PLAINVIEW, N.Y. -- Two ShopRite stores here have found a way to cook rotisserie chickens in half the time with a process that also boosts yield and ensures proper cooking, officials said.
Faster cooking is particularly valuable to the retailer because there have been days this summer when the two stores could barely keep up with demand for their already-popular rotisserie chickens, said Harvey Cohen, director of deli and food service for the ShopRite units.
"The cooking time and the additional yield are important to us for competitive reasons but just as important is the fact that it [the new cooking process] kills bacteria very quickly. We don't have to worry about a chicken being underdone because they cook from the inside out as well as getting flame-roasted from the outside," Cohen said.
He referred to the use of ThermoWave spits that generate heat from within and are used in a process of rotisserie cooking recently developed in a joint venture between Thermo Pin Inc., Plainview, N.Y., and Hickory Industries, North Bergen, N.J.
"It normally takes us from two to two-and-a-quarter hours to cook chickens to 185 degrees, but this cuts the time to one hour and there's at least a 10% more yield. The chicken doesn't lose as much moisture because the cooking time is shorter," Cohen said. He uses birds that are at least 3.5 pounds uncooked, he added.
Thermo Pin, the developer of the heat-from-within-the-spit technology and Hickory Industries, a manufacturer of rotisseries and other commercial cooking equipment, ran a week-long test in the two ShopRite stores in April with "great results," Cohen said.
In fact, he was so impressed with the test -- which compared cooking chickens on ThermoWave spits with cooking them on standard spits -- and the resulting rotisserie chickens that he has ordered 30 ThermoWaves for each of the stores, he said.
Cohen said he has recommended the spits to his cooperative wholesale supplier Wakefern Corp., Elizabeth, N.J., which supplies more than 180 stores that operate under the ShopRite banner.
ShopRite stores here, owned by John Greenfield, will be the first Wakefern co-op members to have a full complement of the ThermoWave spits.
"We hope to have them by August 1, but I would have liked to have had them a couple of months ago," Cohen said. He explained that in summer he does a particularly big business in rotisserie chickens.
In addition to plain rotisserie chickens, the two ShopRite stores offer six marinated varieties. The new cooking process, Cohen said, helps to produce nicely browned marinated chickens which was not always possible with a standard rotisserie spit.
"The standard method of cooking tends to burn the outside of the chicken because of the marinade on it, but with ThermoWave you're not cooking it for as long a period of time. They just come out golden brown. They look good," he said.
Cohen said, too, that he's looking forward to telling his customers about the new cooking process because they are aware of food safety issues particularly when it comes to chickens.
He emphasized that the safety factor is a top one in the new cooking method. "In fact, there aren't any drawbacks I can see to the new system, only advantages," Cohen said. He pointed out that the cooking process itself is not a new concept, but that it has just been adapted to rotisserie chickens.
Marvin Spath, president of Thermo Pin, developed the process years ago and it is used in cooking roast beef in institutional and commercial food-service establishments.
"Arby's was one of the first chains to use it," Spath said.
At Hickory Industries, Steven Maroti, president, said he had been looking for years for a way to ensure that chickens are properly cooked.
"We needed to find a way that doesn't involve electricity or any mechanical wonderments. Our goal was to find the means to absolutely assure that chickens get properly cooked and the Thermo Pin technology does that," Maroti said.
Hickory Industries has a contract with Thermo Pin that gives it license to use the patent for rotisserie application and also has obtained exclusive rights to manufacture and market ThermoWave spits.