Taste Test Thursday: Rotisserie Chicken

There are few American foods my dad loves more than rotisserie chicken.

(Maybe fried chicken, but that’s about it.)

I grew up eating Boston Market’s rotisserie chicken like my life depended on it. Actually, it took a lot of convincing by my co-workers before I decided to remove it from this taste test list. They say it’s crap; I say it’s fantastic. Memories, I’ll admit, can befuddle the mind.

For this tasting, I went to five common places to grab a rotisserie chicken in Dallas. I did this all within 1.5 hours and tried, as best I could, to get them back here to still hot. (They ended up warm.) Kroger made the cut because I’d heard good things. Its chicken came in a little plastic bag, swimming in a pool of savory juices. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing I was, “Might be good, but how could it compare to Eatzi’s and Central Market?”

In that case, you’ll find the results surprising.

1_taste_test_name
A. Velvet Taco’s herb rotisserie chicken ($20 for whole chicken + 2 sides + corn tortillas. It’s half-price on Mondays)

B. Central Market‘s classic rotisserie chicken – $7.99 for a whole

C. Eatzi’s rotisserie chicken - $10.99 for a whole (half is an option)

D. Kroger’s (Cedar Springs location) rotisserie chicken - $5.99 for a whole

E.  Cowboy Chicken‘s rotisserie chicken - $8.39 for a whole (half is an option)

A
3_tasting_notes
Ingredients: thyme, rosemary, parsley (Roasting time: Close to 2 hours)

  • “Herby, lemony, very moist. Would be a great Sunday dinner with mashed potatoes.”
  • “A little dry, hard to cut, not much meat. Peppery, herby”
  • “Woodsy herbs. Not what I want in rotisserie chicken.”
  • “Good lemon-herb flavor, but dry.”
  • “The color is pale and off-putting.”

 

B
3_tasting_notes
Classic: “A nice blend of paprika, onions, salt, and pepper” (Roasting time: Marinate for 24 hrs, roast for 1 hour and 45 minutes)

  • “Spicy. Lots of meat on the bones.”
  • “Lemony.”
  • “Chipotle. Would be good for potatoes and a BBQ picnic.”
  • “Lawry’s seasoning salt? Makes me want fajitas or guac”
  • “Moist. Mesquite-y flavor to the skin. Points for flavor.”

C
3_tasting_notes
Roasting time: 45 minutes to an hour

  • “Classic rotisserie chicken. Not very flavorful, though.”
  • “Pretty plain.”
  • “Easy to cut. Fresh-tasting. Would be good on a salad. A little dry.”
  • “Tastes like chicken.”
  • “Dry. Chalky. Is this turkey?”

 

D
3_tasting_notes
Roasting time: 45 minutes

  • “Chewy, needs salt.”
  • “Skin is flabby, but the chicken is fairly moist. Decent flavor.”
  • “This is how rotisserie chicken should be.”
  • “A bit slimy. Serviceable.”
  • “The skin was well-seasoned and flavorful.”

E
3_tasting_notes
Grilled over wood-burning fire (Roasting time: 2.5 to 3 hours)

  • “Smoky.”
  • “Tastes a little like barbecue.”
  • “Slightly BBQ-y, but dries instantly
  • “Smoky, which is a little overpowering”
  • “Skin is nice, dark, and crisp”

 

4_tally_up

5 votes for (D) Kroger
4 votes for (E) Cowboy Chicken
2 votes for (A) Velvet Taco
2 votes for (B) Central Market

5_conclusion

So Kroger won.

But before we discuss why, let’s talk about the other four. Cowboy Chicken’s wood-fired meat did well, since it had a really great barbecue flavor that none of the others had. It was distinct and smoky and flavorful. Velvet Taco, on the other hand, tasted more like Marcella Hazan’s lemon chicken than a rotisserie chicken. At Velvet Taco, you can see these lean babies roasting behind the cashier station, but none of them look dark enough. They all look like pale chickens with a mix of herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley) spread over them. They’re great with the corn tortillas, elotes, and Korean barbecue sauce they come with. (On Mondays, these birds are half off.)

Eatzi’s was distressingly dry but it had the best crackly skin. Central Market’s chicken fared a little better yet didn’t stick out among the five. It was a tad bit dry and a little spicy.

I know you’re probably gasping and sighing and raising your fists against commercialism and whatnot, but that Kroger on Cedar Springs Road sure knows how to cook some robust rotisserie chickens. Honestly, it’s the worst-looking chicken, given its soggy, broken skin. But if you’re not into crispy skin and you like cheap wet meat, this is your best option. Grab a plastic bag off the shelf, lift the chicken out of its juices, and start cutting. Dinner’s ready.