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Rotisserie chicken: overcoming 'turnBUMPturnBUMP' syndrome


Mjx
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Anyone have practical suggestions for correctly positioning a chicken on a rotisserie spit, so that the weight is evenly distributed, and it turns smoothly, rather than doing a slow half turn, hesitating, then heaving the heavier side over?

I've tried different arrangements based on various advice, but I cannot seem to find a protocol that works, and I'm a bit concerned that having to compensate for the imbalance is going to damage the motor.

The rotisserie arrangement involves a spit, and two staple-shaped, pronged clamps that hold the bird in place; the clamps hold the bird securely, but since the prongs are about 5cm apart, it does restrict points of insertion, especially on smaller birds.

Any suggestions on the logistics behind getting this right would be tremendously appreciated (I searched the site and didn't find a discussion of this, but if I missed something, please point me to it!).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Sounds to me like your rotisserie motor doesn't have enough torque to do the job.

I just truss my birds well, and everything goes nice and smooth.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I position the prongs on the outside of the chicken without piercing the bird. Push the entire prong assembly tight up against the bird. The Weber rotisserie came with an adjustable counterweight, but I've never had to use it. Also, when doing two chickens, turn one upside down.

Monterey Bay area

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I position the prongs on the outside of the chicken without piercing the bird. Push the entire prong assembly tight up against the bird. The Weber rotisserie came with an adjustable counterweight, but I've never had to use it. Also, when doing two chickens, turn one upside down.

We do the same and never get the bump thing even with an ancient electric open rotisserie. If the skin starts to balloon or bubble out at joints I prick it. Also if the chicken has lots of fat I prick the skin occasionally to get a basting thing going on.

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Sounds to me like your rotisserie motor doesn't have enough torque to do the job.

I just truss my birds well, and everything goes nice and smooth.

That may be the problem; it's an oven rotisserie, so the feature isn't its primary one (I can't find the spec.s on the motor in the manual). I have to admit that the 'bump' isn't a severe one (a momentary lag), but I'm plagued by the idea that I'm screwing something up, and should be doing whatever I can to get it right.

Do the legs roast properly when they're trussed tight up against the sides of the chicken?

The legs seem to be the problem: I've tried leaving them free (this causes the most uneven turning), and trussing them loosely (not much better), but have avoided trussing the legs tight against the body of the chicken, because I worry that they'd take forever to cook properly, and the breasts would dry out (but now I'm thinking that having the prongs sticking into the thighs would raise their internal temperature, and perhaps accelarate their cooking).

I position the prongs on the outside of the chicken without piercing the bird. Push the entire prong assembly tight up against the bird. The Weber rotisserie came with an adjustable counterweight, but I've never had to use it. Also, when doing two chickens, turn one upside down.

The space between the prongs seems too wide to secure the front end of the bird (chickens are almost all 1200 or 1300 grams here [about 2 lb 10oz, and just short of 3 lbs], just a little too large for more than one to fit on the spit): I've been thinking about shoving a potato or something on the spit inside the front opening, to help anchor the front of the bird.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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IIRC trussing is key to roasting a chicken, because it turns the bird into as compact a unit as possible, making the cooking more even.

Pretty sure I saw TK explaining this on some food show -- No Reservations?

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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The rotisserie on my weber grill has an adjustable counterweight you tweak to balance it out. Perhaps you are missing an equivalent part?

My Ducane grill came with a counterbalance also and it works very well in combatting the turn-bump-turn. I should say it works well on a small application. I roasted an entire pig once on a homemade contraption that looked like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was belt driven and no matter what we did that huge pig always wanted WHOOMP on every turn. We actually reduced the turn rate by putting a larger gear on the motor and that helped.


I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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IIRC trussing is key to roasting a chicken, because it turns the bird into as compact a unit as possible, making the cooking more even.

Pretty sure I saw TK explaining this on some food show -- No Reservations?

I'm definitely going to take this advice next time I break out the rotisserie; as I said, I've avoided doing this, since I was concerned that it would make for uneven roasting (and several sources say it doesn't matter whether or not the chicken is trussed), but actually, I've never seen this mentioned as a problem.

Thanks Paul; that's actually one of the places I looked in the beginning. Part of the problem is that it (and most of the advice out there) seems to apply to rotisseries that are separate units intended for use over a grill, which (I think) have more powerful motors than the oven rotisserie in our kitchen (I think this particularly applies to the indication that trussing is optional; I'm also questioning the accuracy of 'Chickens are heavier of the back than on the breast side', since the bulk of the meat is at the front).

The rotisserie on my weber grill has an adjustable counterweight you tweak to balance it out. Perhaps you are missing an equivalent part?

. . . .

My Ducane grill came with a counterbalance also and it works very well in combatting the turn-bump-turn. I should say it works well on a small application. I roasted an entire pig once on a homemade contraption that looked like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was belt driven and no matter what we did that huge pig always wanted WHOOMP on every turn. We actually reduced the turn rate by putting a larger gear on the motor and that helped.

