The Whole Chicken Project TM_WC_BEERC_FI_001

Off the Grill

An apartment-friendly adaptation of a BBQ classic: beer can chicken


For the last 11 years, I’ve lived in the same apartment in Center City Philadelphia. It has many admirable qualities, including good neighbors, giant closets, and a dreamy location. The one thing it does not have is any outdoor space. This means that when summer rolls around, I have two options when it comes to making classic grilled dishes. I can borrow access to a Weber or I can find a way to fake it in my kitchen.

While I do occasionally schlep food to a friend’s grill when nothing else will do, most of the time I find a way to make it work with what I have. I make liberal use of a stovetop grill pan and I’ve gotten comfortable cranking my oven to 500°F in an attempt to mimic the high heat of an outdoor barbecue.

Most recently, I adapted a classic grilled chicken to work in my oven as part of my monthly Whole Chicken Project. Most of you are probably familiar with this approach (least in theory, if not practice). You take a beer can, pour off the first third of the liquid, pop a few aromatic odds and ends into the can and then perch a chicken on the can. Then the whole thing is roasted or grilled upright. The beer lends flavor and moisture, as well as making for a novel set-up.

A few notes:

I like to flavor the beer before settling the chicken on top. A few garlic cloves and a sprig or two of fresh herbs are always nice.

I typically rub my chicken down with herbs de Provence, salt and pepper before roasting. For a bird that tastes even more like it was cooked on the grill, swap in some smoked paprika for the herbs.

Because this is a summertime, picnicky chicken, I like to serve it with a couple light salads. You can’t go wrong with a green salad, and the pesto pasta salad is a classic for al fresco meals.

I used a wide mouth beer can from Sly Fox. These cans are awesome for this application, because there’s more surface area from which the beer can steam into the chicken. However, any beer can will do in a pinch.

Beer Can Chicken


1 whole chicken, approximately 3½ to 4 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 12-ounce can beer
2-3 cloves garlic


Remove one rack from your oven so that the chicken has room to sit and pre-heat it to 500°F.

Remove the chicken from its packaging and pat it dry with paper towels. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Using your hands, rub the spices into the skin.

Open beer can and pour out approximately one-third. Place the garlic cloves into the beer can and place it in a roasting pan. Carefully position the chicken on top of the can. I like to arrange the legs so that one is in front and the other is behind, as I find that this helps the balance the chicken.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 425°F. Roast the chicken for 60 to 75 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads at least 165°F.

Remove pan from oven and let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes. When you’re ready to carve, carefully remove the chicken from its beer can perch (the liquid will still be quite hot) and place it on a cutting board.

Serve warm or chilled.

Whole Wheat Pesto Pasta Salad


½ cup pesto (either store bought or homemade is fine)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces small whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente
1 red pepper, chopped
½ English cucumber, quartered and chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
5-6 green onions, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed


Combine pesto and red wine vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and add dressing. Stir until ingredients are evenly combined and serve.

Easy Green Salad


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 generous handfuls baby salad greens


In the bottom of a large salad bowl, combine the mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper and whisk them together. Place the greens on top of the dressing. When you’re ready to serve, toss the greens to distribute the dressing.

Marisa McClellan is a food blogger, freelance writer and canning teacher based in Center City Philadelphia. She runs a website called Food in Jars, where she writes about canning, preserving and delicious things made from scratch. She regularly writes for the Food Network, USA Today, Grid Philly and Mrs. Wages. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.


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