Monday 22 August 2011

Beer Can Chicken (aka Punk Ass Chicken) with Roasted Garlic IPA Mash

Chicken cooked with a can of beer up its bottom. Also known as beer butt chicken or, in this case, Punk Ass Chicken.

I think people cook Beer Can Chicken for one reason: it looks awesome. Seeing that bird perched on the can, legs and wings akimbo, almost human, as if you’ve stitched up your mate big time and tied him to a bin, naked, cannot fail to impress the inner school boy (just look at the image above!), while the machismo of grilling a bird whole appeals to the manly man’s manliness. Who doesn’t look at a Beer Can Chicken and think ‘I need to cook that’?

So Beer Can Chicken was a dish I needed to cook. It’s a BBQ dish but I don’t have a BBQ (third floor flat, no outside space; disposable BBQ in the park not up to the job) so I used the oven. I decided on Punk IPA because it gave me an excuse to buy a four-pack and because I could call it Punk Ass Chicken. It wasn’t a difficult decision.

The first job is the best one: drink half a can of beer. You need the can open and half full. Then you need to get the chicken ready. I gave it a luxurious massage in oil, salt, pepper, paprika, fresh thyme, sugar, cloves of garlic and a little Punk before leaving it for an hour or so. When ready, heat the oven to 200C and empty it from all shelves except the lowest one.

Inserting the beer can is not the easiest job, especially with a heavy bird rubbed in slippery oil. Thankfully, like a nostril and a forefinger, a chicken’s back cavity appears to be the exact same size as a beer can, so once you’ve got hold of the bird it goes in with a satisfying push. At this point it looks a bit sorry for itself, all pink and cold with a can up its arse, but don’t feel remorse as it’s time to get it in the oven (do this very carefully – the bird is top heavy and mine fell after about 15 minutes in the oven and I need to go on an awkward recovery mission).

Around 90 minutes later (more for a bigger bird) and it’s done and looking resplendent and wonderful and crispy (I think there are few finer food sights than a roasted chicken). The only issue comes when trying to get the can out of the chicken at the end; the bird is heavy and hot and the can is filled with boiling beer. Place your hands on either side of the chicken and lift and wiggle until the can slides out.

To go with it I cooked a recipe which I’ve read many times but never dared cook: the brilliant Homebrew Chef’s roasted garlic IPA mash potato. Roast garlic until soft, heat milk or cream with butter, thyme and seasoning, make a paste with the roasted garlic cloves and add to the milk mix, add a little IPA (I used Punk) and then mix it all together with mashed potatoes. Creamy, garlicky, rich and then a little fruity from the IPA, the hop bitterness is covered by the butter while the roast garlic brings its own bitterness. It’s fantastic and a great side for the chicken.

The question I was most interested in when cooking this was how much impact does the beer have on the taste? By using a strongly scented beer I hoped to get something fragrant in the meat which I could then adapt in the future by using different beers and birds. When hot I couldn’t taste the Punk (I got a little on the skin as it’d been marinated and basted in it) but when it cooled and I was picking my way through the rest of the carcass I could definitely taste a Punk-like fruitiness through it.

One of my favourite things in the whole world to eat is a just-roasted chicken with crispy, salty skin. Add a beer can into that and things get even better. Served with the IPA mash, some cooking juices and a Goose Island IPA on the side and it was a feast of wonderful hops. Beer Can Chicken (or Punk Ass Chicken) was a great success. If you’ve never made it then what are you waiting for?


  1. This looks really good - two thumbs up!

    Something I've tried a couple of times is to add garlic, spices and so on into the beer in the can - to add some extra taste during the cooking.

    // Mike

  2. "Seeing that bird perched on the can, legs and wings akimbo, almost human, as if you’ve stitched up your mate big time and tied him to a bin, naked, cannot fail to impress the inner school boy"

    I am seriously reconsidering whether to attend the next twissup after that glimpse into the uncensored Dredgemind.


  3. HAHA! Sorry, I couldn't help but laugh throughout this post. Absolutely fantastic! :D

  4. Mike - Nice addition to the idea!

    Nick - Come on, don't tell me you don't giggle when you see that bird perched on the can!

    Ghost - Good, that's what I hoping for :)

  5. Beer cooking -I love it! Also, I totally love new cooking ways! Especially when they 're brutal!
    So here, you have to impale the chicken!
    Now that's a recipe for me! A dark recipe I have to try to justify my nickname! ;)

  6. Haha! will have to try that, I mustn't forget to open the can and not do it in the microwave though

  7. Finally, proof that Punk IPA is cooking lager.

  8. Mark, do the same thing on your grill or barbecue! It's even better!

  9. Even as you were showing the bird "preparation" on Twitter I knew that after this post, I'd have to make this, especially with the mash addition.

    I was wondering though if a dark beer would work, specifically something like a Maui Brewing Coconut Porter, would that be too overpowering for the chicken? (if so, do any light coconut beers spring to mind)
    Add a few spices to the mix, a little lemongrass and perhaps some coriander to give it a Thai twist?

    Certainly got my culinary creative juices flowing mate, loving your work ;)

    Cheers, Phil

  10. In the words of Lilu from Fifth Element:

    "Chi-cken gooood"

  11. Roasted Garlic IPA Mash soudns ace - I've done Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash before (which is ace if you've never done it) but surprisingly not normal Mash! Great to see these experiments though, dude! Looks delish.

  12. Craig - I wish I had a BBQ to do it on! Might have to wait until next summer and try it at my parents.

    Phil - A dark beer would work - any beer will work. Maui is very subtle in the coconut so I don't think you'd get that flavour. It might make a great marinade though! You can always just empty out any old can of beer, rinse it and then refill with the beer of your choice.

    Kavey - EVERYONE needs beer can chicken!

    Leigh - The mash was great! Different and delicious.

  13. If you do it on the BBQ, how do you tip it up without spilling the beer, or am I really missing the trick?

  14. Damnit my mouth is watering. I have to do this now.

    One question, would the heat not release some of the chemicals (paint and stuff) on the can in to the chicken?

  15. mudskipperbeerlife - I'm not sure I understand the question so perhaps you are missing something... Doing it on the BBQ I'd prepare it all inside and then take it out and just stand it on the grill (and hope it stays upright!).

    ToA - Good question about chemicals. I have no idea of the answer! As it cooks for 90 minutes at 200C I'd guess that that is hot enough to kill off any nasties.

  16. Can't look at that picture without imagining Withnail and I avoiding sodomy in a soggy cottage. BrewDog will have tasted better than Withnail's boot at the very least.

    Mark, I don't think that chemicals fall under the category of "nasties". Anything that would be killed off by heat would be biological, not chemical.

    I dug around a bit and it seems it is probably safe, but only if your can is not crushed or creased and it does not have metallic paint on it. In those circumstances there is the vague possibility you'll do yourself a mischief:

  17. I think that cans in the US and EU have to conform to safety standards that would mean unless they are scratched or pierced there should be no risk from the paints used.

    If you were really worried, you could take ALL THE FUN out by using this:

    when I do BKC in an oven, I cover the whole shebang: chicken, can, roasting tray very loosely in foil. This lets the chicken steam in the beery juices and I think comes out beerier and moister. Once the chicken is cooked, I crisp up the skin for 10 mins or so in a hot oven under the grill (having removed the can, and turning frequently) - that gives enough time to reduce the beery herby chickeny juices into an awesome gravy, thickened with a teeny bit of flour.