Easter is an important day for Christians. It’s the day we believe Jesus rose again from the dead. Yes, we all know that. But somewhere along we’ve lost the true meaning of what Easter actually is and today it’s more of a day chosen to dig into a feast.
Ideally, Christians are required to go on lent for 40 days, from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It’s to indicate the forty days that Jesus fasted in the desert, to prepare for his ministry and how he overcame all the temptations of the devil. And so some give up non-vegetarian meals, junk food, watching TV and movies, smoking, partying, over eating…any worldly thing that you feel you are giving more importance to than Jesus. This is done mainly to help the Christians prepare and understand the meaning of Jesus death and resurrection.
Anyway, after the 40 days of lent and after attending the Easter mass, we go back home to dig into all the yummy dishes that our mothers make :-). It’s actually a really happy day. As a kid, though I never took lent then, I would be so excited about the appam and stew and the biriyani we would get to eat later on in the day, that from church onwards I would be dreaming about it. Now that I’ve got married, dreaming about breakfast and major lunch spread gives me a headache. Because now if we need to eat, I need to cook! 🙂 I can still run home to amma…but then you just can’t do that every year, can you?! I’m sure I can…but still I want to cook so that my son can have fond memories of his mother cooking scrumptious meals for Easter!
So this year, I had decided to make appam and stew for breakfast and was going to grind the appam batter the night before, when my darling husband said he won’t be home for breakfast because he would be going directly to work after the early morning mass (the malayalam mass was at 3am!). My innumerable requests to take the day off went to deaf ears and so I didn’t bother with the appam-stew. And decided to just make mutton biriyani for lunch next day, since anyway he would be coming only for half hour to eat a quick meal. But there again, husband had his own thoughts on that too. He didn’t want biriyani…the staple Easter lunch. Oh yea…..before I forget, after mass he decided he’s not going to work and that he now wants the traditional appam-stew breakfast! Ya rite! 🙂 I said dream on because there’s no magical wand I can now swing to put forth an appam-stew. And so we headed to Mc Donalds.
Coming back…what did he want for lunch now? He wanted Rotisserie Chicken with Roasted vegetables. I’ve made it many times before and I too love it. And though it involves a lot of preparation time, there’s no work at all. It’s a cheat cooking, if I may say so. Not at all tedious. As in you’ll be working on your chicken for about a day before you can finally dig in…but it’s not laborious at all. And so I too was in favor of this option which would let me spend time with my husband and son while the chicken’s roasting in the oven…and ofcourse I’m not slogging and sweating while they have fun! 🙂 And so the unexpected day off for the husband and son, also meant that it was off for me too 🙂
And so here’s my recipe for Rotisserie chicken. I’m going to divide it into steps and don’t get frightened by the length of this recipe or the number of ingredients. They are all that we have at home always, and if you don’t have them it’s widely available at all stores. Again, the procedure is long and takes quite a bit of time for brining, marinating and grilling. But remember, while all that’s happening you are no where in the kitchen. ! 🙂
ROTISSERIE CHICKEN WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES
- 1 kilo whole chicken (with skin-on)
For the Brining
- 1/4 cup table salt (or else 1/2 cup kosher salt)
- 2 quarts water (i.e. 8 cups)
For the Marinade
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper (use freshly ground in mortar and pestle)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter
For the Cavity Filling
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 large lemon halved/quartered
- 1/4 cup butter
For the Vegetables (put which ever vegetable you like and how much ever you want)
- whole baby potatoes or large potatoes that are cubed, and half boiled in salt (peeled or skin-on).
- Onions (peeled) and halved
Step 1 : Cleaning – Clean the Chicken. The inside specially, but DO NOT remove the skin.
Step 2 : Brining – Dissolve 1/4 cup table salt in 8 cups water. Immerse the chicken in the solution and place immediately in the refrigerator. Let it brine for at least an hour but not more than 5 hours. It’s good to brine your chicken, so that the salt gets inside the chicken too.
Then throw away the brine water and wash the chicken once again under running water and pat it dry with paper towels. For extra-crispy skin and if you have the time, return the chicken to the refrigerator and let it air-dry for another 2-3 hours.
Step 3 – Marinating and preparing the chicken – First, you need to prepare the Marinade. Chop up all the herbs, grind the spices, and mix them will with the butter and oil. Tuck the marinade under the chicken’s skin (make sure it doesn’t tear), which will help the spices penetrate better into the chicken. And also nicely spread it inside the cavity and on the outer skin.
