Today’s recipe is inspired by one in Lisa Faulkner’s The Way I Cook. The beer should steam the chicken from the inside-out, which makes it very flavoursome and lovely and moist. Although her recipe created a lovely roast chicken, I was left uninspired. It was nothing more than a lovely roast chicken – it seemed like a faff and hassle for a flavour that could’ve been achieved much more simply and traditionally.
But you know me, I’m not one to be defeated 😉 There’s a Brasilian adaptation in my favourite Cabana The Cookbook by David Ponte, Lizzy Barber & Jamie Barber, but that called for a Brazilian cocktail to be used rather than the lager/beer, and to be honest I don’t want my TidyMunch blog to just be a narrative of my experiences trying their recipes. So I got my thinking cap on, and wondered what I could do myself!
When making the Lisa Faulkner version, I’d deliberately picked San Miguel lager as I’ve been desperately longing for a sunshine break, and it always reminds me of holidays in the Balearics. So I took my inspiration from there, with the opportunity to add my favourite ever ingredient!
And so I give you…. Spanish Beer Can Chicken!
1 whole chicken (about 1.5kg)
1 garlic bulb
2tbsp olive oil
2tsp smoked paprika
lots of chorizo (the charcuterie style stuff)
about 500g baby potatoes (or charlotte potatoes, halved or quartered)
2 large onions, quartered
1tbsp coconut oil (or more olive oil if you really must)
Sea salt & pepper
1 440ml can of lager
This served two as it is, as a substantial complete meal. You could use a larger chicken (but remember to adjust cooking times) and/or serve with additional sides/veg if you’re feeding more people.
Jay returned as my guinea pig, and gave it his seal of approval!
1. Rub the olive oil and paprika all over the chicken, and place in a large plastic bag. Bash up the garlic so that each clove bursts open and looks a bit sorry for itself (but leaving the skin on) and add this to the bag, along with the zest and juice of the lemon. Keep back one half of the lemon itself, you’ll need it in a bit. Leave the chicken to marinate for 2 hours.
2. After the 2 hours, open up the lager and drink 1/3. This is very important. Use a skewer to carefully pierce 4 holes around the can (near the top, where there is no longer any lager!) Stick the oven on at 200ºC.
3. Remove the chicken from the bag, and chuck the bits of garlic into its cavity. You won’t hear me say that often. In fact, never again. Until stage 4.
4. Sit the beer can in the roasting tin,and lower the poor chicken onto it, so that the top section of the beer can is inside the cavity. The chicken legs should form a tripod, along with the base of the beer can, to keep the chicken upright. I was a bit nervous about the chicken remaining upright, so supported it with a pyrex jug behind, at Mathew’s suggestion.
5. Use the lemon-half you kept back to “plug” the neck, and cover the chicken in slices of the chorizo. It should look like a chicken that’s making a poor attempt to conceal its true identity by wearing a meat-suit disguise. I’m not kidding. Look:
6. Rub the potatoes all-over with coconut oil (Jay did this in a bag, and squished the coconut oil in that way, to avoid oily hands) and chuck these along with the onion quarters into the bottom of the roasting tin. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
7. Pop the tray into the oven. This is quite a balancing act. I don’t know how big your oven is, but I found it necessary to take all of the shelves out, and set the roasting tin on the bottom. I also found it easier to rest the roasting tin on a baking sheet first, to make it easier to lift in and out of the oven. To be fair, I used a disposable foil roasting tin, so if you’ve a decent normal one you may find this unnecessary, but it certainly helped me.
8. From this point on, you can leave it in the oven for about an hour and a half. My chicken was slightly smaller, so it only took 80 minutes. I checked mine every 20 minutes, as I was worried about the chorizo burning. It certainly does crisp up (beyond the point that some people may want to eat, but that’s OK – it’s not really there for the eating unless you’re as addicted as me, it’s more to keep the chicken moist, and to flavour it and the veg) but science helps us out here by making sure that most of the chorizo drops off the chicken and into the tray below as it dries out. It’s safe to keep an eye on it through the door… try not to open the door too often, or you’ll lose valuable steam.
9. Once the chicken is cooked, bring it out of the oven. Leave it to cool for a while, then carefully lift it off the can (beware the can will still be hot, and there will be ridiculously hot liquid still inside. Discard the lemon-half and the garlic cloves.
10. If you like, you can pour a little of the boiling beer over the veg, but I didn’t find this necessary. The veg was moist enough from the tasty tasty chorizo-oil.
11. Carve the chicken and serve it along with the veg, and the chorizo if it looks like you’d want to eat it!
It’s another win for Tesco this week, with their overall price of £13.64, followed by Morrisons at £15.48. ASDA came in third at £17.12 and Sainsbury’s bring up the rear at £22.28.
As is often the case, it’s the price of coconut oil that makes the biggest difference here. As it’s my choice to use coconut oil (and you’ll only buy it once every little while, rather than every week) I’ve also calculated the costs without it. It paints a slightly different picture (although the terms we’ve set previously mean the “official” results are as above).
So, without the coconut oil, we’d have results in the following order: ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons, and still Sainsbury’s in last place.
I’ve tweaked this already from the more traditional-british-roast-chicken flavours of the Lisa Faulkner version, although she does acknowledge that this is an American recipe that’s intended to be cooked in a lidded barbecue. If I’m honest, I love the idea of cooking it this way, if only for the dramatic effect of unveiling it to unsuspecting guests. The smokey/charred flavour could add a new dimension, too.
If Paprika or chorizo aren’t really your thing, perhaps you could use lemon and/or lime slices instead? It would make for a much fruitier dish that could and should still be delicious and moist. Not sure I’d enjoy the veg quite as much, though! I did toy with the idea of using some Saffron, but didn’t see the value alongside the paprika. I think that’s a one-or-the-other situation, that I’d maybe go for if I was using fruit slices instead of paprika and chorizo.
My friend and colleague Charlotte, Charlotte Coxe, recommended making a bit of a sauce out of the beer, but if I’m honest the how-to eluded my technical abilities. Perhaps she’ll be kind enough to comment on the Facebook post 😉
I used Charlotte potatoes (because my home shopping delivery substituted them from the Baby ones I’d ordered) but you could just as easily user larger potatoes cut into wedges.
I’m still determined to try the Brasilian version from Cabana but this one was all about trying new things rather than following a recipe.
So let me know… how would you tweak it? What other cultural culinary conventions could you apply as an adaptation?