Tales from the Big Green Egg: Beer-Butt Chicken by Rick Browne
Beer-Can Chicken. Drunk Chicken. Beer-Butt Chicken. All of these less-than-elegant names refer to a chicken cooking method that produces some of the juiciest, tastiest chicken you’ll ever eat from a grill. Cooking a “Beer-Butt Chicken” on the Big Green Egg just revs up the flavor factor even more, making it a perfect dish to prepare on the Egg. Even if you’ve tried cooking a whole chicken before (on the grill or in the oven) and ended up with unevenly cooked chicken or dried-out white meat, this method is so forgiving that it quickly becomes a go-to recipe for anyone who tries it.
First, you’ll want to prepare the homemade rub, and then apply it generously all over the chicken. Gently pull up the skin over the breast and rub more of the spices under the skin, and apply inside the cavity as well. It’s a good idea to make a double batch of the rub so that you won’t run out! Cover the chicken and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Next, you’ll want to prepare the basting mixture and pour into a spray bottle using a funnel. The Big Green Egg company makes a “Sittin’ Chicken” Ceramic Roaster; if you are using that, pour the remaining beer into the cavity and slide the tail end of the chicken over the top. However, you can also slide the chicken directly onto the beer can itself. If you do this, it’s a good idea to use the chicken legs as a sort of “tripod” to support it on the grill once you’re ready to cook. We used a beer-can roaster that we had on hand since this was already one of our favorite ways to prepare chicken!
Cook the chicken over direct heat at 375 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting several times. After the first 20 minutes, you’ll want to lift the chicken into a drip pan. For complete peace of mind for the serious grillmasters out there, you’ll want to invest in an electronic, wireless thermometer. We love the Grill Alert Talking Remote Meat Thermometer from Brookstone – you can set it to whatever meat you’re cooking and how well done you’d like it, and the handset will give you a real-time update on the chicken’s internal temperature. We’ve used it on everything from chicken and lamb to Boston butts!
Even though the grill temperature got a little out of hand due to my over-aggressive adjustment of the Big Green Egg draft door and daisy wheel, this chicken came out absolutely delicious (I told you this method was forgiving!). Beer-Butt Chicken is so tasty on its own, but it’s even better served with your favorite barbecue sauces. We enjoyed it with a homemade salad chock full of cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta cheese, plus some microwaveable green beans. All in all, it was a hearty and healthy weeknight dinner!
Here is the recipe for Rick Browne’s Beer-Butt Chicken as published in the Big Green Egg Cookbook:
Equipment: Porcelain coated grid, 1 (12-ounce) beer can or “Sittin’ Chicken” Ceramic Roaster, 9 by 13-inch Drip Pan, spray bottle,Set the EGG for direct cooking with the porcelain coated grid.Preheat the EGG to 375ºF.
Ingredients:Rub1 teaspoon brown sugar1 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon dried summer savory1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper1 teaspoon chili powder1 teaspoon sweet paprika1 teaspoon dry mustard1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken1 (12-ounce) can beer1 cup apple cider2 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
To make the rub, combine the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, summer savory, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until incorporated. Apply the rub all over the chicken, even inside the cavity. Work the mixture gently into the skin and under the skin wherever possible. Cover the chicken and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Pour half of the beer into the spray bottle. Add the apple cider, olive oil, and vinegar and set aside. If using the Ceramic Roaster, pour the remaining beer into the cavity of the Roaster and slide the chicken onto the Roaster, through the tail end. If using the beer can, slide the chicken down over the can.
Place the chicken, still on the Roaster, on the grid and close the lid of the EGG. Cook, using the spray bottle to baste the chicken once or twice, for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is just beginning to brown all over. Carefully lift the chicken (still on the Roaster) into the Drip Pan and close the lid of the EGG. Cook, spraying the chicken with the basting spray several times, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 170ºF and the chicken is a mahogany brown color. Using barbecue mitts, remove the chicken and present it on the Roaster to your guests. After they have reacted appropriately, remove the chicken from the Roaster. Be careful: The can and the liquid inside are very hot.
Spray the chicken once more with the basting spray, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve. Serves 4—From Big Green Egg Cookbook/Andrews McMeel Publishing