Rotisserie Chicken and Gravy a la Marketman

I am pretty sure that we eat far more chicken/poultry than pork in the Marketman household, despite the lechon business we are involved in and a personal love for almost all things porcine. Looking around, considering all of the fried chicken meals being consumed in fast food restaurants (which outstrips beef burgers I bet), I would also have guessed that chicken must be the most popular meat of choice. It isn’t. For Filipinos, the annual per capita consumption of pork meat and offal is roughly 20+ kilos per year; for poultry, roughly 9 kilos per annum, and for beef and veal, just 4 kilos per annum, based on various government statistics and other internet sites (it’s not my data). Of course these numbers would change dramatically if you limit the data to the top 10% income earners, who will probably consume 5x or more the national per capita average consumption figures for meat. Not to mention the data probably doesn’t include backyard raised and slaughtered hogs and chickens. But it was still a bit of a surprise that beef was just half of chicken which was just half of pork consumption. Funny how there aren’t any “Pork Joy Meals” or “Cheesepork sandwiches” or the like in popular fast food restaurants…

All that just a lenghty preamble to the fact that Marketman just got a new kitchen toy at work… a small gas rotisserie that can cook 16 chickens all at once. We love pork, but I think many folks love rotisserie chicken as well, so I have been experimenting with roasting chickens over the past few days. We have done many chickens over charcoal, but the rotisserie chickens seem to turn out juicier and more consistent, and frankly, use less energy. Again, as with all of these experiments, I buy many commercially available examples of rotisserie chicken, and weigh them, taste them and look at them inside and out. My initial views are that most of these chickens start out just shy of a kilo in weight, and cooked they are roughly 800 grams, plus or minus 10-15%. I have noticed that they are flavorful through and through, and that often means a long marination in a salty/sugary brine and/or being injected directly with the brine. The brining process adds some weight to the birds and helps to keep them moist and juicy. Many chickens are also basted with a soy/sugary sauce, to help them brown nicely. Most of the chickens I have tried seem heavily laced in MSG, and few seem to be stuffed with “real” ingredients rather than dried or concentrated versions of the same ingredients (onion, garlic powders, etc.). Overall, roasted chickens, whether purchased streetside or from a grocery purveyor are great value, and one chicken could easily feed four people… they are easy, tasty and relatively economical.

So not wanting to have a rotisserie chicken just like everyone else, I reverted to the basics. I started with a larger bird, say 1.4-1.5 kilos dressed weight chickens. I brined this in a solution of salt and a little sugar for 4 hours. Then we stuffed the birds with fresh lemongrass, fresh green onions, chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper and for this version photographed, some ripe tamarind puree. The stuffing was very loose, not jampacked into the cavity. Many rotisserie manufacturers discourage stuffing as they fear they will not cook enough, but if you keep the stuffing light, it should be just fine. We rubbed the outside of the birds with a bit of homemade leaf lard, added salt and pepper inside and out, and put them into the rotisserie. The first novice mistake we made was not to sew up the cavity, so some of the stuffing just spilled out as they rotated in the oven. Another novice mistake was to leave the legs just hanging, and at first, they flopped around like boneless limbs, it looked quite horrifically amusing. Our chefs said not to worry, they would tense up, the fowl equivalent of rigor mortis, but it really would have been best to truss the legs to tidy the whole thing up. Also, it’s best to cook 16 birds at once, as the tightness keeps the birds compact and you make the best use of your gas expense.

We let these chickens cook for about 80 minutes (which was about 10 minutes too much I think) and as they roasted, we basted them with more pure lard. Onto the drip pan of the rotisserie a large pool of chicken and pork fat collected, along with stray pieces of lemongrass and green onion. The aroma the rotisserie was generating was just incredible. Without any sugary tricks on the skin of the bird, it browned unevenly, and just to a light golden color, not the deep dark almost caramel color of typical rotisserie chickens, I noted that this was the same thing for say commercial lechons that are painted with soy to yield that now very common deep dark brown finish. The chickens themselves were delicious, a lot more natural tasting, with no MSG of course, but I could have added a little more salt.

But what’s a roast chicken without some really nice gravy? Not that floury, cornstarchy, pale goop some places refer to as gravy… but a sauce made from the drippings, some broth and a bit of thickener. I took all of the sinfully rich drippings from the rotisserie drip pan, added lots of thick lechon broth and a little some cornstarch dissolved in broth and adjusted the seasoning to make this very light but flavorful sauce or gravy. If it is a bit pale, you may wish to add a teaspoon or two of Kikkoman soy sauce for color and flavor. The loose, fatty, tasty gravy was the clincher for me. The thing that made the chicken just really finger licking good. There was enough gravy so that everyone eating could have as much as half a cup of the stuff if they wanted. :)

I really liked this version of our rotisserie chicken. Again, back to basics, not many tricks (except the brining but that isn’t a shortcut). The crew all liked the chickens and we are just a few tweaks away from our own version for the restaurants… Some folks may find these chickens relatively bland, as a few have mentioned our lechons are bland. But I like them without MSG, and there are lots of other versions out there with tons of MSG, so eat them wherever you like them… :)


40 Responses

  1. MM, that looks good. Reminds of the rotisserie chicken with the same stuffing that I once did on my Weber Grill rotisserie many years ago. I am inspired to do one next Monday evening and pull the rotisserie out of storage shed. Thank you!

