Last week, after a late night at the office, I found myself scrambling to get to the supermarket on time to grab a rotisserie chicken. At one of the grocery stores I shop at, if you get there after 8pm chances are you’ll find the chickens no one wanted – if you are lucky. Burnt wings, torn skin, just sad looking chickens that have been sitting around for a while. Although everyone needs a good standby place to go grab one, many publications and renowned chefs agree that learning to roast a chicken is an essential kitchen skill.
There are two essential components to making the perfect, Puerto Rican style roast chicken at home:
- The adobo – seasoning mix
- The broiling pan and correct oven settings
Adobo criollo for Puerto Rican roast chicken
The basic seasoning for Puerto Rican roast chicken includes salt, pepper, fresh garlic and dried oregano. I like adding a small amount of cumin to the mix as well. I like to blend all the dry ingredients into an uniform adobo using a spice grinder, but you can mix them with a whisk and it will work just as well. After the dry ingredients are well combined, fold in the garlic and the olive oil. That’s your adobo!
One trick I picked up from my favorite rotisserie place near my former workplace was stuffing the cavity with a bay leaf. It subtly flavors the chicken from the inside as it roasts.
The seasoned chicken rests overnight or for at least four hours in the refrigerator. Leave the chicken uncovered so the skin dries out. The drier the skin, the crispier it will come out of the oven. You may also cover it loosely with plastic wrap if you don’t want the chicken to be too exposed in the refrigerator.
The right equipment
To get the right color and crispy skin, the whole chicken needs to rest in a flat surface. Broiling pans are perfect because the chicken is exposed almost completely to the heat. The drippings that are caught in the bottom pan are perfect to spoon over the finished dish or to start a gravy.
If your oven has a convection or “ROAST” setting in addition to “BAKE”, use that for cooking the chicken. While the “BAKE” setting applies heat evenly from the top and bottom, using “ROAST” shifts the heat so it cooks the top part of the chicken more intensely. Additionally, it activates the oven’s fan, which distributes the heat and allows the chicken to cook and brown evenly.