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4 hours with a chicken in Austin

David Nunez
David Nunez
6 min read

This is a last-minute entry (warning: lots of pictures) for Austin Blog Day, via

The topic was “What would you do with 4 spare hours in Austin.”

If I had four spare hours in Austin, I would fill a cooler with slushy ice and cold, crisp Rolling Rocks, sit around a table in the backyard, smell the sweet Hickory smoke of the Beer Can Chicken Grilling on the BBQ, listen to Wille sing the blues, and take in the Good Life with a good friend/ex-college roommate that gets it. See, “you gotta look around, and if you’re happy, well, then that’s the Good Life.”

(Vegans and the PETA people along with kids and the easily-offended-at-innuendo might want to skip this story altogether, eh?)Steps to making a Beer Can Chicken with your college buddy.

Step 0: Have your college buddy over for a weekend of reminiscence and good times.

Step 1: Go to the grocery store / Super Wal-Mart to stock up on enormous amounts of the unnatural combination of junk food (as appetizers) and fresh vegetables (which go well on the grill… peppers, onions, etc). Make smart-ass comments about various products you see in the store and toss around light-hearted, male-bonding insults. Perhaps cause a scene or two. Repeatedly comment, at the store and throughout the rest of the day, on how inexpensive it is to buy an entire chicken (a couple of bucks and some change!!)

Step 2: Bring home chicken and various other ingredients… divvy out the responsibilities and chores. The Good Life is not a solo effort. For example, your friend could be responsible for cutting up the vegetables.
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Step 3: A word to the wise, it’s best not to ask questions about labels on the chicken’s plastic wrapper. Take the plastic off and clean the chicken inside and out… chop off its neck and take out all the innards, which may be, incidentally, “disproportionately distributed.” (I told you not to ask questions… a good example of a question not to ask is, “do they just collect the gizzards and guts of these millions of chickens in a big bucket somewhere to sluse out into the chicken cavities, perhaps with a cone shaped machine that makes a slurping noise as it fills each bird with a disproportionate assortment of chicken innards?”) By the way, now’s a good time to get comfortable with the idea of putting your fist into a bird in unnatural ways. Go ahead and make the childish innuendos… get it out of your system, ‘cuz it ain’t gonna get any more decent for a while…


Step 4: Caress chicken with mixture of brown sugar, salt, pepper, and paprika. As you massage the bird, try not to let the inappropriate comments from your “friend” affect your work. Note how the chicken skin resembles scenes from ER when the surgeons spread iodine/disinfectant on the body where they are about to cut. Make sure you get the rub into the chicken orifices (and try, for your own sanity, not to use the word “orifice” for the remainder of the day… you’ll see why in Step 6). The chicken should now be completely covered in red goo… don’t forget the hidden nooks and crannies underneath the wingpit.


Step 5: Open the beer can and “empty” half of it as quickly as possible. Put a couple of tablespoons of the rub mixture into the can. It is normal if it fizzes a little. (In our case, the beer frothed out of the can like an elementary school science fair, Volcano Model. I screamed, beer/chicken-rub was everywhere, and Mike simply laughed his ass off.)

Step 6: Apply the beer can to the chicken. It is difficult. It’s a physically demanding activity, but it also takes a toll on the psyche. Do not look your friend in the eye while doing this. It’s best, actually, that nobody says a word, and that everybody pretends it’s not happening. The reality of the situation will hit you like a ton of bricks, and you won’t feel the urge to joke. A tip: you’re going to have to wiggle the drumsticks around to get this to work. Finally, do not whistle, sing, say curse words, call the chicken by its first name, or giggle like an imp while you are doing this unless you want to seriously damage your friendship and generally creep everyone out. (and yes, I realize I am smiling like a maniac in these pictures… I think I was scared out of my mind, and that’s how my fear manifested itself.)

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Step 7: Tuck the birds wings up and out of the way. Do the same with your friend.


Step 8: Light the grill and toss in some beer-soaked wood chips. (For a gas grill, you have to either use a proper smoker box, or create a little foil packet of chips, breakfast-taco-style… put this directly on top of one of the gas flames)

Step 9: When the chips are smoking, and the grill is at proper temperature, transfer… CAREFULLY… the chicken. Make sure your friend is not helping, but is standing by to take action shots of the bird tipping over onto the ground.


Step 10: For the next 1.5-2 hours, sit back, enjoy cold beverages, and savor the delicious aroma of chicken being roasted and smoked in an upright position, being basted continuously by the steaming beer… imagine its tasty, tasty skin becoming crispy while the meat remains extra juicy.

Step 11: Open the grill and witness the golden brown bird, in all of its glory atop its metal throne, majestically transformed from feeble fowl to poultry perfection. Wonder at the industriousness of human beings; our species has harnessed the raw power of BBQ, fire, and beer to create an otherworldly almost dreamlike feast fit for the gods. Puff up your chest as a tear of joy trickles down your cheek as you realize that even a poet could not divine the words to describe the utter and complete happiness you’re experiencing. This is the Good Life incarnate.


Step 12: Carefully transfer bird to tray to carve into scrumptious morsels (and revel in the fact the meat falls off the bone.)

Step 13: Take revenge by relentlessly snapping photos of your friend desperately trying to keep the french fries from slipping through the grill grate.


Step 14: Go back to Step 0 at least once a year.

Total Time: 4 Hours

Images where put through the Meloncolytron Filter by Flaming Pear to try to get a “nostalgic” look.


David Nunez Twitter

Dir of Technology at the MIT Museum • Writing about emerging tech's impact on your life • Speculative insights on the intersection of humanity and technology 🤖


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