I got a beef

November 4, 2009

Peter Bochna Chef Butcher

Let’s make today “hug a butcher day” – and I don’t mean that high school dropout kid who works at the local grocery store wrapping up the meat that arrives pre-cut and ready to hit the shelf. I mean a real butcher. Someone who knows how to cut meat and age meat and make a well-raised animal taste as good as it deserves to taste after sacrificing its life to be your dinner.

I recently met chef-turned-butcher Peter Bochna of Absolutely Fine Foods in Toronto’s west end. Not only does he dry age beef and lamb on premises in his store, he cuts it expertly as well.

“No one is teaching the younger generation how to be true butchers,” notes Bochna. “In chef school, butchery class is about cutting meat up; aging techniques are generally ignored. And, most meat processing plants are organized like factories where each person repeats one aspect of the overall process over and over all day long.

“I’m trying to teach my staff how to coax the best flavour and texture from meat at every stage after it comes from the abattoirs and to teach them how to understand how the breed and feed each animal ate while it was alive affects the decisions you make later at our stage of preparing it for people to eat.”

Sigh. People like Peter deserve our business and admiration. I just wish his shop was closer to my house so I could buy all my meat from him.

Do you have access to a ‘real’ butcher?


How blood thirsty are you?

October 21, 2009

hunting

(click image for larger version)

I come from a long line of blood thirsty hunters. On both sides of the family my ancestors were immigrants to Canada who settled crown land. That means that they arrived here and bought settler’s packages that consisted of unbroken land, a shovel, a pick axe and a few other tools. They were also given some of the bare essentials like a cast iron frying pan (I still have the frying pan from our McCauley homestead on the Manitoulin Island) and a few bags of seed. Needless to say, they needed to hunt to survive, especially in those first few years while they were breaking the fields and building houses and barns.

While several of my cousins and even some of their kids still hunt each autumn, I’ve never had the urge. My motto is: Why go shoot some animal when the store is full of yummy steaks?

But, my attitude is not necessarily representative. Not only are hunting and cooking more often topics that go hand-in-hand in the blogosphere, but those in the know tell me that interest in hunting is on the rise. “Hunting is definitely trending up among women in the US. Anecdotally, overall hunter numbers are slowly declining, but the ‘replacement’ hunters for those who die off are increasingly yuppies — or whatever we’re calling them now,” notes Hank Shaw, author of the very popular blog Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, in 2007, the purchase of hunting licenses was up in all categories including small game, moose, bear and deer. In 2008 there were an estimated 450,000 hunting licenses sold in Ontario. Likewise, Lezlie Goodwin of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says that participation in Hunter Education programs is growing. “Hunting is such a holistic approach to food,” adds Lezlie. “It provides delicious, wholesome, fresh meat and it helps people to become more respectful of their food.”

I like what Lezlie has to say because I think she’s right: seeing your dinner on the hoof (or on the wing) makes you realize that every bite is precious. That said, It’s my guess that hunting is like meat eating. Either you do it, you did it or you won’t ever do it. Use the chart above to rate your hunting interest and tell me how blood thirsty you are. I’m a 4 on this blood thirsty scale.


Truly offal news

October 1, 2009

Raw liver

I’m not a big organ meat fan. Other than fatty foie gras I could easily go the rest of my life without eating it again.

I tried to become a fan. When I was in chef school we learned how to prepare kidneys in classic recipes and I did my best to learn to like them. Same with heart and tripe, both which I’ve tried to cook myself and ordered at good restaurants to make sure I’d given the nasty bits the chance they deserve.

I can’t say all of my organ experiments have been negative. On the positive side, I can say that on occasion I’ve eaten fantastic calf’s liver, wonderful sweetbreads, and even tasty lamb brain but I don’t go out of my way to find or avoid any of them. (Except kidneys. They are still just a rubbery waste of time in my opinion and I would avoid them if necessary.) And, other nasty bits don’t bother me at all. I’ve had great pigs trotters and I really like properly made headcheese.

Despite my personal ambivalence, in cities such as San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal and London, eating offal and spare parts from common meat animals (beef, pork, chicken) is becoming quite chic. Tripe churros at Toronto’s Black Hoof; pig trotters in onion-mustard sauce at Montréal’s Au Peid du Cochon and flash-grilled beef tongue with yuzu salad and miso at San Francisco’s Yoshi are swooned over by many.