  2. We just buy rotisserie chicken from Costco no hassle very juicy and with Juffran banana sauce is perfect.

  3. Yummy MM, will try this on Sunday :)

    btw MM, this is out of topic..what are your views about Cyber libel? being a blogger yourself..would love to hear your view on that

  4. MM – you are killing me!!! Your pictures are so real and I’m about to devour the computer screen. Arrrgh, just when I just had one pandesal for breakfast… So unfair!! :(

    I also like brining when roasting a chicken. This really makes a lot of difference in keeping the chicken moist and flavorful.

  5. Jeez, that looks good, makes me want some chicken! If you put cut up potatoes in a pan underneath the rotating chickens, it will catch the drippings while cooking and you have chicken , potatoes and gravy…soooooooooo yummy! I make mine with rosemary, thyme,EVOO, the usual suspects, and lots and lots of butter under the skin. Will have to try this your way, I have only brined turkey’s in the past. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  6. Another clincher is that the chicken in the Phil. is fresh from the farm/slaughter house..It makes a lot of difference in taste.

    @Ariel–same here–COSTCO roasted chicken for a fast meal..we tweak it a bit as we re-warm it in the oven.. served with Normandy Style flash frozen vegetables, also from COSTCO. Delicious!

  7. I have tasted Chicken Joy – not very impressed.
    Here, just reading your writing and looking at the pictures, I will not hesitate to call this
    chicken nirvana* and hope to taste this soon, after the Zubuchon pork, of course.

    *sometimes inaccurately used as a synonym for heaven or paradise.
    The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
    Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

  8. those in the photo look so inviting — i can almost smell them, MM! i love your rotisserie also.

  9. Our household is probably part of the majority where pork is the main protein used for dishes. The tinola and adobo that I grew up with used pork and not chicken. Then there’s pork sinigang, pork afritada, inihaw and pritong liempo, porkchop, pancit with pork bits, ampalaya with pork, pork bbq, etc etc.
    On the flip side, the fastfood and take out places around my workplace are chicken places. Jollibee (chickenjoy), Mang Inasal, Chicken Bacolod, World of Chicken, Bugong, KFC, etc.
    Anyways, I recently found out from feng shui that based on my animal sign, roosters are contra to my health and that I should lessen my chicken consumption.

  10. ami, chicken is half the price roughly of pork, hence its abundance in fast food places that want to minimize food cost and maximize margins… lucadong, yes, nirvana misused indeed… Rochelle, more on that in another post. But my basic premise is that libel is wrong, people should be responsible for their words, but the law has serious flaws and should not be implemented as currently worded… nadia, you can make pork lard out of many types of pork fat… fatback, etc. Leaf lard is made with “tampalen” or the fat from around the lining of the stomach. It is considered the most premium of lards, and that is what we make at the restaurants and sell in small plastic containers. I have posts on leaf lard or fat from tampalen in the archives…

  11. Nice post—maybe it’s time for us to finally use the rotisserie function that came with our gas oven. :)

    Good roast chicken has been on our mind lately, having seen Heston Blumenthal make a relatively simple (of course, ‘simple’ is not a word usually associated with Heston) but fantastically time-consuming roast chicken. His recipe involves brining the chicken, then roasting the chicken at a crazily low 90 degrees C (!) for 3-4 hours (!!) or until the chicken’s internal temperature is about 60 degrees C. But it’s not over yet—he cools the chicken, then bastes it with butter, then fires up the oven to its highest temperature, then roasts the chicken till the skin is golden (about 10 minutes).

    He also mentioned that if one tries his roast chicken recipe, one shouldn’t be bothered by the absence of cooking smells (smell = lost flavor, he explained).

  12. See the pan where the drippings fall? Put your cut up potatoes there and you’ll have beautiful roast potatoes (and any other veggies – squash, onions, garlic, asparagus…)

  13. the pictures look so good that i am so hungry now! what camera are you using MM, if you don’t mind me asking…thanks.

  14. add one more to my bucket list: getting a taste of MM’s rotisserie chicken
    now I’m hungry …

  15. Hi Marketman! Honest question- are you Korean? My mom recently went to Cebu and first in the list of my bilins was for her to eat at Zubuchon. But their local contact discouraged her as the owner was Korean. My mom was too courteous to her host so she did not press for Zubuchon. So they ate at another place, presumably owned by a local.

  16. Cancan, I can’t be more surprised by that question. No, I am not Korean, not that would matter I think. If you had read the blog for any length of time, I am pretty sure you would get a clear picture that I was indeed Filipino. :) I am curious where they eventually ended up eating? :)

    terrey, a CANON EOS600D.

  17. MM, here in Oz we use “parisian browning essence” to add a rich brown colour for the gravy.This is also used to brown soups,broths,beef tea,cakes and puddings.

