I spent the past two days figuring out how to cook a beer can chicken on the Weber Jumbo Joe. I had to think and tinker a little bit to make this work but the end technique is pretty easy.
A few posts ago I wrote about how to roast a whole chicken on a Weber Jumbo Joe. When I was working on that I noticed that the clearance between the breast on a five pound bird and the kettle dome was about one and a half inches. There obviously wasn’t enough space to rotate the chicken into a vertical position and close the dome. I made the assumption that beer can chicken was something that you just couldn’t do with this grill.
It finally dawned on me a few days later that I didn’t need to use the grill grate. If you remove the grill grate and cook on the charcoal grate you have an extra 3.5 inches of vertical clearance to work with. This gives us plenty of room to cook a beer can chicken on the Weber Jumbo Joe.
Now that we have the room I needed to figure out the fuel. Since I was cooking on the charcoal grate I wanted to keep the coals organized. On a lark I took a charcoal basket from my 22.5 kettle and stuck it in the Jumbo. It fits perfect!! So here is what I came up with on my first attempt. I filled a charcoal basket with unlit Kingsford and placed the beer can chicken in a foil pan on the charcoal grate. I had the back of the bird facing the fire.
I then added ten lit coals and threw on some pecan chips.
I closed the lid, dampers at half and located over the bird and came back in an hour. It was pretty obvious that this technique was resulting in very uneven cooking. The back of the bird looked great but the breast side looked like it was barely cooking.
I rotated the pan so that the breast was facing the charcoal. This was a GIANT pain in the neck. The pan was hot, I didn’t have much room to work with and the bird kept trying to fall over. I let the bird cook another hour and fifteen minutes until I got an internal thigh temperature of 170F.
This technique works but having to rotate the bird is a deal killer for me. I wanted to find a better way. My second take was to place the beer can chicken in the middle of the charcoal grate and surround the foil pan with a fully lit chimney of coals.
I got things set up, closed the lid with vents fully open and came back in an hour. I checked on the bird and was surprised at how little it had cooked. The skin had just barely started to brown and the breast was reading 125F. I scratched my head and figured out that most of my coals had extinguished despite the vents being open. Apparently the foil pan in the middle surrounded by a full chimney of coals created too much restriction for proper air flow. If the air can’t flow the fuel can’t burn. I used some metal tongs and made four piles of coal, one on each side of the pan, leaving plenty of space between them for air flow. I distributed the few live coals I had left between the charcoal piles and gave them a few minutes to get real hot and light the surrounding pile.
Once the coals were going again I closed the lid and came back in an hour to find a perfectly roasted beer can chicken!
Here is my condensed method that I will use for my next beer can chicken on the Weber Jumbo Joe:
- Place the chicken in a foil pan in the middle of the charcoal grate.
- Pour a lit chimney of charcoal in piles around the foil pan.
- Use a pair of long handled metal tongs to evenly distribute the charcoal into four piles around the foil pan. Leave lots of room between the charcoal piles.
- Open the top and bottom vents completely.
- Close the lid, walk away.
- Come back in 90 minutes and check the internal temperature of the bird in the thigh.
- Enjoy an awesome beer can chicken made on the Weber Jumbo Joe!
The Jumbo is a great little cooker. Here is my full review.