Then, stuff the cavity with the lemon and garlic cloves and some butter too. Doing this will perfume the bird as it roasts, infusing the meat with extra flavour.
Step 4 – Trussing the Chicken – Take a butcher’s twine about 3 feet(or get a really thick unbreakable wool) and tie the chicken nice and tight to keep the legs and wings close to the body. This is done to ensure that the chicken breasts don’t dry out and the whole chicken cooks evenly. Also, this ensures nothing falls out from the cavity when the chicken is turning and also for better presentation. You can follow this Video, of a friend of mine to have a better idea on how to truss a chicken. This is the simplest way to do it. 🙂
Step 5 – Rotisserie – Skewer the Chicken onto the Rotisserie metal blade and tighten the screws on either side. How to skewer it on? Well, take the metal skewer, remove one of the forks out. Insert the skewer into the cavity till it comes out from near the neck. Push the fork that’s on the skewer right through the thighs and tighten the screw. Now take the other fork, put it through the skewer from the other side and insert that fork too inside the chicken meat and tighten the screw. What do you get is now a chicken on a skewer that just can’t move up or down, left or right because it’s been held tightly by forks tightened by screws. Now when your turn the blade, the chicken shouldn’t be moving around. (you need to check the Oven manual on how to get your oven rotisserie working).
Put your tray of vegetables that you wanna bake right below the chicken. This lets you collect all the fat that drips off from the chicken into the tray, adds more flavor and taste to the vegetables.
Turn on your oven to 190° C the (rotisserie option – where the heat comes from the top of the oven and the bottom is off) and don’t forget to press the rotisserie button on too. And you’ll see the chicken turning around which will let the chicken cook evenly on all sides.
Let it cook for about 1 hour. The basic rule is 1 hour per kilo of chicken. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh (don’t touch the bone) and once it reaches 75° C, you can take it off.
Once you take the chicken out from the oven, don’t remove the blade because it’s still hot. Just wrap it in aluminium foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes. This will allow the chicken to cook further.
Serve the chicken hot with the roasted vegetables, hommous, pita bread and a slice of lemon. You can drizzle some of the liquid that’s collected in the vegetable baking tray onto the chicken, which will keep it moist.
Notes: Please do read as they are equally important!
- Roasting Option– If you have no rotisserie option on your oven. you can even roast the chicken. Pre-heat the oven to 260° C. Place the chicken after Step 4 – trussing the chicken (optional) on to a baking tray that has been lined with foil or parchment paper (this makes cleaning the tray easier). Then squeeze the juice of 2 lemons into a small bowl and mix with olive oil. Drizzle some of this juice all over the chicken and keep some for basting purpose later on. Roast 15 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Reduce the heat to 230° C, baste the chicken with the pan drippings or the olive oil-lemon juice mix and continue roasting for 15 minutes. Baste the chicken again and then turn the chicken to its other side. Reduce heat to 220° C and continue roasting for 30 minutes till it reaches an internal temperature of 85° C. Take it out. Baste again. Cover with foil and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. Important here is to keep basting so that the chicken doesn’t dry out.
- The best way to tell if a chicken is cooked properly is to use a meat thermometer. If you don’t have it, just poke the thigh and if pink juices run out, there’s still some more cooking left, it means.
- Many remove the skin of the chicken while grilling or rotissering it, saying it contains a great deal of fat. Please don’t. You can just avoid eating it. but leave the skin on as it holds in the moisture and prevents the meat from drying out. Also, if you’re roasting it in a baking tray, it’s only the skin that gets stuck (if it does) to the tray…the flesh is still intact.
- You can add potatoes as is but since the heat comes from the top of the oven and the roasting tray is right at the bottom, they don’t finish cooking when the chicken is done. That would mean you have to take the chicken out and then roast the vegetables for some more time, by when the chicken could get cold. So I therefore put in half boiled potatoes under the chicken to roast. This way all’s done at the same time.
- You can serve the drippings from the chicken (rotisserie option) along with the chicken or else put it in the freezer and use it as chicken stock for some other time. Or even to prepare mashed potatoes.
- My roasted chicken is like how indians love it. Spicy with peppercorns, garam masala and chilli powder. You can play around with the marinade to suit your taste – you can make simple one with just butter, salt and pepper. But I feel the herbs add an extra touch. Or you could make roast chicken with just rosemary, salt n pepper. Or a Thai flair one with ginger, lemongrass, green chillies, cilantro and lime juice. Or leave out all the indian spices (cumin, coriander, chilli powder, turmeric, cinnamon…) from my recipe and you’ll have a different but still delicious tasting chicken.