What’s your opinion on spare parts and offal: awful or wonderful?

PS: the picture above is a lamb’s liver.


Apple traditions

September 24, 2009

sausage with apples

The heady, sweet smell of freshly baked apple desserts always reminds me of mothers. My own mother loves apples and for years one of her signature fall and winter weekend treats was a wonderful apple upside down cake served with warm caramel sauce. In fact, whenever we moved while I was growing up, one of my mom’s first gardening projects was to plant a couple of Cortland apple trees so that she could have a ready supply of fruit both for snacks and for making into this dessert.

Although my mother-in-law Lise Kouprie doesn’t grow her own apples, she is quite famous in her own circles for her excellent Dutch apple tart. Made with tangy, firm Granny Smith apples, she serves large wedges of this not-too-sweet pie with mugs of café au lait as a dessert but also for breakfast and as an afternoon snack, too.

On my own dinner table, apples turn up cooked not only in desserts like these ones, but in many savoury recipes where these delicious fruits add just the right texture, depth and sweetness that make other ingredients such as onions or cabbage taste even better than they do on their own.

Sausages with Onions, Apples and Swiss Cheese

2 tbsp (30 mL)         melted butter

1                               very thinly sliced Vidalia or Spanish onion, about 12 oz (375 g)

1 tbsp (15 mL)          brown sugar or maple syrup

1/2 tsp (2 mL)          dried thyme leaves and pepper

1/4 tsp (1 mL)          salt

1                                clove garlic, minced

2                                apples, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp (30 mL)         chopped fresh parsley

Sausages:

6                               bratwurst or other sweet pork sausages, about 1 1/2 lb (750 g) total

3/4 cup (175 mL)     apple juice or chicken broth

3                                slices Swiss cheese, halved diagonally

Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium heat.  Add the onions.  Cook, stirring often for 8 minutes or until softened.  Stir in the brown sugar, thyme, pepper, salt and garlic.  Increase the heat to medium high.  Add the apple and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.  Scrape the apple mixture from the pan to a bowl. Stir in the parsley and reserve, covered.

Slash sausages a couple of times on each side. Return the skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer sausages, cut-side-down into the skillet. Cook, turning as needed for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned all over.

Add the apple juice to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook, partially covered, for 12 to 15 minutes longer or until sausages are cooked all the way through. Drape a slice of cheese over each sausage.  Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute or until the cheese is melted. Serve the sausages topped with the apple mixture. Makes 6 servings.

Note: this photo and recipe appear in my book, Dana’s Top Ten Table (Random House 2007).


Topline Trend Tuesdays: Grass-finished beef

August 25, 2009

Prime Rib Roast

To say that it’s a bull market for grass fed beef would be true but it would also be a cheap pun so I won’t do it. Oh, wait… too late.

Moving on to the meat of the matter, just what is grass-finished beef? Most beef cattle eat a combo of grass and hay for part of their lives; however, they are generally moved in from pasture to a dry lot to be finished on an all-grain diet that consists mostly of corn. This diet change allows the cattle to gain weight quickly and produces a yellowy-coloured marbled and leaf fat that adds succulence and flavour to the meat – two things most consumers praise in a good steak or rib roast.

Grass-finished cattle aren’t put on a finishing diet. Instead, they stay on pasture until just before they’re slaughtered. The end result is leaner meat with higher Omega 3 content; however, the taste is different, too. While some people call it “beefier,” other people find grass-finished beef tougher and not as juicy as grain-finished meat.

But, even some of these folks are switching to grass finished beef because the farming methods used to raise it pose fewer health and environmental risks; likewise it has appeal because this is the natural diet cattle would eat if they roamed free.

Have you tried grass-finished beef? If so, did you miss the taste that a grain diet lends to the meat? Or, did you prefer its clean, beefy taste?


Behind the barn door

August 17, 2009

Ardenneshorse

Note to my readers: As you may have already noticed, I’ve put my regular blog format aside today to bring you a feature piece about the Canadian horsemeat business. The impetus to write this article arose after I posted about the culinary aspects of horsemeat last month. I received many comments and questions that left me with no ready response;  it became obvious that I needed to learn more about this topic. The result is about 3,000 words of interviews, stats and opinions. I know you might not have time to read all of this piece when you click through today, but I hope you’ll bookmark this post and come back to it when you have more time.

