Monday, January 9, 2012

Rotisserie Chicken (Pollo al ast)

Rotisserie chicken, or "pollo al ast,"  is a favorite of kids and a memory of lazy summers on the beach in Catalonia - a treat on those summer Sundays as a child. In Spain, the rotisserie chicken or "pollo al ast" is typical in Catalonia. However, it has extended through Spain and beyond its borders. In Catalonia it is not uncommon for many moms to plan the Sunday meal of rotisserie chicken, usually prepared and bought in a "pollería" on the way home from the beach with french fries and a salad. Even the best cooks need a break from the kitchen. 
In my hometown and during my teenage years with not a lot of money this chicken was the equivalent of fast food, but healthier. We would get together on Fridays and adults with small children would gather at the only outdoor brew bar (closed in winter) in town that sold hot dogs or "Frankfurts" and chickens with fries and a salad. Friends could talk and laugh while children could play since it was outdoors. Spanish restaurants are child friendly and it is not uncommon for many of them to have an outdoor jungle gym.




The rotisserie is a process of cooking the chicken on a spike that turns in a high flame so it cooks evenly. The skin gets crispy while keeping in the juices so it is moist inside. The chicken has a rub of lemon, thyme, rosemary, olive oil and, of course, the secret ingredient that every business claims to add. They baste them often during the cooking process.


As I said, this chicken is and was a favorite of children. I remember that one summer some friends sent their 11 year old daughter to pick up the chicken from the butcher who also sold  "pollos al ast." On her way home she started nibbling the skin and by the time she got home she already had eaten the whole chicken. 


Our family has gone through 2 rotisserie ovens so now we cook this chicken in the oven at high heat with lemon, thyme, rosemary and pepper crumbs.


Ingredients:


1 small chicken
olive oil
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
pepper flakes (just a few)


In an oven on very high heat, put the chicken breast side down and then up,  basting often so the skin becomes crispy. Cook it for about an hour.


I made some baked potatoes and kale chips to accompany the chicken. For the chips, rinse the kale, dry it and toss it with olive oil. Place it in a roasting  pan and put it in the oven about 30 minutes after starting the chicken.

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