Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rotisserie Chicken on the Grill and Pork Version of Lomo Al Trapo

Why bother grilling a rotisserie chicken when you can buy them already cooked at the grocery store for like 3 for $5?  Okay, I exaggerate but they do sell them cheap!  

But cooking on a rotisserie scratches a primal itch for this backyard cook.  Watching the guest of honor rotating slowly as it bastes itself with rivulets of lusciousness brings to mind images of nomadic hunters, spinning their game over embers.  Sure, I'm cooking mine on a stainless steel gas grill with an electric rotisserie - it's still a little primal.  Primal-ish, maybe?
Either way, this chicken was delicious even if I did something bad and by bad I mean good.  I used a little lard instead of butter to put under the skin with the dry rub.  For health reasons I wouldn't do this often but I know that I'll be doing this again.
rotiserrie chicken on gas grill

Rotisserie Chicken on the Grill

  • 4-5 pounds chicken
  • 1/2 tablespoon lard
  • kitchen twine for trussing chicken if desired.
for the rub
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel
  1. Preheat grill to 350f.  
  2. Season the chicken.  Mix together the rub.  Take about 1/4th of the rub and mix with the lard or softened butter.  Work up under the skin around the breast and thighs.  Sprinkle the rest of the dry rub all over the outside of the bird.
  3. Truss the chicken (see video below) and then mount securely to your rotisserie rod.  Make sure it is good and snug, you don't want your bird bouncing back and forth as it rotates.
  4. Place the rod in the rotisserie motor, turn on and let cook until the thighs reach an internal temp of 180f and the breasts 155-160f.  Derrick Riches of AboutBBQ.com recommends 20-30 minutes per pound and mine finished right at 25 minutes per pound.  (You should check out his whole rotisserie thread, good stuff there like the lemon trick he mentions for stabilizing the bird internally.)

I just use cotton kitchen twine but you can use the elastic ones (Rotisserie Elastic Food Ties EFT-50) like the grocery store if you find those easier.  To me, the elastic ones are a pain to remove.  I always get it  stuck on a wing or something and then it pops loose, flinging hot chicken juice across the kitchen.

Here's a video from Rouxbe Online Cooking School that shows how to tie a bird. 
Wondering where the flames are?  They are under that big curved square black thing which is the infrared emitter.  Even at this low temp setting, the emitter itself was 450f (not the cooking temperature) so it does seem to act as a heat capacitor, evenly doling out infrared heat.
Another angle of the TRU-Infrared emitter.  It smells so good when some of the juice drips and sizzles.

You spin me right 'round, baby, right 'round like a record, baby. (Dead or Alive)
The chicken was your standard, excellent rotisserie chicken.  Juicy as all get out, perfectly cooked, and the only downside was that I only cooked one this time.  It was hugely popular at our house this weekend.

Pork Tenderloin version of Lomo Al Trapo

I am still working on my book and while I had the chicken going, I had both of the kamado grills running too.  I often joke that I got my BBQ diploma from the University of Fire, Trial, and Error.  Well one of the test recipes was Error. 

One of the recipes I was trying was a pork version of Lomo al Trapo.  It is usually a center cut beef tenderloin wrapped in a damp towel and salt crust, then grilled directly IN the red hot coals.   I've done it with beef before with good results, so  I thought I'd try it with pork tenderloin.

Pork tenderloin is a smaller cut than beef but I cook pork to a higher temp than a beef tenderloin. I adjusted the time in the coals to 8 minutes, flip, then 7 minutes.  After the cook and rest, the pork was 147f,   The technique worked perfect for that.
I was going to wrap it burrito style as pictured but it worked better squared like below.

Roll up, tie the ends....

And straight into the fiery coals.  Looks like someone is burning their gym socks, doesn't it?
Perfectly cooked, temp wise.

But the pork tenderloin was pale on the outside with very little browning.  Even worse was it was way too salty - the one thing you CAN'T change about this technique, since it's a salt crust.  I guess the salt crust works for beef but overpowers the pork because of the mild flavor.  Also, the pork tenderloin has a bigger ratio of salted meat (exterior) to unsalted meat (interior).  I wonder if a bigger cut like a pork loin would work better because you would have a bigger percentage of unsalted meat to balance it out.  I might try that.  
Oh well it seemed like a good idea at the time.  If you don't screw up every now and then, you must be playing it too safe and boring.  At least I learned what doesn't work, now back to the drawing board.

And the chicken was darn good so that made up for it.


  1. Good for you Chris. It is good to experiment and pass on the results to all of us. Your chicken looks great and I have no objection to lard. After all it was used by our Great Grandmothers all of the time and it seems like I read somewhere that we should start eating like our ancestors. Margarine, light butter, etc can't be better than real lard. Looking forward to your book.

  2. Damn that rottisserie chicken looks good! Costco has nothing on you.

    btw, there is nothing wrong with a little lard.


  3. The chicken looks perfectly done and amazing...... your back porch setup is one to be envious of.... and I love the line about not messing up from time to time - makes me feel better about all those failures I've had :)

  4. The chicken sounds great and Bev advises that $5 is about right. I liked the trussing video and the use of lard. The culinary world exist as it is because of trial and error - it did look like a grilled sock.

  5. I have always been afraid to make a chicken like this! Now I may have to give it a try! Thanks for showing us how easy it can be!

  6. Beautiful bird Chris. We definitely want a rotisserie on our next grill.

  7. As an aficionado pf that glorious precooked, pre-seasoned store bought bird I was excited to read your DIY. i do know the stores inject a brine solution in their birds. Glad to know it was not necessary. I did have a cook at Sam's Club tell me that the injected brine is more for reheating than for eating fresh.

    And right before i got to your burning gym socks line I was wondering if a tube sock would be easier and cheaper.

    Thanks for the "Fail". ALways interesting to read what doesn;t work and why. We are getting more snow and single digit temps this weekend, so no grilling for me... SIgh


  8. I'm with Heather, I've always been afraid I start the neighborhood on fire with all that grease. Maybe I'll get brave.

  9. I really like the simple combination of spices you used on the chicken. The bird looks delicious!

    It's good to know that salt crust does NOT work for a pork tenderloin.

    Your setup on the deck looks awesome... what a fun place to cook.

  10. I agree with Velva - Most stores rottisserie chicken does not look as yummy as yours..Thank You for posting your trials & errors something we all can learn from..Keep experimenting..Great photos!

  11. That looks very delicious. Nothing beats cooking food yourself. There's always some kind of connection with the dish. Thanks for sharing the video. I've done it a few times but I still can't help but wonder if I'm doing it right.

  12. I haven't seen lard used for cooking since the 70s! But then why not, the chicken looks perfect.

    Great to see a chef getting his hands dirty and experimenting, but admitting when it didn't work out.

  13. I had to deviate a little on the rub as I'm 20 mins out of town.... I used butter instead of Lard, Also did not have dried lemon zest so I used Lemon pepper seasoning and 1/2 the pepper. It was great. Simple too. Recommend it highly for no fuss easy dinner...


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