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Honor Freedom With a Beer Can, Chicken

Honor Freedom With a Beer Can, Chicken

Beer Can, Chicken (photo by Creative Commons user cookipediachef)

John Kass | Chicago Tribune

NOTHING QUITE SAYS 4TH OF JULY – and American independence from unreasonable taxation and those intrusive federal regulations – like a chicken with a beer can stuck up its behind, roasting silently over wood charcoal.


Cynics may call it a political metaphor. But I call it Kass’ Beer Can Chicken.

There is no greater honor for a chef than to have his creation highlighted by the Tribune’s Good Eating section. What’s even more of an honor – if possible – is that the Tribune’s savvy wine critic, Bill Daley, took the time to match fine wines with my humble bird in his own Wednesday column.

(But I may have insulted him by suggesting that beer and Dr Pepper are the best beverages for barbecue. Sorry, Bill.)

And those of you with a computer can watch an easy how-to-insert-can-and-cook video crafted by Tribune video master John Owens, in which you’ll see how it’s done. Just go to

Actually, I adapted Kass’ Beer Can Chicken from a technique prized by American Southern rustics, who cook chicken on a beer can with plenty of heavy wood smoke, like hickory or apple wood. But that leaves the chicken looking and tasting like an old shoe.

Chicken is too delicate for smoking. So I removed the wood chunks and added lemon, oregano, salt and pepper and various secret Mediterranean spices, like Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, which is made in Arkansas.

Not a week goes by that some anxious reader doesn’t call or write in abject barbecue panic: “Please! Help! We’ve moved, and somehow, I lost your Beer Can Chicken recipe! Would you please send me a copy?”

If it’s not an anguished cry for my recipe, it’s a tip from outraged readers telling me that Williams-Sonoma or some other fancy-pants outfit is selling yet another ridiculously overpriced beer can chicken gadget, from which I receive not one thin dime.