The idea is that a half-drunk can of beer, inserted into the chicken in a sadly undignified manner, will create steam inside the bird during cooking, keeping it moist and juicy.
This recipe comes with an urgent health warning: the can of beer provides a very precarious perch and it will be hotter than hell when you take it out of the oven.
Removing the can requires dexterity, oven gloves, and kitchen tongs. If it gets stuck, put the chicken on its side, pull the can out with your tongs and try not to remember that joke about the gynaecologist who painted his hallway through the letterbox.
Spicy Beer Can Chicken
A chicken approx 2kg in weight, free range if possible
A 330ml can of beer (I used a Suffolk IPA; cider would also be good or if you want a teetotal bird use chicken stock)
1 tbsp olive oil
For the rub:
1 tspn chilli flakes
1 tspn fennel seeds
1 tspn coriander seeds
1 tspn sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tspn black peppercorns
1/2 tspn sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 or prepare your barbecue to the same temperature, ready to cook on indirect heat.
Grind the spices together in a pestle and mortar.
Rub the chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil and massage in the spice rub, trying to get it into all the nooks and crannies.
Drink half of the beer then lower the chicken carefully onto the half-full can so it’s sitting up and its legs help form a tripod.
Put it all – carefully – onto a roasting tray and cook for about an hour and a half or an hour and 40 minutes, until the juices run clear when you poke a knife into the thickest part of the leg.
Remove – carefully! – from the oven or barbecue and leave to rest for 10 minutes before attempting to remove the beer can (see comments above). Carve into thick slices and serve. You should have a very juicy, succulent bird with delicious crispy skin.
We ate it with harissa mayonnaise, buttered new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli tossed with soy sauce.