Beer can chicken: a man’s roast

With father’s day around the corner, why not cook dad a good old chicken on the braai, with a can up its you-know-what

Have you ever stuck a beer can up a chicken? With Father’s day around the corner, we decided that it would be a good idea to upload some ideas for Father’s Day lunch. Being a father myself, and a son to an amazing dad, I decided to go first and share one of my favourite “dad” meals.

Now, I need to first set the record straight. Beer can chicken is not a delicate job. If you have a mother, wife or anyone else who moans about a messy kitchen, now is your chance to leave bits of herbs and dollops of olive oil all over the counter, on drawer handles and possibly even on the blinds. Secondly, I could not find a suitable South African video. Yes, I know Weber is an American company but there is NO COUNTRY in the world that owns the braai like South Africa. Finished and klaar. Any non-South African reading this: I challenge you now! (Yes, that is braai bravado.)

Now, you will find many recipes and videos all over the internet that give a gas option. Again, let me set the record straight. That thing that blows gas onto an open flame is not a braai. It is a barbecue. A braai is made with wood and/or coals and that’s final. Please people. Never invite someone to a “braai” and cook on gas. It’s just not cool. Now that I have alienated about 40% of the readers, let’s continue.

This meal is made with real coals and it is made in a kettle braai. It does not have to be a Weber. Secondly, it is made with a beer can. Now, I understand that there are people and cultures that are unable to use beer, and in those cases an appletiser works, but is a bit sweet.


I am often asked whether the food tastes like beer. Absolutely not. I do it a bit differently, and use a can opener to open the entire can (like a can of baked beans) and then drink half of the beer, and drop onion and garlic into the remaining beer. I also place onion and garlic into the chicken to add some woema.

This is indelicate. Rub olive oil all over the chicken and then spice it how you see fit, but remember the herbs. The more the merrier. This is not about measuring ounces. South African companies have built grids that hold the beer and make the job easier, but it is not needed. I now use the grid, purely because I make this meal so often.

All tutorials say that you should place the coals on either side of the kettle braai. I find this makes no difference if you get the coals’ temperature right. Too hot and you will turn the bird into charcoal and too cold and you will be on your way to casualty with salmonella poisoning – okay that is an exaggeration but you get the point.

Insert the can into the chicken so that the bird sits upright. Then you transport it to the grid and sit it nicely on the grid. It looks like the chicken is sitting on a deck chair. Make sure the breather holes at the bottom of the kettle braai are open. Then close the lid – with the holes open. This is your accelerator. If the coals are too hot you can cut the oxygen to control the heat – remember, you can also kill the coals.

Do not touch ANYTHING for 50-odd minutes. The smoke coming out of the holes in the lid will be so amazing you will hear your neighbours clamouring to find out what is happening. It may even cause rages of jealousy and bring traffic to a standstill.

My chickens cook in around 70 minutes but it has been more and it has been less – here the true braaimaster comes to the fore.

The bird will be well steamed and smoked, making the most delicious roast chicken you have ever tasted. Serve with a light, exotic salad (such as baby spinach, peppers, nuts, seeds, cheese and cubes of seasonal fruit) and roasted baby potatoes.

Below is a video from the United States. It took a lot of hard work to try find a foreign video that came close to displaying the kind of gritty roughness that should accompany this kind of meal. It is a boy’s day out and it should not be a classy event. The only class in this entire meal is the flavour and quality of the cooked meat, which is second to nothing.

Happy father’s day and enjoy!

This video is on the Daily Tribune’s YouTube channel




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