My All American Pok Pok Rotisserie
After Gourmet magazine was murdered, I had no consolation until Lucky Peach was born. Thank you David Chang and Peter Meehan for rescuing me from the old and known, and bringing me back to new and fascinating experiments. Lucky Peach takes me places it would be hard to find on my own like Ivan's ramen in Tokyo or how to recreate Pok Pok's Kai Yaang hens at home. Portland is only three hours from here by car, train or the Bolt bus, but it's nice to have the recipe.
I admire Andy Ricker's extreme time and techniques that make the poultry from Pok Pok iconic. This is not fast food. There are four stages before you light the charcoal and load the hens or chickens on a rotisserie. I had to buy one the day I read the article in Lucky Peach Issue 7 because owning a rotisserie, according to Peter Meehan, screams I LOVE AMERICA. That's all it took to break my resolve not to buy any more cooking equipment, particularly charcoal related, as the season is short here, unless you enjoy drinking in the rain.
What have I learned since the spring when the rotisserie attachment arrived by UPS? Each step of the famous Pok Pok Kai Yang hens is good all by itself, so for example if you have an hour or two before dinner you can make the two basting sauces (honey-garlic and tamarind) and skip the brining, stuffing and drying, and marinating steps. If your time is limited, doing just the brining step adds some interesting flavor as does just marinating. Each step is a good way to enhance poultry, but to do all four steps is sublime. Whole chickens work fine too, although a Cornish game hen makes a generous, efficient serving.
Once I saw how easy it was to plug in and load the rotisserie there was no stopping me trying everything else that might possibly be speared through the center before grilling. One of my finest experiments was a boneless leg of lamb from Horse Drawn Farms on Lopez island. With a very simple garlic and rosemary rub before grilling, the aromas were so intoxicating no one bothered to grab a photo before it was devoured.
Good news for all is Andy Ricker's first cookbook, Pok Pok, is coming soon to a store near you.