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.