Product Knowledge Guide: Rotisseries

Fast Fact:

Many rotisseries also include warming cabinets to hold finished products.

Types: Commercial models generally fall into two categories: batch- and continuous-cooking units. Batch cookers are appropriate for operations serving high volumes of customers during specific time frames. These models employ a rotating drum that moves skewers around within a cooking cavity. Operations that hold food items throughout the day typically use continuous-cooking models, however. These are almost always vertical units, with skewers or baskets suspended in ascending tiers.

Capacities/Footprints: Sizes can range from 150 high 3 350 deep 3 370 wide for a countertop rotisserie to 780 high 3 370 deep 3 420 wide for high-volume batch machines. Most full-size models have skewers that can commonly hold 36 to 80 whole chickens.

Energy Source(s): Gas or electricity. On some models, standard rear fireplace burners with ceramic logs simulate an open hearth. Heat emanates from infrared sources or the circulation of warmed air. Some units are designed to generate heat from above, others from below. One maker offers a unit with infrared burners that operate on a 10-minute cycle. The burners can be programmed to burn for any percentage of the cycle or turned off completely so the rotisserie is powered by the center flame alone. Some units are able to operate as two separate cooking areas to allow for staggered batch timing, or for the preparation of different products without co-mingling the individual product flavors.

Manufacturing Method: Rotisserie cabinets vary when it comes to construction. Most feature a galvanized sheet metal body sheathed inside and out with stainless steel. Doors are also available in different formats, ranging from single, front-pivoting designs to double closures. Other models are completely open. One model offers both front and rear access doors for easy loading. Some doors are made wholly of glass, others have windows. One model offers wool glass for better insulation. Some makers coat cabinet fronts in anodized metals. Some rotisseries feature a curved glass design and can roast and automatically hold products for customer viewing in FOH settings.

Standard Features: A small electric motor rotates the product spits as moist, hot air circulates around foods and through a rotisserie's cavity. Popular accessories include heavy-duty spits and baskets to hold fish or vegetables. Hinged, tempered-glass doors for open viewing have moved to the forefront as exhibition cooking has proliferated. Many rotisseries also include warming cabinets to hold finished products. Some doors are designed to stay cool for added safety.

New Features/Technology/Options: Programmable modes offer pre-heating and holding capability. Other options include automatic cleaning programs, adjustable legs, mirrored door glass and coated angled or piercing spits. At least one unit features a constant drip water bath, so the products' grease is constantly being removed from the cabinet. The water bath includes a removable stand pipe to make cleaning easier.

Key Kitchen Applications: Rotisseries are used in both the back and front of the house to roast skewered meats and poultry (usually whole chickens), as well as fish and vegetables. Some operators also use them to prepare barbecued items such as ribs or sausages.

Purchasing Guidelines: DSRs should inform their customers that rotisseries, with their moving parts and dramatic cooking action, are proven food-marketing tools and are, therefore, popular for front-of-the-house applications. Should a customer purchase a rotisserie for this purpose, a salesperson would be well-served to direct them to models that cook products most rapidly and are decorated with eye-catching conceptually thematic exteriors.

Maintenance Requirements: Gas models have the most stringent ventilation hood requirements. Electric models must, of course, also be vented properly. Some models offer ventless hoods that install directly on top of electric rotisseries. Drips pans, spits and drains should be easily removable without tools.

Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: Enamel coatings can make cleanup of food stains and grease easier and quicker. Drip trays must be sanitized and grease traps drained often. Models with heated cabinets are designed to withstand caustic cleaners, carbonization and corrosive fats, but damage can nonetheless result. Some high-end models offer a cavity self-cleaning function that can minimize labor requirements.