In chapter two of the continuing saga of my backyard grilling session with Jamie Purviance, I learned the tricks and subtleties of making a rotisserie chicken. The reason I insisted Jamie divulge all of his poultry pointers is that The One and I have been devouring rotisserie chickens (AKA RoChix) from Citarella in New York, two blocks from our apartment, for years. They’re so tender and packed with flavor, we knew we had to figure out how to cook them—even better.
After tucking into RoChix from other places for comparison, one major difference surfaced: Citarella brines their birds. So that’s what we wrassled with first. We tried all kinds of combinations of herbs and spices, as well as varying salt amounts, until we finally hit upon what comes closest to (and some of our NYC guests swear is even better than) Citarella’s: lots and lots of thyme, a handful of garlic cloves, a bit of rosemary, a pittance of whole black peppercorns, salt, and sugar. (Interestingly, Jamie commented that adding sugar is unusual for chicken brining, but we found that it helps give the bird an incredibly crispy golden-brown skin.)
After we seared the brine recipe into our brains, we began knocking these suckers out of the oven left and right. But we realized a lot of chicken-y goodness was being left in the pan. (We took a page from Ina Garten’s book—literally—and tossed homemake croutons with the pan drippings to great affect and copious rounds of applause.) But still that didn’t solve our dilemma: The more fat and juices that dripped off the chicken into the pan, the less juicy and flavorful the bird. Plain old physics, right? Read more »