  18. linda, I gather Parisienne browning essence is essentially a dark caramel, almost molasses like concoction (I have never seen it), essentially a form of sugar for flavor and coloring?

  19. Aw Marketman, I would have almost ordered this at Zubuchon, had it not for the lard basting. When my friends go over for a meal at your old Escario branch, I just order one of your shakes (lomboy at one point,) and stay out. No pork for me.

  20. MM, in Paris last winter, we bought a roast chicken which had been cooked in a rotisserie; they had quartered potatoes on sheet pans at the bottom of the rotisserie oven, which caught the drippings and were roasted at the same time the chicken cooked. The roasted potatoes were extremely good (as was the chicken)!

    At home I brine my chicken and roast it in a turbo broiler. I take the drippings and add to a roux for the gravy.

  21. MM, I asked my mom but she could not remember, sorry :-/ I wonder if this is a “tactic” to lure customers away from you? Hmmm…

  22. kenikenken, for a pork-centric restaurant, I can understand your hesitation. However, I know you can sit down to a full meal. Here’s how. Order a shrimp sinigang for your starter or soup. Alternatively have the kalabasa or squash soup, but just ask waiters to OMIT lechon/chicharon, without them its vegetarian. Then for the main course, you would have your choice of our fish fillet with butter as the fat, not lard. Or you could have our chili shrimps or bangus, but tell them to hold the tampalen, but since I can’t guarantee it won’t touch lard, perhaps best to avoid that one. You could have side dishes of pickles (mango, papaya and singkamas), or a salad of tomatoes with smokedfish and red egg. Alternatively, the langka with gata doesn’t have lechon if I recall correctly. We can also do a squid stuffed with onions and tomatoes instead of sisig. For dessert, leche flan, biko, budbud (two types), silvanas are all pork free. So are all of the fruit shakes and our cofee and tea. :) See, it’s possible to dine in without having any pork at all. Believe me, I have done that more than once or twice. :) Let me explore a roasted chicken without lard for folks who can’t have it. Thanks for your comment. And get hold of those last lomboy shakes, they are seriously out of season now so they will be the last few available until next year.

  23. kakagutom naman ito MM…. hmmm. i’m always happy when we buy lechong manok for dinner and plenty of left overs for a sandwich or sotanghon the following day. One of my bosses is allergic to chicken but she enjoys eating it still and would just take her medication for allergies afterwards…. A great lechong manok is really to die for…:)

  24. You serve silvanas!? I’m a sucker for silvanas. Do you make them in-house or are they outsourced?

  25. MM, the ingredients for the “parisian browning essence” reads …..water,colour(150c),salt,preservative (223). Add gradually to achieve desired colour. Brand of this is “Queen” and Australian owned .

  26. btw, the essence is purely colour and none flavouring, this gives the gravy the eye appeal (it’s the cat’s pajamas) :)

  27. Cancan C and MM, perhaps they meant the Korean chicken fastfood Bon Chon?

    MM, I lost my “voice” but have been following you loyally all these months — and trying several of your recipes. Salamat! Padayon.

  28. MM,can’t wait to eat at Zubuchon!! I am going home to Davao in December and going to Cebu for a day just to eat in your restaurant! Can you recommend what I should eat? Love my pork, just sayin:)

  29. Hi julianne, definitely eat at our Escario Central branch on Escario street, about 300 meters from the Cebu provincial capitol building, between McDonald’s and the Shell gas station. Of course have some lechon, the BEST time to get to the outlets is around 11 am for lunch and 6pm for dinner, when the lechons have JUST arrived. We have a pork ribs sinigang that I love or lechon sinigang, if you really want to have a soup with pork. But we also have non-pork soups. Lots of folks like our monggo, with a bit of lechon, lechon broth and chopped chicharon topping. Our dinuguan is made from chopped up lechon, not innards, and is a crowd favorite. Needless to say, when you see the menu, you will not have a shortage of porky choices… :)

    cumin, good to have your back in the comments section… and glad the recipes are still working for folks…

  30. Since it is a bit “bland”. Maybe dip it in peanut oil with ginger ans salt sauce…what you think?

  31. Jamela, most commercial kitchen supply stores will have rotisseries. If you are in Manila, try Metro Commercial Kitchens on EDSA near Greenhills. There are lots of other kitchen supply stores that carry rotisseries.

  32. MM, love your site! Do you know where in Cebu can we buy table top gas-fired commercial rotisserie for roasting boneless lechon belly? Many thanks.

  33. Raquel, I haven’t seen a commercially sold rotisserie for a whole liempo. The meat is a bit heavy for the standard chicken rotisserie. Perhaps you have to have it custom made. We cook our pork bellies over charcoal, as do other purveyors in Cebu for the most part, I believe.

  34. Hi MM :)

    Since finding a commercially sold rotisserie for a whole liempo is difficult, may i know where to find in Cebu gas-fired commercial table top rotisserie for chicken and liempo, i’m planning to open a lechon eatery here in Negros. Hope you can help. Many thanks



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