Rotisserie Chicken 101

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 »

Steak Grilling 101

I don’t know if you’re like me, but it seems whenever I leave the comforting confines of my kitchen, with its dependable six-burner Viking stove and terribly erratic Dacor oven (which I’ve come to learn to anticipate its mood, much like a human barometer), and venture out into the backyard, I’m suddenly struck dumb. It’s like being in the hinterlands, and I have to be MacGyver, using a pair of pantyhose, wooden sticks, and an ignition switch from a dilapidated 1967 Thunderbird convertible to light the grill.

That’s why this year I decided to buy a Weber Summit S-670. Now, this beauty, which is the size of a Smart Car, has every bell and whistle a grillicionado could want: six burners, a sear station, smoker, rotisserie, and even a side burner, which I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to make on it. Read more »

Bellying Up to Barcelona

As the The One and I touched down in Barcelona after that inhumane flight on Lufthansa, the worst airline I’ve ever flown, we were indeed ready to shrug off the cramped seats, terse personnel, and wailing infants and dig in to the dining scene. I had a list of restaurants given to me by everyone from Amanda Hesser to Anya von Bremzen to a friend of Mark Bittman. I wasn’t messing around.

But you know how they say that if you want to make God laugh, make plans? Well, if you want to see him roll on the floor in fits of hysteria, make travel arrangements with me.

Within a 48-hour period in Barcelona, a colossal demonstration for Catalonian independence, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1984, coincided with Spain’s magisterial win of the World Cup, clogging every restaurant and tapas joint with enough people and smoke to cause a panic attack. Then, thanks to lingering tourists who decided to extend their stay in Barcelona, restaurants suddenly had capricious schedules, opening when they were supposed to be closed, closing when they were supposed to be opened. Read more »

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