Party Fowl

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When invited over to someone else’s home for a barbecue, proper party etiquette usually dictates that you not point and laugh at the main dish as it is brought to the dinner table. That would be rude.

However, grilling a whole chicken with a beer can stuck betwixt its drumsticks not only yields a moist and flavorful bird, but it also merits a few chuckles when presented to the table. So by all means, do point and laugh if you are ever presented with beer-can chicken. But you should also be ready for a tasty treat once the bird is on your plate. And there are quite a few foods that combine both hilarity and deliciousness like beer-can chicken can. Just look at that picture above. It appears to be a nicely roasted and juicy chicken on a grill (delicious!), but then there’s a beer can stuck up its arse (hilarious!). Sorry, but I’m easily amused.

Although vertically roasting a chicken with a half-full (hooray for optimism!) beer-can stuck where the sun don’t shine is a common practice in many parts, there may still be some of you out there unaccustomed to such culinary delights. Let me first explain that the beer-can is more than just a novelty–it actually does help prevent the chicken from drying out by steaming the bird from the inside out, all the while perfuming it with beery goodness. Grilling in this manner is also not limited to just beer-cans. You could also use fruit punch, colas, energy drinks, whoop-ass, and whatever else comes in a can these days.

Now I make beer-can chicken a few times a year, and I normally take to dispensing a dry rub of herbs and spices to flavor my bird. But this being a Filipino food blog and all, I figured I’d do a Filipino-style barbecue. And if there’s one culinary tradition that Filipinos and Americans have in common, it’s good barbecue.

Of course, Pinoys can lay claim to piggy goodness in things like Lechon, but we can also grill up a mean and tasty bird in the form of Chicken Inasal–chicken marinated in a heady mixture of vinegar and lemongrass and then thrown on the grill while being basted with red achuete oil.

Mmmmm. Beer-Can Chicken Inasal. It’s the best of both worlds.


Although the chicken in chicken inasal is usually cut up and put on skewers, I had to keep my chicken whole in order to roast it on the beer can. So I stuck my chicken into a gallon-sized zip top bag and poured in a mixture of coconut vinegar, soy, kalamansi juice, brown sugar, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger (yes, it all actually fit in the bag, but feel free to use a big bowl). I let everything marinate for 8 hours, flipping the bird (literally) halfway through so that everything was evenly marinated.

Next, I chugged half a beer and spooned in a bit of the marinade and lemongrass into the can and poked a couple more holes at the top of the beer-can. I also use a special beer-can chicken stand to help hold the chicken upright, but this is by no means necessary. I only have a stand because I make beer-can chicken so much and I’ve had one too many chickens tip over on the grill. But a beer-can and the chicken’s legs should be enough to serve as a tripod in holding the chicken upright.

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After the chicken was done marinating, I plopped it on the beer can and gave it a good swabbing with achuete oil (vegetable oil that was steeped with annato seeds). Achuete oil has a very mild flavor, so it’s used mostly for its color rather than for taste. With that said though, the oil also helps to absorb the smokiness from the grill.

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Speaking of smoke, if you happen to have a gas grill like I do, that doesn’t mean you can’t duplicate the smokiness of a charcoal grill. Just fashion yourself a smoke bomb by soaking wood chips in water and then wrapping the wood in a foil pouch. You can leave the top of the pouch open, as well as perforate the pouch, and place it over the flames of your gas grill. The wood will smolder and begin to smoke from the openings of the pouch.

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Finally, I put the beer-canned chicken on my grill over indirect medium heat (350 degrees to be more specific) and opposite the smoke bomb.

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After about an hour and twenty minutes, my 3.5 pound chicken was done. It was moist and flavorful from the beer, smokey from the grill, and sweet and tangy from the inasal marinade. Chicken inasal is usually served with a side sauce of vinegar and chilies, but I served it with white rice, grilled veggies, atchara, and a cold beer (don’t drink what’s left in the can that was stuffed into the chicken, unless you like hot beer and chicken grease).

