can helping to transfer heat to the inside and the evaporating beer adds more flavour and keeps the meat wonderfully succulent.
Where Did The Idea Come From?
To me, it sounds like the idea of beer can cooking must have come from Australia with their dual passions of barbecuing and beer. But maybe that’s just the influence of advertising and watching Crocodile Dundee films. A bit of Google research provides the following:
“If you thought the science of beer can chicken is confusing, its origin story is no different. It’s difficult to trace the very first cookout or kitchen in which the idea was born, but it most likely happened somewhere in the American South, according to Atlas Obscura. Food writer Steven Raichlen, who’s so dedicated to the grill that he wrote a book called Planet Barbecue!, has been fiddling with the beer can chicken for decades. He first saw the ingenious poultry invention in the 1990s at a Memphis cooking competition but from a Texas-based team“.
Now Try It Indoors Or Outdoors
We Brits have caught on to cooking on barbecues in a big way but we aren’t usually blessed with a long season of good weather to do so. This may alter in the future with climate change but don’t despair because you can now do it in your kitchen oven or the barbecue with a cast iron cooking stand.
It’s probably safer than balancing the chicken or duck on the can and using some kind of prop to stop it from falling over. Plus it saves you the tricky task of removing the top of the beer can.
Which Beer To Use?
We have experimented all summer long with different beers to see which one we preferred.
We tried lager, bitter, cider (not beer I know) and even Guinness. The difference was quite subtle with cider infusing an apple flavour. Personally, my favourite was using a bitter like Speckled Hen or Doombar (UK brands) but I should imagine any dark beer would give similar results.
Alternatives to Beer or Alcohol-Free
- A fizzy soft drink like cola or ginger beer.
- White wine
- Baked beans: Take the label off the can, open the can and use it instead of beer. Once the chicken cooks, bring the chicken juice-soaked beans to a boil in a pot on the stovetop and serve them as a flavourful side dish.
We must try the baked beans, that sounds really nice. That’s something for next summer, barbecue season is definitely over in the UK.
Beer Can Cooking Rub
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons granulated onion
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- Mix together brown sugar, dry mustard, granulated onion, paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Store in an airtight container if not using right away.