Chicken roasted in beer

Chicken is a national bird in Africa. Where there are people, you will find chickens. Here is an outstanding combination of flavours, all centred upon a slightly boozy version of Sunday lunch.

Chicken roasted in beer
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To make a chicken roasted in beer plus twice-cooked vegetables for four diners, you will need:

  • 1 chicken, minimum weight 2kg
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bottle Windhoek lager (340ml)
  • 500g baby potatoes
  • 500g pickling onions
  • 500g butternut
  • 45ml canola oil
  • 45ml melted butter
  • 5 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Why “twice-cooked vegetables” I hear you ask? Simple. The first cooking involves half the vegetables under the roasted fowl, while the second consists of the other half roasted alone at relatively high heat. The big deal for the diners is the contrast in texture and flavour. Believe me, this matters.

The chicken you choose for this meal should not be one of those post-dinosaur, multicoloured giants patrolling the roadside, intimidating free-range dogs and migrant goats. Get the freshest broiler fowl you can find.

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Coarsely chop the garlic head into fragments, with peel. Stuff it into the body cavity of the fowl and do this amazing thing without fear. Contrary to all expectations, this garlic will just be an accent to the flavour.

Next, remove the zest of the lemon. Bursting with aromatics, the zest truly revs up the flavour overall.

Halve or quarter the unpeeled baby potatoes, peel and halve the pickling onions, and then peel, deseed and cube the butternut. Pour these into a bowl, add a teaspoon of zest plus a tablespoon of chopped fresh sage, splash with the canola oil, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute the flavoursome oily coating.

Heat the oven to 180°C.

Arrange a layer of the lightly oiled vegetables in a roasting pan. Pour in the room temperature Windhoek lager and settle the chicken on top. Rub the molten butter over the exposed skin. Roast for about 60 minutes, basting the fowl with the pan juices from time to time.

Rev up the temperature to 200°C. Arrange the remaining uncooked vegetables on a separate roasting sheet low in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken skin is crisp and the once-turned roasted vegetables are slightly charred. This augments the flavour and unlike burning, is not a mistake.

Remove from the oven and set the chicken aside for about 10 minutes to evenly redistribute the inner juices. Carve and serve with a mix of under-chicken and separately roasted mixed vegetables.

What a blast! A couple of ultra- chilled, non-room temperature Windhoek lagers will complete this ecstatic dining experience.

David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer.

Digital editor for South Africa's oldest and most read farming magazine.