Pivoting, twirling, dancing in the heat, skins glistening and browning, crisping and cracking. There’s nothing quite like the sight of a dozen rotisserie chickens on the spit.
If you’re thinking of a handful of chickens flipping in a plug-in grocery-store rotisserie, stop right there. This is Colombian roast chicken. This is six-foot-long metal rods, stacked end to end with chickens, beside a wall of flames. They spin in shop windows in towns outside of Bogota, the supply of perfectly cooked chicken seemingly endless.
The birds aren’t on display in the window of La Pollera Colorada de Greenpoint in Sunnyside, but they must be doing some fancy moves in the kitchen, ’cause they come out tender in a way that doesn’t seem right.
It’s wrong how good this chicken is. It’s wrong how much chicken you’ve had in your life, and how it has never been this tender and this savory. It’s also wrong how much food you get when you order the Combo Pollera ($26.95) to go.
The main affair comes in one of those disposable foil baking trays you normally roast a Thanksgiving turkey in. The quartered chicken rests atop a solid two-inch layer of French fries and chopped hot dog (who knows), with a small quadrant reserved for a handful of lettuce. There’s enough rice and beans in separate plastic containers to feed several hungry vegetarians. It’s staggering, especially when you order it for two people. Don’t order it for two people.
The volume of food is so overwhelming, your best move is to grab the closest chicken quarter (preferably the one with the leg attached) and place it on a plate, just by itself. It’s the perfect way to appreciate the bird’s dark, elastic skin and the incredibly moist meat. All of those things that make chicken horrible — like dry, stringy meat and greasy, tasteless skin — are missing here.
It’s disappointing that the sides aren’t closer to traditional Colombian chicken dinner sides. The salty potatoes, dense flour arepas, and generous bag of limes wedges (which would cost $30 in your neighborhood bodega) are just the sort of thing you want with this. They expect nothing of you, challenge you in no way, and are there if you need them to top off a meat-heavy meal.
Don’t hold it against La Pollera Colorada, though. Just, you know, order a single rotisserie chicken like a normal person would. But if you too are incapable of resisting the word “combo” in either Spanish or English, here’s a tip: Eat all of the chicken first. If there’s still room in your stomach after that, you’re a hero. Oh, and you can start eating the sides.