I’m not much of a gadget guy in the kitchen. It’s not that I don’t have many (my overstuffed cabinets are witness to that), but that I rarely find the occasion to use them. I’ve got a sous-vide machine that largely has done nothing but collect dust since I bought it. One of these days I’ll make those eggs everyone is talking about. Honest.
The one big exception to my no-gadget cooking style is the rotisserie attachment for my Weber grill. And it’s a big exception. Because there is little that I love more than a piece of spit-roasted meat.
It’s not a cheap gadget, for sure. In fact, at a list of about $150, it actually costs the same amount as the kettle grill itself. It’s pretty elemental: There’s a metal sleeve that fits over the top of the grill, a motor, a spit and a set of prongs for attaching the meat securely.
The most common thing I use it to cook is chicken, and it’ll do two at a time – a very good thing since they disappear so quickly. But I’ve also done beef loins, lamb racks and trimmed pork butts.
This weekend I was struck once again by the urge – no, the need – for rotisserie chicken. It couldn’t be easier to make: Truss the chicken and attach it to the spit. Start a charcoal fire, add some oak chips and let that bird spin its way to paradise, basting it occasionally with garlic-flavored olive oil.
There are a couple of minor fine points – after you’ve started the fire, you’ll want to arrange the coals in a circle around the outside of the grate, leaving a gap in the middle. And you’ll fill that gap with an old loaf pan or something similar, which will catch the rendered fat, preventing flare-ups.
It takes about the same amount of time to cook a whole chicken on the rotisserie as it does to roast it in the oven – figure 50 to 60 minutes, but you should check after 45 minutes just to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
The skin turns a mahogany shade of brown; the meat stays succulent. If you’ve used the right amount of wood, you’ll taste meat with an overlay of smoke (I find that to be a generous handful, soaked in water).
I served it with a summer salad of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, spiked with basil. A rosé to drink (of course), and a gratin of berries in sour cream for dessert.
And my only regret was that I only cooked one chicken.