Beer-in-the-butt Chicken


orry to my readers but particularly those vegans among us who might find this offensive but its by far my favourite way to cook a whole chicken. Firstly for its ease and secondly for the moisture it maintains. The beer not only creates a steam around and inside the chicken during roasting but it also makes for an excellent gravy.

Some recipes call for this method on the BBQ but I’ve never had a good experience cooking a whole chicken on the BBQ in anyway unless spatchcocked. It takes too long and by the time the heat has penetrated to the core bone meat, the outer breast meat is dry and overcooked. If you’re going to cook a whole chicken on the BBQ either spatchcock it first or at least pre-cook it for 70% of the way in the oven before finishing on the BBQ to get that lovely charred flavour. It’ll also help you to preserve any sticky marinade you don’t want burnt off and destroyed in the first 10 minutes!

This recipe will serve as many as the chicken is big!

  • 1 chicken
  • 1 red onion, quartered roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 330ml can lager. Choose a milld lager so it doesn’t overpower your gravy.
  • 25g butter (soft, not fridge cold)
  • Few springs thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Take deep baking tray and throw in your red onion and garlic.
  3. Mix the butter with the thyme and some salt and pepper and use it either stuff under the breast and thigh skin of the chicken or on top. Either is fine.
  4. Tip out about 3/4 of your can of lager into the baking tray and then sit the can in the middle.
  5. Place the chicken on top and push down so its sitting snuggly. Roast in the oven for about 1 hour but this will depend not he size of your chicken. Make sure to keep topping put the tray with a bit more beer/white/water depending on what you have around. You don’t want it to dry out.
  6. Once cooked and looking golden, remove from the oven. Carefully (this is the hard bit as the can will be HOT) remove the chicken from the can. I like to use my oven gloves and then just wash them afterwards. Place the chicken, cover and leave to rest.
  7. Tip any remaining beer into the tray and either pop the tray directly onto the hob or tips the contents into a saucepan.
  8. Whisk well adding a splash of water and a tsp or two of Bisto to make a lovely gravy. Taste and season. I like to keep my gravy chunky with the onions pieces but you can blend if you like.
  9. Carve you chicken when ready and serve with your gravy.

I served mine with some polenta chips and some lightly boiled and buttered kale and peas.

Polenta Chips

  • 150g instant cook polenta, please extra for dusting
  • 400ml vegetable stock (1 x cube crumbled into water)
  • 1 large sprig thyme, leaves picked
  • 30g parmesan cheese, finely grated.
  1. Start by getting your container ready. Once cooked you put the polenta into a mould (i.e. container) to let it cool before cutting into pieces so best to chose a tupperware or something that is rectangle shape and not too large. Oil it lightly inside.
  2. Bring the stock to the simmer in a saucepan.
  3. Season your polenta well with salt and pepper.
  4. Once it is simmering, whisk in the polenta stirring quickly. It will start to thicken instantly. Keep whisking and then take off the heat – I find this takes about 1 minute so don’t be alarmed if it happens fast.
  5. Once off the heat, add in the cheese and thyme and mix well.
  6. Press the mixture lightly into your container so its about 1 inch thick. You may need multiple containers.
  7. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  8. Once chilled, remove from the moulds and cut into chip sizes and dust in extra polenta on a plate. Once you’ve done them all you should have  a plate of chips!
  9. Heat some sunflowers oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry them on all sides until golden and crispy. They can take some time to colour so be patient.