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“Beer Can Pheasant”: Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy tackled “Beer Can Pheasant,” with a couple surprising tips, in “Braising the Wild” this week.

“Beer Can Pheasant” in Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”
Jack Hennessy

Isn’t often, well maybe never, that you see a Red Bull can listed in the ingredients of a recipe.

Well, welcome to “Beer Can Pheasant” from Jack Hennessy in “Braising the Wild” this week.

Here is this week’s recipe

Beer Can Pheasant

Beer-can chicken was a major fad a couple decades or so ago. Kenny Chesney even wrote a song about it, from my understanding. Proponents of this method praised the flavor and juiciness of a bird roasted vertically atop a beer can containing a mix of beer and spices.

However, most professional chefs agree beer inside the cavity of a bird does not add any sort of flavor. They consider the method simply a waste of beer, though they do agree on one thing – a bird roasted vertically over indirect heat will cook evenly and finish with a crispy, delicious skin.

Because most upland game birds are too small for your typical 12-ounce beer can, you may wish to grab a Red Bull can (or any can that size) or pick up a Miller Lite 16-ounce aluminum bottle (seen in picture) since the thinner top works for stuffing. Make sure to thoroughly rinse both inside and out. I also recommend using some kitchen twine to keep bird together atop the can.

For my game birds, I use a grill called a Pyro Tower (made by these couple guys out of eastern Kansas). It allows me to stack wood at the base and thus roast my birds over an indirect wood fire. If you are able to use wood (versus charcoal or propane) for this recipe, I highly recommend it.


1 whole pheasant or game bird

Your favorite spice rub

1 Red Bull or other thin can, thoroughly rinsed

To prepare:

Pull fully defrosted pheasant a couple hours ahead of cooking and rub down with your favorite spice mix. Allow to dry at room temperature.

Place can in cavity of pheasant.

With your grill, create a two-zone heating setup by leaving one half completely void of any heat and the other half containing your charcoal or lit burners.

Place pheasant (stuffed with can) atop a cast iron skillet or a heat-safe tray, anything to shield it slightly from heat below.

When your heat side is ready, place pheasant (with can and atop skillet) on the grill.

Cover grill and rotate pheasant often (every 5 to 10 minutes) for an even roast for approximately 30 minutes to an hour, until internal temperature of breast reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

After removing, cover pheasant with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.