Beer butt chicken

It’s not every day you find yourself in a supermarket, asking your Facebook friends which 500ml can of beer you should shove up a chicken butt…In the end I bought a crappy cheap can, binned the contents and refilled to the halfway mark with some decent local beer.

Remember, kids, if it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good nought to cook with.

This is doubly true when it’s going to be used in cooking a fab free range chicken from a local farm.

Jamie’s America has been largely ignored on my shelves since I picked up a reduced copy in Eason a couple of years back. Though a fair few people write Jamie olive off as being a plummy Essex boy done good, trying to impose his will on dinner ladies, he’s got some good stuff out there. I’ve had a copy of most of his books over the years, and this is one Ive hung on to.

A rub is made with cumin and fennel seed, smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil. He recipe also calls for mild chilli powder, but I used old bay instead s a) I have it in the press and b) mild chilli powder is usually a blend of stuff that’s less tasty than old bay.

The chicken is mounted on the beer can in such a way that it can balance, and the rub is smeared all over and into the cavity. I’m not gonna lie, it’s messy and you feel like an eejit as you do it…almost like there’s a hidden cam watching.

There’s a bit of confidence, and a deep breath, in getting it into the oven quickly, keeping it upright and the temperature from dropping too much (and in not losing your eyebrows from the heat). Getting my the can right up into the cavity is key, both for stability and height.

The suggestion is to keep the sides simple, but it’s not really chicken salad weather today, so I parcooked some potatoes in the microwave (shock, horror!) and popped them in to bake with the chicken (taking less than an hour thanks to my little trick).


Quite a bit of delicious looking pan juice accumulated during cooking, and I didn’t want to waste them, so I deglazed with boiling water and thickened them slightly with a little flour.

The removal of a red hot, upright chicken from the oven, and the extraction of a red hot can part-filled with beer and goo is not one for the faint of heart, or those without good, thick oven gloves. My oven has a slide away door which made the process much easier. No worrying about a burn off a slowly creeping closed door while getting dinner out.

For me, the simplest path was to tear off a big chunk of tin foil and loosely wrap it around the chicken in the oven, then quickly and decisively grab it with oven gloves on, and stand it on a plate on the counter. More foil, and a tea towel, then over to the sink where a little mild “football hold and a wiggle” gets the can out – watch for backsplash as it lands, as there’s sugar, fat and alcohol involved and that will stick and burn.

This was really tasty. The rub flavoured the dark meat beautifully, and my old bay substitution worked perfectly. I’ll try this on the barbecue during the summer as well.

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