Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bitten: Rotisserie Chicken Part Two - Gourmet Grocers

Universally popular, rotisserie chicken is also a feature of the upscale food emporia. Can the $7.99 bird from Rabba ever hope to hold its own against a costlier one from McEwan, Pusateri's or Whole Foods Market?

McEWAN - $13.99
Packaging: The ugiquitous covered plastic tray was larger than usual but not because the chicken was any bigger than standard. Storage temperature warnings. No juice in the tray.

Appearance: A shower of herbs gave a jolt of colour to the pale golden skin. Looked plump and moist.

Flavour: Despite the sprinkle of herbs on the outside and the bunch of thyme in its cavity, the chicken tasted only slightly of herbs. Though it had cooled somewhat before we tasted it, the flesh had not dried out.

Overall Impression: While herbs perked up the appearance of this chicken, they did not lift it above average in terms of tate. Wehn you are paying a premium price for a rotisserie chicken you not only want a pretty bird, you expect exceptional flavour.

PUSATERI'S - $8.99
Packaging: Plastic tray and cover in which a small amount of liquied had accumulated.

Appearance: This chicken owed all its colou to a rub. Judging by the hue, it was heavy on paprika. both breast and lega seemed a little scrawny.

Flavour: The dry meat betrayed very little taste - either seasoning or inherent chicken.

Overall Impression: We wanted to see some colour from the cooking process not just from a rub. It just seemed small and unloved. At least it wasn't overpriced.

Packaging: Plastic tray and cover in which a small amount of liquid had accumulated.

Appearance: A plum bird, it was a lovely burnished brown without being burnt.

Flavour: We had thought we were picking a plain chicken but when we looked at the label later, it said "Lemon". What we actually tasted seemed more like tarragon.Whichever, it was delicious and the dtectable herbal taste did not overwhelm the innate flavour of the juicy meat.

Overall Impression: Second most expensive, this was certainly the most attractive and tasty. Though the chickens Whole Foods uses are not labeled organic they are antibiotic and hormone-free, raised on a vegetarian diet and are not caged. With its appeal to many sense, this chicken was definitely worth the price.

1. Whole Foods Market
2. McEwan
   & Rabba   TIED
4. Valumart
5. Sobey's
6. Pusateri's

Though some were better than others, none of these birds were unacceptable. In some cases we got more than we paid for - the least expensive one tied for second with the most expensive. If money is an object, rest assured the $7.99 Rabba chicken is just fine. Some shops such as Whole Foods have them on special during the week.

The one thing missing from all these birds: crispy skin. Whether packed in a covered plastic tray or foil-lined bag, a hot bird will steam. While the plastic containers may appeal visually they are more difficult to transport than a bag, create a pile of garbage, and seem to create more steam than a bag.

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