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Beer-Can Chicken Inasal

1 cup coconut vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup kalamansi juice, or lime juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 stalks lemongrass, chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
3.5 – 4 lb. whole chicken
1 can of beer
1/4 cup achuete oil (recipe below)
1 cup hickory chips, or other wood for smoking, soaked in water for 1 hour and drained

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, soy, kalamansi juice, brown sugar, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and stir until sugar dissolves.

Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag, or in a large bowl, and pour marinade over the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours, turn the chicken over, and let marinate for another 4 hours. After chicken is done marinating, remove from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.

Drink half of the beer, then poke some holes in the top of the beer-can with a can opener. If desired, pour a small amount of marinade into the beer-can. Lower the chicken onto the top of the beer-can and baste the chicken all over with some achuete oil.

If using a gas grill, place the soaked wood chips in a foil pouch and perforate the pouch with a knife to allow smoke to escape. Place the pouch above the flames on your grill, or place the wood chips in the smoker box if you have one. If using a charcoal grill, just place the wood chips directly onto the charcoal.

Place the beer-can chicken onto your grill over indirect medium heat (350 degrees for a gas grill) and roast with the grill cover closed for 1 hour to 1.5 hours, basting with the achuete oil every 20-30 minutes.

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Achuete Oil
adapted from “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan

1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Annatto seeds
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the oil begins to bubble, remove from heat and let the ingredients steep for 1-2 hours.

Pour cooled oil through a cheesecloth-lined funnel and into an airtight container. Store oil in refrigerator.

  • oggi May 29, 2008, 4:05 pm

    The chicken with something hanging from its butt is so funny.:D
    I made grilled chicken with a can of beer just once when my daughter asked, not inasal though. And you are right, it makes the bird moist and tasty.
    BTW, I baste chicken inasal with melted Star margarine, a Filipino brand. I don’t know if it makes a difference in flavor but some Filipinos swear it does.

    Reply
  • TeddyKim May 29, 2008, 9:31 pm

    Nicely done! I love the color the oil gives the chicken.

    Reply
  • joey May 30, 2008, 2:34 am

    This looks so so delicious! And beer can chicken inasal is just GENIUS! I have been so curious about beer can chicken ever since I heard about it…but I don’t have a grill :( Is there anyway possible to make it without one? Like in the oven? I know it wont taste the same…

    Reply
  • Jamie Anne May 30, 2008, 4:34 am

    droooooooooling.
    it looks soooooooooo good.
    hahaha! the picture was hilarious!
    when i hadn’t scrolled down yet, it looked like a buddha head…
    Genius, kuya.

    Reply
  • Janice May 30, 2008, 5:56 am

    Nothing is quite as beautiful as poultry with a can of alcohol shoved up its backside.

    Reply
  • Fearless Kitchen May 30, 2008, 6:40 am

    I’ve never tried to make beer-can chicken. I’ve always tried to avoid food that makes me giggle – increases the choking risk, I guess. Your recipe looks like it adds enough flavor besides beer to make me want to give it a go!

    Reply
  • DocChuck May 30, 2008, 8:21 am

    I have been doing “beer can chicken” for a number of years now, but I’m not sure mine has ever turned out looking quite as good as yours.
    Congratulations a job well done.

    Reply
  • Julie May 30, 2008, 12:28 pm

    Now I’m torn. I was going to try root beer chicken this weekend and let the chicken dry up before oven roasting (I don’t have a barbecue) so I could get some crispy skin, but this sounds awesome, too … and dang, it looks awesome.

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  • Hillary May 30, 2008, 2:51 pm

    Yum…I’ve never had beer can chicken but I hear about it a lot and need to try it someday. Thanks for the step by step!

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  • Cynthia May 30, 2008, 6:43 pm

    Your writing is always such a pleasure to read as you are thorough in your explanations.
    I’ve never tried roasting chicken upright before.

