Sometimes we do things without asking ourselves why. Things like accidentally watching Maltese television for more than a few minutes. Or eating a banana that’s already turned way too soft but you continue eating it anyway. Then there are times when you stop and ask, how did I even get here? Rotisserie chicken tasting is one of these epiphanous moments.
That’s what I discovered yesterday when I decided to buy a ready roasted chicken from every supermarket in Malta (barring the ones you’ll undoubtedly remind me about in the comments) to test which is the best. Spoiler alert: They’re all pretty shit.
I must say, I too was surprised by this revelation. I’ve always been a fan of the old #RotisChick. I remember being nine years old, travelling to London for the first time, when I encountered this magical invention at a supermarket. Back in the 90s, rotisserie chicken was like balsamic glaze and himalayan salt: it hadn’t yet reached our tiny little island. But since local supermarkets caught on, I’ve always enjoyed indulging in this tiġieġ of convenience. Until yesterday, when I took a closer look and examined what I was actually eating.
So here it goes…
Overall score: 4/10
Tasting notes: Colourless, tasteless, dry af
Pama is my favourite supermarket, hands down. It’s all set on one gigantic floor, there’s ample parking and it’s the sort of place you can buy a yoga mat, fresh lobster ravioli and every cheese that exists in the world. One problem though, it’s chicken is pretty clucking crap. It’s got no colour, it tastes as bland as the paper bag it’s served in and it’s dry af. If you’re ever going to Pama for good pre-cooked food, choose literally anything else.
Overall score: 4.5/10
Tasting notes: Deceptively nice colour, depressingly overcooked
You know how there’s always that one person at a BBQ who feels the need to say “it’s chicken ta” before insisting you burn the poultry to a crisp? That person clearly works at Tower supermarket.
The poor chicken fell apart quicker than Lynn Chircop at the Eurovision. Sure, everyone wants some colour on their chicken skin, but when it looks like it’s been rubbed in tarmac, you know something’s not quite right. Thankfully the charred skin had somewhat more flavour than its pasty Pama equivalent.
Overall score: 5/10
Tasting notes: The saddest barbecue sauce in the world
Scott’s only had barbecue-flavoured chicken when I visited, which should have been a welcome change from the bland chickens of before. The problem is that the barbecue sauce tasted more like barbecue grease. And once I got that image in my head, there was no turning back. I couldn’t get through more than a couple of bites. To be fair, I gave it a second chance in the morning (as is compulsory with rotisserie chicken) and it was the only one with enough flavour to justify a whole chicken wing.
Overall score: 5.5/10
Tasting notes: Gluey and pasty skin, some actual taste of chicken
If you haven’t yet been to the new Green’s, please stop what you’re doing and head there now. It’s a testament to how supermarkets in Malta have upped their game in recent months.
The staff is super friendly and its pre-cooked section feels like something out of a Barcelona food market. The rotisserie chicken is probably the worst thing you could opt for though. Pasty and gooey skin, zero seasoning and drier breasts than a mother of seven, at least the chicken did seem to be of a decent quality especially when you get to the leggy bits.
Overall score: 5.5/10
Tasting notes: Slightly saltier and tastier than the rest but with a funky aftertaste
Smart’s chicken looked the saddest at first glance and in truth it was pretty sad. But at least it had some flavour. There was a smokiness to it that you kind of expect from a rotisserie chicken. But after a few bites a weird aftertaste set in. It might have been my body rejecting the sudden chicken overdose, so I’m just going to say this was marginally better than the rest. At least it seemed to have a good colour and the right amount of seasoning. Unfortunately dryness of breast did not escape even the smartest of chefs.
ValYou (formerly, and probably still known as GS)
Overall score: 6.5/10
Tasting notes: At least it looks good
If like the rest of Malta you haven’t been to a GS supermarket in a while (what with the Lidls, Greens and Pamas of this world taking over), you might want to check out their revamped stores. The one in Naxxar has a new section serving pretty decent freshly-cooked goods, including a roast chicken that doesn’t come served in paper but a serious-looking plastic container instead.
Don’t let it raise your expectations too high. This is still rotisserie chicken, so expect the standard powdery breast. The difference here is that the skin has a little flavour to it and the colour was pretty good too.
Overall score: 7/10
Price per kilo: €8.43
Tasting notes: I think I can actually eat this one
So it would seem money can buy at least some level of happiness. Arkadia is easily the most expensive supermarket in Malta – rotisserie chicken included. But at least, its chicken tastes like something you can actually eat.
Firstly, they have three flavours (plain, barbecue and lemon), all of which were available when I popped by. I chose lemon and I wasn’t disappointed. The colour was just right, a nice burnt yellow. And even though the breasts were dry, the rest of the chicken was pretty juicy and just the right level of tender. This is a far cry from a home-cooked chicken, but the cry is a little closer than if you tried it from anywhere else.