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Behind the Barn Door: The Hidden Facts about Canada’s Horsemeat Industry

By Dana McCauley

[Toronto, August 17, 2009] Early last autumn, on a breezy, bright Sunday afternoon, more than four dozen of Toronto’s top chefs set up tables under a high-roofed barn near the Don River. They were volunteering their day off to participate in the second annual Picnic at Brickworks, a fundraising event hosted by the Evergreen Foundation and Slow Food Toronto. Acclaimed chef and co-owner of Pangaea Restaurant, Martin Kouprie was among the volunteers and knew he was being provocative when he decided to serve glistening spoonfuls of horsemeat tartar, cradled on leaves of tender Cookstown Greens kale. While a handful of guests acquiesced and moved on to the next chef’s table after they heard what Kouprie was serving, most people were inquisitive and tried the horsemeat; and, according to Kouprie, almost everyone who sampled the tartar proclaimed it delicious.

“During my apprenticeship as a cook at Café Henry Burger in Hull, Quebec, I learned how to prepare horsemeat many ways. Its lean, close, compact texture and underlying sweet flavour are very satisfying and make a terrific tartar,” notes Kouprie. “Unfortunately, what I didn’t know when I put horsemeat on the menu at Pangaea and then served it at the Brickworks Picnic is that most of the product now for sale in Canada isn’t raised as food. That means that the quality varies widely and there’s no assurance that the meat being served was raised naturally. I’m very cautious about the meat I purchase and 12-year-old ex racehorses just don’t match my quality criteria.”

Kouprie’s suppliers, whether intentionally or not, had led him to believe that the horsemeat they offer is produced like the pork, duck and venison they also sell: raised with care and respect for eventual culinary use. “I was shocked when I learned that pedigree information on horsemeat is not readily available,” confesses Kouprie.

Canada is the only Western country still producing horsemeat. Although we supply a domestic market in Quebec, most Canadian horsemeat is exported to Japan, Mexico, and European Union (EU) countries such as France, Italy and Switzerland. Although not verified by personal research, one European consumer informed me that Canadian horsemeat is at least occasionally sold in their markets as a grass fed, free-range product. Whether this misinformation is the fault of Canadian suppliers or a liberty taken by over zealous European retailers is unknown. Regardless, spreading such untruths serves only to make people everywhere more wary about the industry. Unlike pork, beef and chicken, a marketing board that can educate retailers, consumers and foodservice professionals about this commodity doesn’t represent horsemeat producers. Instead, this $60 million a year business is characterized by mystery that does more to provoke suspicion than it does to develop an industry where Canadians can show international leadership. In this way, the horsemeat industry does itself an immense disservice and perpetuates many of its own troubles.

Consider the comments made on my blog several weeks ago when I wrote about the culinary aspects of horsemeat and encouraged my readers to choose it as an alternative to game meats such as venison or duck. To be honest, I wrote that piece while under the same assumptions as Kouprie (who is, for those who don’t know, my spouse). Readers, many of whom got to that post from links posted on horse advocacy forums, raised numerous alarming concerns about horsemeat.  From charges of animal abuse to worries about the health of the animals entering our food chain, the comments were passionate and disturbing and inspired me to learn more. Finding a vacuum where I expected to find facts about the Canadian horsemeat business, I began scheduling interviews to discover the truth about how horses are channeled through the system.

One of the first things I discovered is that chefs and food writers aren’t the only ones craving more info about this meat choice. One of my first calls was placed to Tim Chapcuk who has spent his entire career in the meat supply business. Currently he’s a meat and seafood specialist at MacGregor’s Meats and Seafoods in Toronto where his team participates in the Ocean Wise program that traces fish and seafood back to its origins to ensure it’s harvested from sources employing sustainable methods. He and his colleagues scrutinize the pedigree of all the other foods they sell, too. Due to lack of reliable information, his company doesn’t stock horsemeat although Chapchuk often gets requests for it from chefs – especially those with European training.

“It’s not that I don’t like it. I’ve had horsemeat dried like prosciutto, cured in a salami, in sausage form and even in pasta. Every time I’ve had horsemeat the experience has been a positive one. But, I shy away from selling horsemeat since there isn’t enough information about the supply chain for me to carry it,” divulges Chapchuk.

