Chefs are finding ways to transform food like never before using ingredients like liquid nitrogen, sodium alginate and maltodextrin. It’s been fascinating to experience some of the dishes that skilled chefs have been able to produce by bulking up their toolbox. However, most of the time, I prefer great takes on classics, and no dish gets more run on my plate than rotisserie chicken. At Superba Food + Bread, Jason Travi and his team cook a knockout chicken using a wood-burning rotisserie and serve the bird with seasonal accompaniments.
In April, Superba’s chicken roasted on a spit over white oak, though Travi sources different woods from Peter Schaner at Schaner Farms. At that stage, the chicken was good, served with Deep South Meets The Med accompaniments: mustard greens, panzanella with dehydrated drop biscuit “croutons” and sultanas, and a tiny ceramic pitcher of sherry pimenton aioli. Maybe it was a matter of mastering the rotisserie, but the Rotisserie Chicken ($24) was even more impressive during my most recent visit, featuring crisp, crackling skin, and rich, juicy meat that clearly signaled that this bird came from the antithesis of a factory farm. Travi also showed welcome restraint with his sides, shucking and slicing raw corn with cremini mushrooms, and accenting matters with sage, hazelnuts and streaks of sweet and spicy peach habanero salsa. It will be fun to give Travi six more months and see how he continues to harness the power of his rotisserie, but I’m guessing it won’t involve a chemistry set.