Rotisserie Chicken Showdown

Here is how it goes.  I am going to eat a lot of rotisserie chicken (RC) and write my unprofessional, subjective opinions about them. My ultimate goal here is to find one that I like as much as I like the old Magnani RC. I will rate the food I eat thusly:

10. WOO HOO! This is great food. I could easily become addicted.
9. YUM! Really, really good stuff, but not great. I would write home to mom about it.
8. YUM. I like it.
7. YUM? I think I like it, but not enthused.
6. HMM. It’s okay.
 5. EH. This is not great, but not horrible. This is the kind of food I buy in a pinch, when I don’t have time to make anything and I don’t want to wait around for someone to cook up something good.
4. OW Okay, I am feeling a little betrayed.
3. WHY? Why did I buy this?  (Usually said the second time I buy.)
2. SHEESH. I should have gone to KFC. Regret is setting in.
1. YUK! PTUEY! This is the kind of food that I don’t understand who the hell buys. Somebody must, because they keep selling it. I won’t eat this stuff, and I will eat many, many things. Think Hostess Snowballs.

A Couple of Thoughts on Rotisserie Chicken

  1. Timing is everything when buying a rotisserie chicken. Once the chicken is taken off the spit, it often sits around, under a heat lamp or just below the heating elements that cooked the birds in the first place. So, even if the birds were taken off the spit at the right time, they may have been cookingcookingcooking.
    The other aspect of timing is this: how busy is the truck/resto/counter? If it is quite busy, you are probably getting birds that did not sit around for very long and they are juicy and good. If you are in a store and the chickens are in a plastic container that has a lot of condensation, back away from the heat lamps. 
  2. My rub theory: RC is not roasted chicken. RC spins around and around on a spit: dripping juices pull the rub off the skin, which means that the skin should have A LOT of rub on it. Only this way will the finished product have enough cooked rub left to provide enough flavor to stand up against the flavor of the flesh and the fat.

My Rotisserie Chicken Showdown Ratings

Vendor Venue Rating
 Al’s Market  Grocery store butcher counter 6 (HMM)
 Al’s is a little market down the hill from me. The kind I grew up near. I love these kinds of places. Friendly people, plenty of choice, good prices, pretty checkers. All of which makes me wish that I was rating their chicken higher. But, unfortunately Dave likes what he likes. And while I don’t dislike this chicken, I don’t love it either.  (Sorry Al, wherever you are.) Mostly because they don’t put enough rub in it. I might like their rub, but I can’t tell.  I usually bring a chicken home when I an really hungry and don’t want to cook anything. When I unpack my new meal, I get out a bottle of rub (my own or commercial) or maybe some BBQ sauce (my own or commercial) and douse the bird liberally. The leftovers do make good chicken salad, though.
Country Grill Truck 6 (HMM)
 The Country Grill is the food truck at the Jack London Square Farmer’s Market I told you about. The food is okay.  Nothing to write home to mom about. The herb I could taste most in the rub is rosemary. The chicken itself was pretty flavorful. The weird thing was the potatoes. They tasted like they had been previously frozen. I don’t know if they were or not: they just tasted that way. Kind of spongy. The leftovers make a very tasty chicken hash.

24 August 2014

Lucky’s/Safeway Supermarket heat lamp 1 (YUK PTUEY!)
 Who buys this crap?  It is under-seasoned, never cooked right. I have never bought one that wasn’t dry and boring.  Whoever makes this stuff must be bored as hell, or hate their job. I suppose you could make dog food out of it. 

24 August 2014

 Magnani Poultry (Then) Take out from shop  10 (WOO HOO!)
 This was great food with lots of flavor. I hate to say that they didn’t use great chickens. The used institutional birds that looked like ghost carcasses, white translucent skin through which I could see veins and all. Not very appealing. But they were always juicy and tasty. I think one factor that helped make this food great was the amount of rub put onto the raw birds: lots and lots. They didn’t sprinkle the rub on, they poured it over every part of the birds until the birds were completely, thickly coated with rub. Ah, joy.I have tried for a very long time to duplicate the flavors in the rub, without success. until I tried a new Kettle Chip, Death Valley Chipotle, which they withdrew from the market. In the short time they were on the market, I became addicted. So I was very sad when they were withdrawn. Anyway, I am working, on and off, on a rub recipe that is based on the ingredients: (salt, spices, (oregano, celery seed, cumin), yeast extract, chili pepper (chipotle pepper), cayenne pepper, molasses powder, habanero pepper, jalapeno pepper). Minus the yeast extract. I will let you know how it goes. 

24 August 2014

Magnani Poultry (Now) Take out from shop  
Mistura Sitdown Restaurant 10. WOO HOO!
 This is my new favorite RC! They also use Mary’s chickens, but they marinate them for a day in really good beer and then PACK the birds with amazing, joyous flavor powder before sticking them on the rotisserie. My half bird was moist and juicy, which probably means they have quite a turnover of yum.

They have a small, easy-to-miss place on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, well lit and with music that is just loud enough. I had dinner there with a good friend and about three quarters way through the meal I realized that I could hear everything he was saying. I’m hard of hearing and so that is a VERY big deal. Oh, and when you are there, try the Yucca fries!

10 December 2015

Roli Roti Truck 9 (YUM!)
 Roli Roti is my currently favorite RC. They use Mary’s chickens, which are very tasty, and small yukon gold potatoes that have been sitting under drippy, flavorful chickens and pork knuckles (which is another AWESOME food product that deserves its own write up.). I used to buy a half a bird and small potatoes every Saturday at the Lake Merritt Framer’s Market, but I have had to cut back on my addictionThe rub is really tasty, but, again, I wish there was more of. The herb I taste the most (I think) is sage.  But, once again, there isn’t enough of the rub to suit my taste, which is the only reason it gets a 9 and not a 10.The leftovers make a very tasty chicken hash.

24 August 2014

Rustica  Take Out  9 (YUM!)
 Last week my friend Mark brought over dinner and a movie. The movie was Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. The dinner was RC from Cafe Rustica. And let me tell you, these guys make some great vittles! Juicy, tender, very flavorful. Really, really great stuff. I had the Tuscan Chicken (Rosemary, garlic, sherry and balsamico), and I am not sure exactly how they do it (no rub for these guys), but I think they marinate, personally. I could taste every ingredient and they all complimented the chicken veryvery nicely. And Rustica gives you more than potatoes for sides, a choice of two of these items: roasted beet salad, baby spinach salad with feta, roasted seasonal vegetables, BBQ baked beans and garlic mashed potatoes. I had the veggies and potatoes. The veggies were zucchini and seemed sautéed and not roasted and were great, but the potatoes were excellent. Mark had the salad and beets, which I sis not try. I was too engrossed in my own meal. Next time I want to dine in.

7 September 2014





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