    Reply
  • mabuhay May 30, 2008, 11:31 pm

    try it with san miguel beer

    Reply
  • Wandering Chopsticks May 31, 2008, 12:36 am

    Lemongrass, ginger, kalamansi juice, vinegar, sounds like my kind of marinade. I’d bake it and shove some lemongrass and kalamansi up the poor chicken’s hole though. Err, ugh, yeah, you know what I mean.
    Blue Ribbon, what? Not a Filipino brand?
    What does coconut vinegar taste like? I just noticed it the other day at the grocery store and was intrigued.

    Reply
  • Babette May 31, 2008, 3:49 am

    Wow, that looks so delicious! You’ve got me drooling here. I know what I’m going to cook for dinner today. Thanks!

    Reply
  • dhanggit May 31, 2008, 4:51 am

    oh la lala, your chicken inasal in beer looks like a real king!!! no better way to serve it but with rice and atsara :-) you just made my day!!

    Reply
  • Manggy May 31, 2008, 7:26 am

    YES!!! I love chicken inasal. I’m very particular about it too– I have tasted inasals that I have deemed unworthy, hahaha. Yours looks fantastic. I wonder if light beer works, hahaha. We don’t have a holder, though. That’s hardcore.
    You served it with atchara– I was thinking that. Excellent. I eat mine lightly basted with a mix of soy sauce and crushed bird’s eye chilis. I don’t have the stomach for the vinegar with nematodes swimming in it.

    Reply
  • Pat May 31, 2008, 10:28 am

    I first heard about beer can bbq chicken on the Paula Deen show (don’t ask me what I was doing watching the Paula Deen show) and thought it was a fab idea! With lemongrass and ginger, it sounds even yummier! So someone had given me a similar recipe for marinating beef kebabs but the beer gets poured into the marinade. Sound familiar? Excellent photo btw!

    Reply
  • bernadette May 31, 2008, 10:11 pm

    while actually reading your post, a neighbor of ours seems to be also grilling chicken barbecue! So, the post has become sooo yummy sensory!
    I think your photo is just too cartoon-y! Haha! But I do love chicken inasal and will write down your interesting recipe asap! I just hope my husband find chicken seated on top of a beer can just as sensible!
    Thanks, Marvin!

    Reply
  • manju June 1, 2008, 8:55 am

    OMG, this is hands down the best beer can chicken I’ve ever seen! We’ve made BCC a couple of times, but it really didn’t do a lot for us. We’re going to try your recipe next weekend. Lemongrass in Filipino cooking is a revelation for me.

    Reply
  • coastalvicar June 1, 2008, 1:32 pm

    Where did you purchase the can holders/stands? They look so much more stable than just balancing the chicken on the can…..and I have lost a few chickens to the coals that way.
    cv

    Reply
  • Lori Lynn @ Taste With The Eyes June 2, 2008, 6:31 pm

    Marvin – I’ve read several posts on beer can chicken but yours is the most hilarious! Even your picture is funnier than most. Haha, and the basting photo where the chicken has his hand on his hip…this is too much.
    Thanks for the good advice not to drink the hot beer….

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia June 4, 2008, 9:00 am

    Star margarine, oggi? I’ll look for that brand next time, although I am weary of margarine.
    Thanks TK. The achuete gives it a nice orange-red glow.
    Hi joey! Yes, you can definitely make this in the oven, although you will be missing the smokiness from the grill. Just put the beer and chicken in a pan that will catch the drippings.
    Thank you very much, Jamie Anne.
    Very true, Janice. It is quite beautiful;)
    Hello Fearless Kitchen! Yes, besides the beer, the inasal marinade adds even more to the flavor.
    Thanks DocChuck!
    Root beer chicken sounds awesome Julie. And drying out the chicken to get a crisp skin is a great idea.
    No problem, Hillary. You should definitely give it a try as it isn’t hard at all.
    Thanks very much, Cynthia!
    Hello Mabuhay! I looked for san mig in cans, but I couldn’t find any!
    I couldn’t find filipino beer in cans, WC. Sad, but true. And coconut vinegar is somewhat mild compared to apple cider vinegar. I should do a taste test like you did with fish sauces!
    No prob, Babette. I hope it turns out ok;)
    Hi dhanggit! It was especially good with the atsara!
    Nematodes, manggy? Your making me paranoid now!
    You could do worse than Paula Deen, Pat;) And the kebabs marinated in beer does sound familiar–my dad does it with pork though.
    There’s nothing more sensible than a chicken sitting on beer, bernadette!
    Thanks for the comment, manju! And this was also my first time using lemongrass actually, but every inasal recipe I’ve seen uses it.
    Hello CV. It’s been a couple years, but I think I purchased the can holder at a kitchen gadget store like bed bath and beyond, although I’ve seen the holders sold at the hardware store where the grills and barbecues are displayed as well.
    I’m glad you found it funny Lori Lynn! Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Reply
  • MrsDocChuck June 10, 2008, 11:32 am

