Is a turbo-broiler a uniquely Filipino appliance? Have I stumbled on a piece of culinary trivia that has not made itself obvious to Marketman before? If you are to believe the website of Imarflex, they invented the turbo-broiler in the Philippines in the mid to late 1970â€™s. My mother pined for one in the 1980â€™s and I think it was the late-80â€™s before she ever finagled one out of my dad. What was the big deal, anyway? Was it the compact heating element above the glass bowl that allowed you to see in while this naked chicken was then blast roasted to a nice golden brown? Was it the fact that chicken grease was so visibly extracted from the bird and dripped to the glass bottom of the contraption, making this seem such a health-conscious alternative? Wasnâ€™t this just a smaller oven with heat and the addition of a fan that coursed the heat around the space to cook the meat in a shorter time while forcing it to extrude fat?
Why had Filipino housewives become so enamored of this new appliance that took up so much room in the cabinetsâ€¦that so many chose to display it on precious counter space alongside their little used blender, nuclear microwave and the toaster? The little I could gather from my 3-minute internet search is that you apparently know you are Filipino IF and only IF you own a turbo-broiler. Hmmmâ€¦ I never owned a turbo broiler when I lived abroad and I survived. But since moving home, we have always had one in the kitchen lest the cook(s) think our home was ill-equipped (forget the 15,000 British Thermal Unit Viking stove/ovens). Are turbo broilers popular because most homes donâ€™t have ovens? Not only has the appliance become omnipresent in Filipino homes, the term to â€œturboâ€ has become a verb as well. Cook: How shall I cook the chicken tonight? Boss: â€œe-turbo mo nalang…â€ (translated: just turbo it!).
At any rate, on special request from a frequent reader, I decided to whip out the turbo broiler and â€œturboâ€ a chicken. Usually, I would brush the chicken with a marinade of soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper and stuff the cavity with tanglad (lemongrass). But instead I decided to see if my usual lemon and thyme chicken that I normally bake in the oven would taste good if â€œturbo-ed.â€ I put a whole lemon in the cavity of the bird along with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. I also rubbed fresh thyme on the skin and added salt and pepper. I put it in the turbo and after 15 minutes, basted the chicken with melted butter then cooked it for another 30 minutes or so. The result? Very good. Nice crispy skin, relatively moist and tasty meat. And did I throw out all of that fat that accumulated on the bottom of the glass bowl to avoid cholesterol? No wayâ€¦ added a little white wine, chicken stock, cornstarch and butter and voila, a clear delicious jus to go with the chicken! What do you guys put on your chicken when you â€œturboâ€ it?