There is NOTHING quite like a perfectly rotisseried chicken cooked over the flames. Something about the way it’s so evenly cooked on all sides as the rotisseries turns, and that deep, rich caramelized look of the protein on the spit is as enthralling as it is delicious.
In the world of modern grilling, it doesn’t matter whether you’re running a traditional charcoal pit, a pellet grill or a top-of-the-line gas unit, there’s a rotisserie that will fit your setup and let you grill with the best of them. So let’s dive into using a rotisserie and some tips to get you off to a running start this summer.
To TRUSS, or not to TRUSS?
We are firmly in the trussing camp. Tying your meat with butcher twine is a great way to help things cook uniformly and get a perfect result every time. Even with a chicken, where all you need to do is run some twine around the body so the wings are held against the upper abdomen and then legs are held towards the opening of the abdominal cavity, you really shouldn’t skip this step. Even with a forgiving cut like beef tenderloin, even cooking and doneness are pivotal for an ideal cook.
Trussing also helps your rotisserie motor by not allowing large swings of weigh as drumsticks and wings 'flop' every time the spit rotates. A big swing in weight can really wreak havoc on a rotisserie motor over time.
*PRO TIP* Using the rotisserie forks to 'tangle' the chicken legs in removes the need for twine. For extra support on the wings, these short kabab skewers from Napoleon are a great tool!
Over the coals (or not)
Your best friend with rotisserie cooking is INDIRECT HEAT. Sounds complicated, but just means that the source of your heat should be kept away from direct contact (or being placed directly underneath) what you’re cooking. For charcoal grills, this means you’ll arrange your coals off to one side of the grill, away from the protein. On a gas grill, this can typically be achieved by turning off the grills that are directly below what you’re roasting, while leaving the side burners on. Pellet grills and offset smokers give you a leg up on this front, as their cooking chamber and firebox are already in an indirect orientation. But indirect heat is easy to achieve no matter what you’re running.
Some of our gas grills even have an infrared burner at the rear of the grill to provide the best indirect heat on the market! You won't even have to turn on any of your burners!
The right temperature
We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again: temperature does NOT lie!!
Especially with more delicate proteins like chicken, the line between perfectly juicy and painfully dry is far too small to take chances. Rotisseries do a lot of the legwork when it comes to ensuring an even cook, but take all the guesswork out of when your food is ready and check your internal temperatures throughout your cook. Moreover, we always hear that the safe temp for most meat is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is mostly true, from a practical sense, it’s a bit more nuanced than that.
Right off the bat, you can generally pull your chicken from heat as it hits about 160 degrees, as it will carry through to the perfect temp upon resting. Additionally, 165 is the rule of thumb because it takes 0 seconds at this temp to effectively pasteurize chicken to the point that it is nearly guaranteed safe to eat every time. As you can see from this table from Serious Eats. there’s a bit more to it than simply hitting that temperature and calling it a day.
We’ve had some incredible chicken pulled from the grill from 155-160 and letting it rest for 15-20mins. You will get juicier, more tender chicken every time by simply keeping an eye on internal temp and pulling it at the right time, strategically.
Take it for a spin
The best part about using a rotisserie is that it keeps things moving for you without any manual effort. The rotation of the unit gives you an unparalleled evenness in your overall cook. Even when cooking somewhat indirectly, as those small bits of fat drip off the meat onto grill grates, burners, or even pieces of charcoal, they vaporize into little clouds of flavour that enhance the smells and tastes you experience in the finished product.
With these tips in your back pocket, you’re sure to make even your first rotisserie cookout a success. We’ve got a range of options in stock for every grill type. Shop them online and in-store!