Rôtisserie Chicken Day: A celebration of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favourite dish and a wine pairing

Rôtisserie Chicken Day
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Yesterday, 2nd June was Rôtisserie Chicken Day, a day celebrating a dish with more French origins than you may realise. You can read on to discover the history of Rôtisserie chicken, plus a wine pairing recommendation from a French wine importer in Australia.

What does the word rôtisserie mean?

The term rôtisserie is of French origin, first appearing in Paris shops around 1450. Rôtir means to roast in French and –erie is often used for a place, think patisserie, boulangerie. The French word rôtir is thought to have been derived from the German raustjan.


What is rôtisserie cooking?

Meat is skewered on a long metal rod called a spit which rotates and cooks over a fire or roasts in an oven. Rotating it allows for even cooking and easy access for basting the meat throughout the cooking process.


The rôtisserie method of cooking has mediaeval origins

The spits mounted in hearths of mediaeval time were of course not motorised like they are now. So someone has to turn the spit over several hours. Back in mediaeval times the meat of choice was a hog.


Roasted chickens were far rarer then because they relied on chickens for their eggs. It was only the older hens that were no longer laying eggs that were roasted.


A popular recipe used in mediaeval times was for chicken endored which had a batter mixed with saffron, pepper, ginger, and salt. They were also commonly stuffed with onions, grapes, and herbs like sage or parsley.


Rôtisserie chicken was Napoleon’s favourite dish

It is claimed that Napoleon Bonaparte was obsessed with rôtisserie chicken. Apparently in his Parisian palace kitchens, chickens were constantly roasted on spits to satiate Napoleon l. It’s even claimed that when he went to Egypt to map out an area, the only food he took with him was three roasted chickens.


His Private Secretary, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne wrote Memoirs of Napoleon in which he claimed that  the “establishment was so arranged that in all places and at all hours, chicken, cutlets, and coffee might be forthcoming at a word.


The beginnings of rôtisserie restaurants in Paris

One hundred and fifty years ago, twenty or so rôtisseries based in Paris supplied the good society in the suburbs, the spits were installed in the castles and large bourgeois residences with a large number of servants, as well as in the high-class inns.


By the 1950s

France only had about sixty rôtisserie restaurants. The Anglo-Saxons did not use this method of cooking, and the others were mainly spread around the Mediterranean.



And of course now rôtisserie chickens can be found not just at chicken stores but even cooked at the supermarket!




Clos Cachet wine pairing Rôtisserie Chicken DayAshleigh Huggins of Clos Cachet recommends pairing the Rougeot-Dupin – Mercurey 2019 with Rôtisserie Chicken for Rôtisserie Chicken Day. She says: 


A nice classic rotisserie chicken is the perfect base dish to serve with a white Burgundy. This bottle of Mercurey Blanc is very fresh with quite delicate fruit. With its full-fleshed style it is rich enough to bring to life the small details of limestone minerality notes of rose, lilac and narcissus. I recommend enjoying the bottle of the course of a lunch or dinner where you can take the time to pull apart the combination to perfection.


Do you like rôtisserie chicken? Have you ever paired it with wine?

Keep 2nd June in mind for Rôtisserie Chicken Day. 


Plan your month with French and Francophone linked events happening in Australia with our What’s on in June


More food and wine pairings

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