Shoving a beer can up a chicken’s rear end is a summertime rite of passage for serious grillers. This recipe adapts the hops-roasting technique with something a little wilder—a ringneck rooster. Since most beer cans are too wide for the small cavity of a pheasant, you’ll need a can with a slimmer profile. Energy-drink cans, such as Red Bull, fit perfectly. Rinse the can inside and out, then refill it with a cream stout, which adds a mellow aroma via the steamed flavor infusion and tempers the kick of the spicy rub.
1 whole pheasant, plucked
1 gallon water
1 cup salt
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 slim aluminum can, top removed
1 cream stout
For the rub
3 Tbsp. paprika
11⁄2 Tbsp. kosher salt
11⁄2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. mustard powder
1. Brine the pheasant: Dissolve the salt in the gallon of warm water, then let cool. Add the pheasant and brine it overnight in the refrigerator. (You may need to weigh the bird down with a plate to keep it fully submerged.)
2. Drain the brine, and pat the pheasant dry with paper towels. Carefully pull away the skin from the breast and thighs, and spread the butter between the skin and the meat. Combine all rub ingredients and use it to cover the outside of the pheasant.
3. Start the charcoals and set up the grill for a two-zone fire: high heat on one half, and low heat on the other. Fill the aluminum can with beer and slide the pheasant over the top of the can. Place the pheasant on the low-heat side of the grill. You may need to reposition the legs to work as a tripod along with the can to steady the bird.
4. Close the grill and roast until an instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155 degrees.
5. Transfer the bird to a cutting board and carefully remove the can. Let the pheasant rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serves 2
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Photograph by Christopher Testani. Food styled by Roscoe Betsill