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Memphis-style beer-can chicken with potato skins

Recipe for Memphis-style beer-can chicken with potato skins.

By Alice Storey
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs cooking plus resting
  • Serves 4 - 6
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Memphis-style beer-can chicken with potato skins
There's debate over whether the beer here flavours the chicken but its steam sure creates a delicious juicy bird. If you don't have a kettle-style barbecue, a gas barbecue with a lid or an oven will suffice, but you won't get that same smoky flavour.


  • 1.6 kg chicken
  • 1½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 375 ml can of beer
  • 150 gm apple or pecan wood pieces (see note)
  • To serve: smoked paprika and lemon wedges
Spice rub
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, garlic powder and mustard powder
  • ¼ tsp each cayenne pepper and chilli powder
Potato skins
  • 8 small sebago potatoes
  • 30 gm butter, melted
  • 60 gm aged cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 2 tbsp chives, coarsely chopped
  • 125 gm crème fraîche


  • 1
    For spice rub, combine ingredients with 1 tsp fine salt in a bowl.
  • 2
    Heat a coal barbecue for indirect grilling to 140C, then add a couple of small pieces of smoking wood (see note). Rinse chicken under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels, then brush all over with mustard. Season chicken inside and out with spice rub, reserving excess. Tip 100ml of beer from the can, add remaining spice rub to the can, then carefully lower chicken onto the beer can so it sits upright with the can in its cavity. Place on the grill, close the lid and cook, topping up coals and wood as necessary, until chicken is cooked through (1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours; juices should run clear when its thigh is pierced). Set aside to rest for 20 minutes, then remove can.
  • 3
    For potato skins, preheat oven to 200C, prick potatoes with a fork, then place directly on oven rack and roast until very tender (50-55 minutes). When cool enough to handle, halve potatoes, scoop out flesh (reserve for another use) and brush potato skins with butter, season to taste and place on an oven tray.
  • 4
    Preheat grill to high, then grill skins, turning once, until golden (4-5 minutes). Turn cut-side up, season to taste, scatter with cheese and continue grilling until golden and melted (3-4 minutes). Top with chives and serve with crème fraîche scattered with paprika, beer-can chicken and lemon wedges.


Wood pieces for smoking are available from hardware and barbecue stores. Indirect grilling is cooking away from the heat, using the top rack. It's important to have your coal base well established and glowing before adding the wood.