Barbecue-roasted chicken

Roast Chicken (No, Really)

If you get yourself a good barbecue, you can cook a lot more than burgers. In fact, you can even roast a chicken. Ya see, normally with a barbecue, you have your coals directly under where you cook. With an open barbecue, this is pretty much your only option – the heat comes from below, and you turn the food.

If you buy a good closable barbecue, you can cook indirectly – i.e., your food isn’t in direct contact with the searing heat from the coals. The way to do this (summarised here) is to get the coals ready (the normal light -> wait half an hour thing) then move them to either side of the barbecue, leaving a gap in the middle. Put a tray in the middle to catch the drips, then put whatever you’re cooking on top, and leave the lid on. The barbecue then works like a conventional oven (mine was up to 230c), which is great for roasting meat.

Anyway, on with the show.


  • One good barbecue, prepared as above
  • A medium free-range chicken
  • Either
    • A can of lager (go with me on this), or
    • Half a lemon, cut into wedges, A few cloves of garlic, and a bunch of thyme
  • 1tsp salt, 1/2tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1tbsp non-virgin olive oil


See the “can of lager” thing above? Ah, well that’s for beer can chicken . The idea is that you pour away half the can, cut the can to about half height, stuff it into the (upright) chicken, and then just put the

Barbecue-roasted chicken
Yum. Note the position of the charcoal, and the tray underneath

chicken on the grill. This gives a lovely moist, malty-tasting chicken (it doesn’t taste of beer). However, it didn’t fit in the grill for me. Oh well. An alternative is to season the bird using oil, salt and pepper, then pour the beer into the tray underneath – it evaporates and flavours the chicken. Trust me, it’s really nice.

For the example in the picture, though, I used the second method. Quite simply, put the sliced lemon into the cavity of the bird, with the thyme and the garlic (crush the cloves lightly, but don’t peel or chop them). Rub the oil over the outside, then sprinkle the salt and pepper over.

You’re ready to cook. Put the chicken above the drip-tray on the barbecue, put the lid on (vents open), and leave it to do its thing. This took about 1 1/2 hours for me with a chicken just over 1kg. But always check if your chicken is cooked – the juices should run clear if you stick a skewer in the thickest part (between thigh and breast).

Before you eat, rest your meat! Put it on a warm plate, cover with foil and leave for 20 minutes or so. This makes it juicier. Enjoy.

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