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Beer-can chicken without the beer can

A vertical poultry roaster lets you make beer-can chicken without the beer can.

Michelle Thatcher Former Senior Associate Editor, Laptops
Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Michelle Thatcher
Poultry roaster

Maybe it's because I grew up in Texas, but I always thought the beauty of beer-can chicken was that it used materials you had on hand: a can of whatever beer you're drinking, a rimmed baking sheet or foil cake pan, and a grill. So it was with some amusement I read about this $25 stainless beer-can chicken rack on Kitchen Contraptions.

Turns out, there are plenty of other vertical roasting pans out there, from the simple $15 Cameron Cookware Chicken Beer Roaster to the deluxe Williams-Sonoma Stainless Steel Vertical Chicken Roaster ($30, pictured). Weber makes a $35 nonstick version for use on the grill, and one of my colleagues owns the Chicken Up, which has spikes on the corners of the pan for cooking your sides (corn, bell peppers, etc.) along with the chicken.

According to the user reviews, these vertical roasters are more stable than the traditional beer can, and they have the added advantage of letting you experiment with liquids other than beer. In fact, the more I read about them, the more I kind of want one. But I hesitate to buy and store yet another piece of cooking equipment. What do you think: Are these vertical roasters a handy tool or a waste of space?