04 February 2012

Spit-roasted rosemary garlic chicken

One of the nice things about these little European ovens like the ones most of us have over here is that they come equipped with a rotisserie. Our oven is a Brandt, so it's German which is French (thanks to "smart-ass" Jan for that revelation; see comments). We bought it a few years ago because we wanted gas burners on the stove top, not just electric, and we liked the dimensions of the oven. We couldn't get a bigger "cooker" (that's British) because it wouldn't fit into our kitchen without major changes and renovations.

Chicken cooking on a spit over a pan of Belgian endives

The main thing we cook on the rotisserie is poultry, both chickens and guinea hens. It would also be good for other roasts of all sorts, and I need to start using it for pork, beef, and veal. But for now, it's about chicken. I bought a couple of them on sale at the supermarket — two for the price of one, which is a deal I can't resist (just over six euros for two 3 lb. chickens).

Un poulet fermier Label Rouge, élevé en plein air

These particular chickens were poulets fermiers (farm-raised chickens) and carried the Label Rouge that is supposed to be proof of good quality. The label also says « élevé en plein air » — raised outdoors, or free-range. I'm not sure what that means in detail, but it must be better than battery-raised chicken — birds raised in cages.

And these are really good chickens. I know, because we've already cooked and eaten one. The other one went into the freezer. I decided to season the chicken with rosemary and garlic. To do that, I cut fresh rosemary growing in the garden, pulled the leaves and new growth off the big branches, and chopped that all up with a big knife.

A "paste" of chopped rosemary, pressed garlic, and
softened butter — amazing smell and flavor

Press four garlic cloves into a bowl, and then add the chopped rosemary, two or three tablespoons of softened butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. With a fork, mash all that into a paste, adding a little olive or other vegetable oil if you need it for texture. Then spoon the rosemary paste into the cavity of the chicken. Use a skewer to close the cavity up, especially if you're going to cook the bird on a spit. You don't want all the butter to leak out during cooking.

Put the chicken on the spit and the pan underneath

Paint the bird with olive oil and put in on the rotisserie to start cooking at 230ºC / 450ºF. Leave it for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 200ºC / 400ºF and let it continue cooking for another 40 minutes. If the chicken starts to get too brown, turn the oven down to 180ºC / 350ºF.

One thing I've discovered by trial and error is that it's good to put a pan of liquid it under the chicken while it's cooking on the rotisserie. The cooking juices and fat from the chicken drip into the pan of liquid (water, wine, or broth) and don't just burn and smoke on a dry oven pan or on the bottom of the oven. And you end up with a pan of flavorful jus that you can serve as is or thicken to make gravy. The steam from the pan of liquid helps to cook and tenderize the chicken, keeping it moist.

Poulet rôti à la broche

The next evolutionary stage in my cooking method has involved adding some vegetables to the pan of liquid under the bird. Potatoes, for example, with just a little water to keep them from sticking to the pan. That's what they do at the open-air markets in France when they cook dozens of chickens on huge rotisseries. You can buy the potatoes, which often are cooked with diced carrot, celery, and onion in big trays under the rotisserie, where all the chicken fat and juices can drip down on them during the cooking.

Endives braisées au four avec carottes et oignons

This time, I decided to cook Belgian endives under the chicken. First I sautéed the endives in butter with lemon juice, and then I added a little wine, some diced carrot and onion, and a bay leaf. When the endives were partially cooked, I put the chicken in the oven with the pan of endives underneath and let it cook. Endives can benefit from long cooking, and the chicken juices dripping on them just made them all that much more delicious.


  1. That looks amazing! You're always good at providing culinary inspiration. I think I might put chicken on the menu tonight!

  2. Oh, that looks so good. I can taste it. Time for lunch -- leftover chicken, in fact!

  3. I can smell the rosemary & garlic! And it's making me hungry! Just off to make lunch -- remainder of a chicked we grilled last night as it happens; but in a roasting tin.

    Have never yet tried out the spit roast contraption that came with our oven. Antoinette

  4. When we selected appliances for the house, we made sure that the oven has that function. Can't wait to roast a chicken.

  5. looks tasty....I'm surprised u have to cook the endives first as I would think they would cook enough in an hour with the chicken anyway

  6. Now you've got me thinking it's time to make the trek to the organic chicken farm. I wish rosemary grew outdoors year-round here. The ones in pots are a little skimpy at this time of year.

  7. Melinda, I like the endives sort of browned in butter before they start braising in lemon juice and white wine. That's why I cooked them on top of the stove before putting them in the oven.

    H.Peter, I'm not sure I understand what your situation and plans are. Will I see all that on your blog?

    Tout le monde, :^)

  8. I will try your rosemary,garlic and butter paste the next time I prepare a chicken. Merci.

    I don't have a rotisserie, but it would be fun to have!

    Mary in Oregon

  9. I'm really surprised that oven rotisseries are not common in the US. They have been in Australia almost as long as I can remember. (Nobody uses them though.)

  10. I use your same recipe without the garlic. Next time I'll add garlic. I don't have a rotisserie, so I tuck the paste between the skin and meat of the breast and roast it in a bag in the oven. As it cooks, all the flavor of the paste soaks into the bird. Delicious (sp?). I can't wait to try it with garlic.

  11. Cooking the endive with the chicken drippings is brilliant.

  12. It's 5pm here and after reading your post, I'm about to ask Sue to read replicate that!!!! I'm salivating.

  13. That looks so good, I can almost smell it from here in Derbysshire !!
    Nick loves using the rotisserie in our French oven but I am not so keen on the mess it makes - so I will make sure he reads your post so we can enjoy the juices and have less cleaning to do !!

  14. Archguy, that sounds like a good way to do it, putting the herb rub under the skin of the breast. Try the garlic too.

    Okay, Jean, tell Nick that the pan with some liquid under it when you put a bird or a roast on the rotisserie is essential. Cleaner, and with a tastier result.

    Leon, Sue, Starman, :^)

  15. Once again, I have to be a smart ass... Brandt is a French company: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandt_%28marque%29

  16. Jan, thanks, I had no idea and didn't look it up. I guess the fact that Brandt is French explains why the cookstove is such an excellent appliance (LOL).

  17. Wow I'm so glad I found this post! I have a Brandt as well.I had never used this rotisserie attachment before. I'm gonna get on it tonight. I've always just done it in a pan with some veg underneath while it cooked.


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