Claude Boissoneau, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) National Specialist on Red Meat Non-Ruminant Species, walked me through the government’s role in the horsemeat business in a telephone interview. According to Boissoneau, 90% of all horsemeat is slaughtered at one of the six federally-inspected horse-slaughtering facilities in Canada. At these facilities, the same regulations are followed that apply to other federally-inspected meats. Likewise, the holding pens and equipment used at these facilities is designed specifically for horses to ensure that the end of each animal’s life is handled as humanely and safely as possible. In fact, independent consultant and internationally recognized animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin has audited these facilities and their practices.

As horses enter the system, the packer screens the animals for health. If there is any suspicion about the animal’s well being or if there is physical evidence that the animal has been given veterinary drugs recently, the horse is put into a special group to be blood tested. Each facility also has a CFIA-employed inspector on staff who also evaluates each beast. Animals with dubious health can be detained and tested, condemned as non-food appropriate or identified as requiring more detailed inspection after slaughter. Likewise, the CFIA inspector inspects every carcass before it’s stamped with an inspection mark and deemed suitable for human consumption by Canadians and for export to other countries. In 2008, inspectors condemned 1.6% of the total number of horses sent for slaughter for reasons such as melanoma, pneumonia and septicemia. While these inspections and procedures answer concerns about whether the meat is safe to eat according to current regulations, they don’t assure home cooks and chefs that the horsemeat sold in Canada is good tasting or of a particular quality or grade. Boissoneau concedes that one can “assume that a high percentage of the horses eaten had a working life before becoming a meat source.”

While this fact discourages people like chefs who want gourmet eating experiences, it doesn’t upset industry insiders like Bill deBarres, chairman of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada. He points out that without Canada’s horse slaughtering industry, there would be nowhere for working and recreational horses to go once they reached the end of their useful lives. Instead, he predicts that there would be thousands of neglected and abandoned horses suffering until they died of natural causes. To put the scale of the potential problem into perspective, USDA statistics indicate that in 2008 the US exported 77,073 horses to Canada for slaughter.

As Boissoneau points out, it’s a business decision for meat packers to decide whether to raise horses specifically for culinary sale or use what is already available to them from US and Canadian farms that have aging or injured horses. While the CFIA diligently screens animals according to current regulations, it’s also true that many of the horses making it into the food stream were treated in their lifetimes with veterinary medicines such as phenylbutazone (Bute), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and worming drugs that are labeled to be harmful to human beings. The good news for all horsemeat consumers is that thanks to the EU, there will be more medical history disclosure in the future. The EU, one of the main markets for Canadian processed horsemeat, has requested that all equine origin meats entering the EU be accompanied with documentation that catalogues the health record of each individual animal.

During the 3-year transitional period allowed for Canada to become compliant to this request, the CFIA is working on interim measures to ensure that European customers are satisfied. Likewise, the CFIA will work with producers to finalize the details that will eventually be included on this equine information document. While Bill deBarres worries that the new rules may entail a 180-day quarantine period which would be a “heavy hit in the face” for cost-conscious farmers, access to this information will likely reassure many Canadian and international horsemeat consumers.

Also of concern to many horse lovers (including those in the culinary, recreational and workhorse categories) is the border crossing facilities that US horses and other livestock use when entering Canada. Since these facilities are used for many different kinds of animals, experts like Bill desBarres assert that they are not as safe as the holding facilities at Canadian slaughterhouses and he’d like to see the border crossing barns re-designed to house specific species. The CFIA is currently studying this situation and desBarres is hopeful that the current system of clearing foreign animals will be revised; however, he also believes that pressure needs to be exerted continually on the federal government to upgrade animal safety standards.

Given the calls for border reform and increased animal health and pedigree documentation, one wonders why anyone eats horsemeat at all. Tradition plays a large part in the choice for many European and Quebec diners. Horses came to North America with the Spanish conquistadors and flourished on our wide-open plains. Although likely eaten by native Indians and early settlers, horsemeat didn’t become a common protein choice here until French citizens settled in what is now Quebec. They brought their taste for horsemeat with them and, to this day, horsemeat can be found often on menus as well as at select grocery stores in that province.

