Beer-can chicken became popular in the 1990s. A recipe that appeals to beer and meat lover's alike, beer-can chicken calls for roasting a whole chicken over a can of beer. Flavouring and providing aroma, the steam from the beer helps to cook the meat. Before this, beer lovers would pour beer over a chicken while roasting it. This technique proved ineffective, however, as the beer would roll off the chicken into the flame or dripping pan, unable to retain the flavour. Coke-can chicken applies the same concept, roasting a chicken over a can of soda, providing a non-alcoholic version of this recipe.
Open the can of beer or Coke and drink or discard the liquid until the can is half full. Carefully cut the top off of the can and discard it, leaving the top open and exposed. Be mindful of the can's sharp edges as you cut.
Remove the insides and clean the chicken, leaving the inner cavity hollow. Season the inside of the chicken and dry rub the outside of the chicken with the seasonings of your choice.
Plug the neck of the chicken with a chunk of peeled onion and half of a lemon, squeezed. This will help retain the steam and add further flavouring to the meat.
Add a few slices of onion and a couple of peeled cloves of garlic to the half-can of beer or soda. Place the can into a shallow roasting pan or off to one side of a gas or charcoal grill. Move the charcoals to one side or only light one burner on a gas grill, as the bird will need to cook over indirect heat.
Slowly, lower the bird down over the can, inserting the can into the empty cavity. Use the beer can and the legs as a tripod to hold the bird upright and steady. Make sure the bird is secure, as it can easily topple during cooking.
Insert an instant-read temperature thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken's thigh. The chicken will be done when the internal temperature reaches between 79.4 and 82.2 degrees Celsius.
Roast the chicken upright at 177 degrees Celsius for one hour in the oven. For gas or charcoal grills, cover and roast the chicken upright over a dripping pan with ½ inch of water for approximately one hour. With either roasting method, the chicken will be done when the juices run clear.
Remove the beer or soda can from the chicken. Exercise caution as the liquid in the can will be very hot. Place the chicken on a platter and cover it with aluminium foil. Set it aside for 10 minutes to cool before carving.
Note that only fat can help moisten the meat. Steam and water do not provide the same level of moisture. Consider injecting a butter-based rub under the skin for further flavour and moisture. The chicken has the potential of toppling over while it is cooking. Avoid the chicken falling over by placing two smaller chickens back-to-back, or by purchasing racks designed to hold the can during roasting.
Use caution when working with knives and hot liquids.