BC’s own Chef Eric Akis wants your weeknights to be a little bit easier – and your dinners to be much tastier. A longtime local food-writer for the Victoria Times-Colonist and a professional chef, Akis’s The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook is for the evenings where you want to pull together a healthy meal, and you’ve got a ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken to work with. With tons of suggestions for healthy side dishes, and encouragement for eventually learning to roast your own chicken, Akis is on a friendly mission to take the angst out of your last-minute meals. Looking for a little weeknight inspiration? Chef Akis shares just a few of his fresh ideas below.
We Heart Local: The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook features over 100 ways to enjoy store bought or local chicken. What makes rotisserie chicken so versatile?
Chef Eric Akis: Rotisserie chicken is a comfort food with wide appeal; even kids like it! There’s something about the juicy flesh, incredible skin and wonderful aroma that folks can’t resist. When store-bought, rotisserie chicken is also a convenience food that can reduce the stress of dinner making. Add a few tasty side dishes and voila, dinner is ready. Another reason rotisserie chicken is so versatile is because it’s also a great ingredient to cut into pieces, slice, shred or dice and use in another recipe.
WHL: Do you feel we should be eating more chicken?
EA: This book is not so much about getting people to eat more chicken, as chicken is already the number one meat consumed in Canada. It, instead, is about encouraging people to enjoy chicken in a wider array of delicious ways and setting them up with ideas on how to create complete and nutritious meals with it. To give you just a small taste of how diverse the recipes are, in the book you’ll find those for Quinoa Soup with Chicken, Squash, and Pesto; Spicy Chicken, Mango, and Cucumber Salad; Chicken Gyros; and Polenta Pizza with Chicken, Olives, Fennel, and Asiago.
WHL: Who did you have in mind when you wrote this book?
EA: This book is designed for people who routinely buy a rotisserie chicken and are looking for ways to create complete and very flavourful meals with or around it. It will also appeal to the backyard barbecue king or queen who wants to learn how to cook his or her own rotisserie chicken.
WHL: Can you tell us a little bit about how you learned to make your own rotisserie chicken? (And how achievable is making your own rotisserie, anyway?)
EA: When I was a chef’s apprentice, just starting my cooking career in the 1980’s, the first hotel I worked in had a rotisserie oven right in the dining room. When a customer would order a chicken, a chef would slide it off the spit and bring it into the kitchen for carving. It looked so delicious, that when it was being carved, it was very hard for me to not run over and rip off a wing before it was served to the customer. That’s where my fondness for rotisserie chicken began and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. It’s also where I learned that rotisserie chicken is not difficult to prepare. Season and truss the bird, secure it on the spit, turn on the spit, and cook chicken until done. As I note in my book, you also don’t need a lot of equipment to cook rotisserie at home. Many barbecues are built to accommodate the spit and its motor, the two key pieces of equipment you’ll need, and some models even come with them. If your barbecue is fitted for a spit and motor, which many of them are, but didn’t come with them, purchase these parts at a store that sells barbecues and accessories.
To learn more about The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook, check out Chef Eric Akis’ website. If this leaves you hungry for more, we’ll be giving away copies of this cookbook on Facebook & Twitter. Join the conversations there for a chance to win! And if you’d like a sneak peek of one of his recipes, click here. Photo credit: Jo-Ann Richards.