Although eating horsemeat was often controversial in France, the practice was widespread and supported publicly. In fact, when horsemeat was challenged as an appropriate food choice in France in the 19th Century, a group of horse butchers hosted what became a very famous banquet at Paris’ Grand Hotel. Every course of the menu featured horse: on offer was a range of horse-based charcuterie (today bresola, a cured sausage made from horsemeat, remains popular in Italy), horse soup, horse stew and horse steak with potatoes sautéed in horse fat; likewise, the salad was tossed in a horse “oil” based dressing and the meal concluded with a rum gateau enriched with horse marrow. The illustrious guest list included famous French writers Gustav Flaubert and Alexandre Dumas who toasted the meal with glasses of Chateau Cheval-Blanc, a celebrated premier grand cru wine from the Bordeaux region of France whose name translates to White Horse.

I interviewed one person who speculated that European interest in horsemeat is waning as their population ages and horsemeat lovers die off but desBarres disagrees. He predicts horsemeat consumption will rise in Europe since it is perceived to be a healthy and inexpensive meat choice. Culinary nutrition expert Amy Snider, P. H. Ec, confirms that horsemeat is a better nutrition choice when compared to beef. “Horsemeat is slightly lower in calories but still higher in protein than beef. Although horse is only marginally lower in total fat than beef, it contains almost 30 % less saturated fat. It’s also significantly richer in Vitamin B12 and iron,” she states.

Given his belief that these nutrition facts will appeal to health conscious consumers, desBarres anticipates an optimistic future for the Canadian horsemeat exports. “Canada is in a very good position to do well in the animal agriculture industry moving forward,” he observes. “We have plenty of space, good regulations and the know-how to be world leaders.”

A factor fuelling domestic interest in horsemeat is the regional food movement that has many chefs re-examining their local and traditional menu options. “Horses are abundant in Canada and they play a big role in our national identity and history,” says Kouprie. “They’re also part of the culinary heritage of our French settlers. If I could ensure that my sources were supplying naturally-raised animals, I’d consider horsemeat as valid a choice for Pangaea’s menu as the aboriginal hunted Caribou and farmed venison that we feature when they’re in season.”  Although horsemeat is currently off the menu at Pangaea, at least two other trendy Toronto restaurants, the Black Hoof and La Palette, are offering this meat. Seeing such interest by volume customers, it’s easy to imagine ranchers clamouring to supply artisan-raised horsemeat to these chefs; but, if these farmers exist at all, they’re very elusive.

As a journalist with basic research skills, it’s usually easy to find information on the internet. With just a few well-placed keystrokes, listings for illicit entrepreneurs such as hookers and ticket scalpers pop up on my screen. Also easy to find are legal but controversial establishments such as abortion clinics and furriers. But, when I try to find a Canadian horsemeat rancher, I’m frustrated and unsuccessful. It took a lengthy interview with an industry insider for me to earn enough trust to be given the name and number of a Western Canadian horse rancher, one of apparently only four producers in the world who raises horsemeat specifically for the Japanese market. To protect his privacy; this producer asked me to withhold not only his name but also any reference to the specific province he lives in; so, for the purposes of this article we’ll call him John Smith.

Smith has an interesting story. He raises draft horses that he exports live to Japan. John Smith got into this business after being approached by Japanese business people who were seeking an artisan source of horsemeat. They were so enthusiastic about this Canadian farmer’s ability to supply the product they needed to satisfy their very particular Japanese culinary consumers, that they advanced him hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase essentials like stock and feed and to build dry pens to contain the horses. Instead of slaughtering the horses here in Canada and shipping frozen meat, these customers prefer to have the live horses flown to Japan where they can process the meat in the morning and chefs can prepare it that night. (One popular restaurant dish features fresh, raw horsemeat, shaved so thinly that it’s almost translucent, seasoned with fresh ginger and green onions.)

Selling this specialty meat to Japan is lucrative for Smith but not without risks. He confided during our interview that a counterpart of his, who operated in the US before laws there made his business illegal, had to post armed guards at the gates to his property. To say that Smith is careful to avoid attention would be an understatement. “It’s a precarious business,” he notes. “I have to be very cautious since I don’t want 500 animal activists camping out on my doorstep.” This necessary secrecy frustrates Smith and desBarres who both defend everyone’s democratic right to eat or not eat whatever livestock they choose.

