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A Q&A with Steven Raichlen on Beer-Can Chicken Revised

Beer-Can Chicken Revised Edition

Just released! Beer-can chicken is startlingly simple; grill a chicken upright over an open can to make crispy, succulent chicken of unmatched flavor. Once learned, the barbecue cook can apply this technique to endless variations: Cola-Can Chicken, Ginger Ale Chicken, Iced Tea Chicken, and more.

Written by award-winning, multimillion copy bestselling author Steven Raichlen—the expert who wrote The Barbecue Bible!—BEER-CAN CHICKEN: Foolproof Recipes for the Crispiest, Crackliest, Smokiest, Most Succulent Birds You’ve Ever Tasted (Workman Publishing; April 23, 2024; $24.99; paperback) is an updated classic: revised, redesigned, and beautifully photographed for a new generation of grillers. Raichlen, who brought beer can cooking into the American mainstream 20 years ago, offers 50 recipes for inventive variations on this ultimate chicken grilling technique, plus brilliant recipes for birds off the can, perfect sides, and even desserts!

Q&A with Steven Raichlen

Hi, Steven! Congratulations on the re-release of one of your most popular books. Why a new beer-can chicken book….and why now?

The original book, Beer-Can Chicken, came out more than 20 years ago. At the time, this chicken preparation was an anomaly, a novelty in barbecue circles. I first encountered the dish in 1996 at a barbecue competition, the esteemed Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. I wrote about it for the New York Times, demoed it on Good Morning America, and taught it to countless students in cooking classes like Barbecue University™. I didn’t invent it—I learned the technique from the Bryce Boar Blazers—but am confident I helped popularize beer-can chicken, which is now prepared in backyards all over the country. Make that world. As to the second part of your question—why now?—I thought it was time to introduce a new generation of grillers to this joyful, whimsical way to cook chicken. Also, the Instagram generation expects colorful graphics, and will appreciate the addition to the redesigned manuscript with inspiring and illustrative color photos!

What makes beer-can chicken special?

I don’t think I’m overstating it: beer-can chicken is irresistible. It’s theater. Grilling a whole chicken upright—even in an…ahem…indecorous position—allows the bird to cook evenly on the front and back. The fat drains off, leaving the skin crackling crisp and the meat incredibly moist. Hopefully, the chicken will be cooked with wood smoke. (Though you can absolutely cook a beer-can chicken in your oven.) It’s an opportunity for hilarity, for a bit of culinary fun. And a pox on the haters.

Beer-Can Chicken Revised

Honestly, can you taste the beer?

During the development of the book, I experimented with many birds, liquids, and seasonings. Yes, I’ve used everything from beer to wine to soda to fruit juices. If it’s discernible at all, the flavors from the liquids will be subtle. (My stable beer-can chicken roaster makes it easier to interchange liquids.) I heartily recommend drinking a beer or two while the bird cooks. Then you’ll have a hoppy, malty start on things.

What else is in the book?

Beer-can chicken is just the start! See many international variations. You’ll also find many offbeat recipes, including directions for turkey, quail, and other birds, amazing barbecue rubs and sauces, “stoned” chickens, “caviar” on the coals, pepper soup on the grill, hash on the half shell, and many more enticing recipes, including some for desserts.

Beer-Can Chicken Revised

Here’s a question we often get: Is beer can chicken safe to eat, or is there migration between the can (or graphics on the can)?

Yes, beer-can chicken is 100 percent safe. The cans are decorated with edible ink; I had this tested in a lab. Again, if you have any concerns, use my stainless steel chicken roaster.

What’s next for Steven Raichlen?

I have been working on a new book devoted to grilling on flat-top griddles and planchas. Smash burgers are just the beginning! Look for its release in May, 2025.

Beer-Can Chicken Revised

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