    That chicken looks exactly like my chubby hubby!! LOL!!

    Reply
  • G_mirage June 17, 2008, 11:58 am

    lol, it looks so inviting in that sitting position!!! Nicely done (looks and I bet the taste is as well!)

    Reply
  • Rebecca (Foodie With Family) July 6, 2008, 12:11 pm

    I’ve been lurking on your site for quite a while. I had to comment on this post in order to thank you, thank you thank you for a barbecued chicken inasal recipe.
    One of my Mom’s dear friends when I was growing up was a Filipina lady who lived near us. There wasn’t a whole heckuva lot of “exotic” cooking going on in rural Northern Michigan at the time so Tecla was THRILLED to have people who loved to eat her cooking (read: my family!) My favorites were her lumpia, adobo chicken and INASAL! While I regularly make lumpia and adobo for my big old family, I had forgotten about inasal until I read this post.
    The beer can chicken is one we’ve done for a while here (my sons refer to it as “beer butt chicken”.) I’ll be making it inasal style very, very soon!

    Reply
  • reader August 8, 2008, 5:44 pm

    wow, i can’t believe no one here commented about the link between the aluminium can and your food and the link of causing alzheimers. everyone knows you never use a can to smoke because of the repercussions

    Reply
  • akie mamen na malupet November 28, 2008, 7:35 am

    wow,amazing!the inasal was delicious i don’t control myself for taste it! but how can i do because its a monitor

    Reply
  • akie mamen na malupet November 28, 2008, 7:37 am

    let’s drink some beer!!!!

    Reply
  • akie mamen na malupet November 28, 2008, 7:38 am

    let’s drink some beer!!!!

    Reply
  • RWCFoodie February 19, 2009, 7:24 am

    We love to do beer can chicken and your marinade sounds fabulous – I’m so looking forward to making it (I’m one of those folks who doesn’t like bbq in cold weather, so it will wait for Spring (right around the corner here). Also, I have a beer can chicken “roost” that will do 4, count em, 4 chickens at one time! And it’s 18/10 stainless too… Don’t know if they are still available but I got it online from someplace in the South (US). Love your blog!

    Reply
  • BBGrill Covers June 19, 2009, 9:27 pm

    this was a great recipe. i especially thank you for making it detailed for people like me who have always been afraid of whole chickens + grills… =)

    Reply
  • Chicago Property Management January 21, 2010, 5:08 am

    I love chicken inasal. It is one of my comfort food. I usually go to a restaurant to enjoy one. Now I can ask my family to help me make one at home. Thanks for this awesome recipe. Thanks for this nice post.

    Reply
  • free wordpress themes June 11, 2010, 10:13 am

    OMG! The pic’s gross!

    Reply
  • monkeyboyrob October 2, 2012, 4:25 pm

    hahahahaha! i love beer can chicken, it is truly a redneck delight. and now there is a mestizo version to satisfy my cultural sensibilities! awesome!!!

    Reply
  • monkeyboyrob October 2, 2012, 4:29 pm

    oh, and-
    i seriously doubt that the occasional aluminum can up a bird’s butt is going to cause alzheimer’s. just make sure none of your other “cookware” is aluminum…

    Reply

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