Our rotisserie has no counterweight (perhaps they're not usual with oven models?), although it should be possible to rig one up, if I can't get the hang of arranging the chicken evenly on the spit. Tweaks to the motor would be tricky, since it would mean completely dismantling the oven to get at it, and I think I'd rather not go there, since the rotisserie isn't used that often (I actually like pan-roasting better, since you can deglaze the pan when you're done).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I'm a real big fan of spit-roasted meats, too, especially chicken (who can resist those rotating, dripping banks of chickens in any market in France?). In fact, many years ago we had a brilliant home oven that gave just such results. Of course it was French - Scholtes - and it had a fantastic, never-fail spit. We eventually changed the oven for a 90cm Smeg and we chose this in part because it too had a spit. However I'm afraid to say that the Smeg turned out to be a toy and simply not man enough for the task. Problem, it seems, was that the drive was not direct - that is, the motor was accessed through the back wall of the oven, so it meant that power was transferred through a gearing mechanism to make it change direction to drive the spit horizontally across the width of the oven. The chicken would invariably flop around (no matter how carefully positioned) and sometimes the mechanism would jump off, the chicken would stop turning, and, if we didn't notice this in time, then the chicken would burn. We finally got fed up with the Smeg - for this and numerous other reasons, notably because the heating element kept burning out. We replaced it with an oven from of all places New Zealand - a Fisher Paykel. This is both a fantastic oven and also a great oven for spit roasting. It too is a 90cm oven, which means we can thread two chickens on the spit and it is more than up to the task of turning them both without effort. As suggested I usually put one chicken breast up, the other breast down and this works well. But even with just one bird, it turns evenly without the flopping about. I think it is because the motor doesn't have to struggle. No counterweights are necessary. And the results are mouthwateringly superb - crispy, bubbly skin, juicy, moist meat - sometimes we put diced potatoes underneath to catch all the fat and juices. Delicious.

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. . . . However I'm afraid to say that the Smeg turned out to be a toy and simply not man enough for the task. Problem, it seems, was that the drive was not direct - that is, the motor was accessed through the back wall of the oven, so it meant that power was transferred through a gearing mechanism to make it change direction to drive the spit horizontally across the width of the oven. The chicken would invariably flop around (no matter how carefully positioned) and sometimes the mechanism would jump off, the chicken would stop turning, and, if we didn't notice this in time, then the chicken would burn. . . .

Our oven doesn't have a direct drive, but one like that you describe in the Smeg, which may be part of the problem. Still, the lag isn't too bad, and I'm hoping that firm trussing will solve the problem. Overall the Gaggenau has been a great oven, so I'm hoping this'll work out, too.

No help with the horizontal unit anymore.. I just want to say I have a vintage SunBeam vertical Rotisserie for our chickens. Works like a charm!! Something to consider

Paul

A vertical rotisserie is appealing, but we've pretty much run out of room in our kitchen... :hmmm:

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Try beer can chicken which AFAIK produces the same results as a rotisserie. The bird is vertical and stationary. There are also vertical roasting holders and racks. Forgot where I got them but mine look something like THIS. I haven't used my rotisserie for poultry in years.

Edited by Mano (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Try beer can chicken which AFAIK produces the same results as a rotisserie. The bird is vertical and stationary. There are also vertical roasting holders and racks. Forgot where I got them but mine look something like THIS. I haven't used my rotisserie for poultry in years.

I've toyed with the idea of trying beer-can chicken, and if you're thinking, 'Woman, why not just DO it?!', I'll have to come clean: the rotisserie attachment in the oven is my boyfriend's baby, and one of the reasons he specifically wanted our particular model of oven (he stands and gazes happily at the rotating chicken... for a few minutes, anyway). I'm... less enchanted by the device (a rotisserie makes perfect sense if your heat source for roasting a chicken is an open fire, but when you have a more or less state-of-the-art electronic oven, I don't quite get it).

I can't complain of the results I'm getting now, which are gorgeous (if identical to those I get using the old pan and rack approach), but I would love to nail down the correct way to distribute a chicken's weight on a spit, if only because getting it right continues to elude me.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Mjx, tell your boyfriend beer can chicken is a guy thing. Like snow blowers and chain saws. I can appreciate his jones for the rotisserie but my guess is he probably didn't know BCC existed when he bought it.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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. . . . but my guess is he probably didn't know BCC existed when he bought it.

Ah, he knew about it, but it holds no interest for him, especially since he doesn't even like beer (and using an empty Lagavulin bottle probably wouldn't work out); he is drawn to things with many, many moving parts and, preferably, fragile electronics that require you to routinely pull apart the parent machine. That's his idea of fun (to be fair, he does that sort of thing really well). Unfortunately, his patience doesn't extend to most cooking projects, which is why I'm the one sitting here with the rotisserie, and a chicken that is starting to look like Saint Sebastian.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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