Whatever you call it — Beer Butt Chicken, Beer Can Chicken or Southern Drunk Chicken — this cooking method creates a moist and memorable meal.
Fire up the grill, pop a beer and give it to the chicken . . .
No, we are not actually giving beer to a live chicken, but we are going to stick a can of beer where the sun don’t shine. For this recipe you place a whole chicken on a can of beer, put it on the grill and cook it until it’s done. The bird will end up moist, infused with the flavors from the beer, and the skin will be thin and crispy from the malt and yeast of the beer.
My family and I have been making Southern Drunk Chicken for as long as I can remember, and fall is my favorite time to grill this meal. Standing before a hot grill is actually a pleasure in the fall.
The beer you choose can make a difference in the flavor of the chicken. The best advice I can give is don’t use a beer you wouldn’t drink and steer clear of dark, stout or bitter beer. If you do not like the flavor of beer you can certainly use a can of Coke or Dr. Pepper for similar cooking results. Adding any source of moisture to the chicken while grilling it keeps it from drying out; the meat will be juicy and the skin will become more of a thin crust.
For this recipe I suggest using a charcoal grill. You can use a propane grill, or even cook it in the oven, but for the absolute best flavor, break out the charcoal. Lather the chicken with oil, inside and out, and then thoroughly massage the paste all over the chicken. Before you insert the beer can into the cavity of the chicken, make sure it is only half full with beer. It will make it easier to transport and it will deter a situation of boiling beer putting your coals out.
Staying true to my Southern roots, I prefer my Drunk Chicken served with cole slaw and corn on the cob. This meal can be messy, but gathered around a table outside with friends and family is the best way to enjoy this dish on a beautiful coastal fall day. Don’t forget to pop the top of your favorite beer to wash it all down. Enjoy!