When I served this dish, several of my dinner guests were wondering what the ‘secret’ ingredient was that gave this Tuscan spit roasted chicken such a special flavor. Of course, rotisserie chicken is almost always wonderfully juicy and luscious, but pollo in porchetta—chicken prepared in the manner of roast suckling pig—is something else. The secret: you stuff the chicken with large chunks of pancetta and herbs. By the time the bird is done roasting, those aromas penetrate the meat and give it a luscious, savory flavor.
- 1 roasting chicken
For the stuffing:
- 125g (4 oz) pancetta (or salt pork), cut into chunks
- 3-4 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
- A few sprigs each of fresh rosemary and sage
- A handful of juniper berries
- A few whole peppercorns
- Salt and ground pepper
- Olive oil
Salt the inner cavity of the chicken generously, then stuff with large chunks of pancetta and the other stuffing ingredients.
It is a good idea, especially if you want to spit roast it, to truss the bird to keep the legs and wings in place. Then season the bird by rubbing salt and pepper into the skin of the bird and drizzling olive oil all over it.
Once your bird is stuffed, seasoned and trussed, you roast it. The best way is to use the rotisserie on your barbecue. Set some aluminum pans with some water or wine in them below the bird to catch the drippings, and turn on the burners to each side, but not those directly beneath the bird. If you have a rotisserie burner, turn that on as well. Your set up should look something like this:
Start your rotisserie turning, close the lid of your barbecue and let the chicken roast until it is golden brown all over. The internal temperature should reach around 70 C/160 F. Roasting should take about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your bird.
If you don’t have a barbecue rotisserie available, you can also roast your chicken, on a rack, in a hot oven (200 C/400 F). If your oven has a rotisserie, so much the better. If you don’t have a rotisserie function, you will want to baste the bird from time to time with a bit of wine or olive oil to keep it moist.
After the chicken has been roasted, leave it to rest, tented with aluminum foil, for about 20-30 minutes before serving. Serve your Tuscan Spit Roasted Chicken cut into pieces, sprinkled with salt and, if you like, decorated with your favorite aromatic herbs for a bit of color and aroma. You can use the delicious drippings as a sauce, reducing it if need be in a small saucepan.
Although the stuffing and seasoning will give any spit roasted chicken great flavor, of course buying the best quality chicken you can find will make this dish that much better. For this dinner, I bought a locally raised, free range, organic bird at a nearby farmers market. As pretentious as that may sound to some, it really does makes a huge difference.