Sunday, January 24, 2010

Preyed Upon by Infomercials

Remember this snake-oil salesman?

Yes, it's Ron Popeil, founder of Ronco, and crown-prince of spray-on hair, food dehydrators, and the Showtime Rotisserie, a device whose 3 AM infomercials have surely given many a college stoner a food-motivated stir in the britches.

Shamefully, I too fell victim to the sweet siren's song of cooking a whole turkey, baby back ribs, hot dogs and sausages for the whole neighborhood....oh...I'm hyperventilating. How could I survive without this ultimate kitchen gadget?! Set it, forget it, and become the champion of the kitchen: envied by men, and adored by women for my roasting prowess.

This was eight years ago. I saw a deal online...$99 bucks, and I would become an Iron Chef in my own mind.

Needless to say, it was used a couple times, then boxed up; set aside; shunned for years and years. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, we pulled the rotisserie out of mothballs this weekend and thought we'd give it another go. I'd procured a few bottles of freshly opened, then recorked Bordeaux (disclaimer: I got these as part of a tasting hosted by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux...more on that later). While Cab is often a little hefty for roast chicken, I found these 2007 Bordeaux to be quite approachable, and I had chicken at home. What? You think I should've gone out and purchased something more appropriate? Who am I? Charles Montgomery Burns? I'm broke, son! Maybe if you'd click a link once in a while... :)

As it turned out, the chicken was great. I actually split-tested it against another chicken that was pan roasted in butter and its own juices. The rotisserie chicken was more flavorful, juicier, and had crisper skin. Oh, Ron Popeil, you rascal! You've done it again. We were so delighted with the results that I ended up doing a half leg of lamb in it the following night.

I think the secret is to use something small enough to not crowd the cooking area (the chicken was under 5 lbs. and the lamb was 2 lbs.), as well as trust your own instincts (or a meat thermometer), rather than the "catch all" cooking times on the side of the Showtime.

So, my hat is off to you, Ron (oh, and I need some of that hair spray). In my mind, you've been upgraded from "snake oil salesman" to "P.T. Barnum-style rejuvenating tonic peddler", like this guy:

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