A few weeks ago, I listed my Top 5 roasted chickens in Chicago. I think at the time, I was limiting my options to chickens that were actually roasted in ovens - sealed in their warm cocoons, juices dripping, skin crisping - and left off any rotisserie birds since they don’t really spend much time in an oven, per se. But one look at the operation at Brasa Roja on the Northwest Side, and you quickly realize the Colombians also know a thing or two about transforming chicken into utter deliciousness, even if they don’t seal it into an airtight box.
With a handful of locations in the city (also known as El Llano), the owners have mastered the art of deep marination, slow, circular roasting and then quick-finishing directly over the charcoals, just to crisp up the skin. It’s almost hypnotizing watching the birds rotate ever-so-gently on the custom-made rotisserie, but when you bite into the smoky, juicy bird, you quickly realize this isn’t a dream.