Although he doesn’t want to be a public advocate for horsemeat, my undercover rancher was happy to teach me all about the culinary benchmarks for horsemeat. According to Smith, the ideal horses for culinary use are big muscled draft horses (the food encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique, states that Europeans have specific preferences for Ardennes – pictured above – and Postier Breton draft horse breeds). Once weaned from their mother’s milk, the horses are fed an all-grain diet so that they develop a generous amount of the marbled fat that contributes to tenderness and flavour. Two-year-old beasts are the ideal age to slaughter. And, like beef where steers reign supreme on the plate, geldings are considered the most premium sources of horsemeat.

After spending literally hours on the phone, I now have a well-informed perspective and feel much better equipped to answer the comments raised on my original blog post. I’ve developed a strong opinion about what’s wrong with the Canadian horsemeat business, too. It isn’t how it’s regulated or that it’s cruel to kill and eat such pretty animals, but that the rules currently allow packers to put poor quality meat with a Canadian stamp on it into the international food system.

If we’re going to continue to send horsemeat to other countries I would like to see us not only adopt the EU’s documentation guidelines but develop a grading system that sorts horsemeat categories in a manner similar to how beef is graded. We also need to encourage culinary, purpose-bred horsemeat farms that operate similarly to the ones we have for not only traditional meats such as beef, pork and chicken but also for game meats such as venison and duck. Moreover, we need a horsemeat marketing board that educates chefs, retailers, consumers and even those opposed to the consumption of horsemeat about the true facts surrounding how this meat gets from farm to table. In this scenario, a transparent and profitable horsemeat processing industry would make cold cuts like bressola and salami out of less tender, medically verified advanced age horses and ensure a well-monitored supply of young, culinary-quality draft geldings for customers who want to cook fresh horsemeat.

But that’s just my opinion. Smith disagrees. While he’d gladly increase his operation to satisfy a well-paying domestic market, he thinks a marketing board would be a waste. “You might be able to encourage people in Vancouver and Toronto to try horsemeat, but in the Prairie Provinces the romantic tradition of cowboys riding horses across the plains is just too strong. None of the cowboys who work for me would ever eat horsemeat.”


Spun gold – a collection of rotisserie chicken tips

August 7, 2009

DSC02560

When I posted my glossary of barbecue links here last week, I realized how long it’s been since I spun a chicken on my barbecue rotisserie. How could I have fallen out of such a good habit? I mean, what’s yummier than a juicy, crispy-skinned, smoky flavoured rotisserie chicken?

I spared no time remedying the situation and made these yummy chickens last Sunday when my sister-in-law and her granddaughter came to visit. The next day I shredded the leftover meat and made soft tacos – two fantastic meals!

If you haven’t used a barbecue rotisserie before, here are a few tips you might want to consider before tossing birds onto the spit:

• Choose a rotisserie spit that not only fits your barbecue, but that is made of durable, good quality metal like stainless steel. I had one a few years ago that was chrome plated and as soon as it got very hot, the shiny plating started to flake off onto the food. Yuck!
Line the area directly under the chickens with a piece of foil or an old baking sheet so that as the juices flow from the meat, flare-ups don’t occur. (I had forgotten this step during the first few minutes that these birds were on the spit; that’s why the wing and leg tips are scorched).
Turn off all but the front or back burner on the grill. I like to leave the back one on so that when I reach over the front of the grill to baste the chickens my hand doesn’t get singed.
• Adjust the temperature on the burner so that you can maintain a constant temperature of 300°F (160°C) to 350°F (180°C) when the lid of the barbecue is closed.
• Add a couple of smoking pucks over the ignited burner to augment the smoky flavour if you like.
• The chickens will need about 90 minutes to cook. If you’re going to use a glaze like the chili-lemon one below, brush it over just during the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.
Let the chickens rest for 15 minutes on the spit before removing it and carving the birds.

Chili-Lemon rotisserie grilled chicken glaze

1/4 cup (50 mL) each honey and lemon juice
1 tsp (5 mL) chipotle pepper sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) each chili powder and chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper

Whisk the lemon juice with the barbecue sauce, chipotle pepper sauce, onion, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper until well combined. Baste the chicken with this glaze during the last 15 minutes of cooking on the rotisserie.

PS: Just to prove that I can learn from my mistakes, here are two Cornish game hens I made to ensure my instructions would work perfectly at your house:

IMG_0225