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Chef David Chang Is Blasting Costco's Rotisserie Chicken

Mashed 1/16/2023 Jennifer Mathews
Costco's rotisserie chicken © calimedia/Shutterstock Costco's rotisserie chicken

In our increasingly busy and health-conscious world, people are looking for quick meals that offer healthier alternatives to drive-thru burgers and fries at the nearest fast-food restaurant. Readily available and quick-cooking, chicken is a popular go-to protein for lunch and dinner.

According to Healthline, chicken can be part of a well-rounded diet, high in protein and other vital nutrients, while low in calories. Supermarket News reports that 2022 chicken sales reached $14.5 billion, a staggering 9.9% increase, despite supply shortages and inflation. Chicken saw a 17.6% price increase this year versus 7.2% in the overall meat industry.

With various cooking methods and unlimited poultry recipes, how you prepare chicken dictates how healthy the dish is. Baking, grilling, poaching, and stir-frying are the healthiest ways to prepare chicken, while frying adds unhealthy fats and carbs, and rotisserie, which is often brined, contains high amounts of sodium.

Since 1985 when Boston Market, formerly Boston Chicken, opened in the US, Americans have been picking up a well-seasoned rotisserie chicken at a growing number of grocery stores, most notably wholesalers like Costco. Due to their taste, $4.99 price tag, and convenience, Costco's rotisserie chickens have become a staple of a semi-homemade meal in many households per Taste Cooking

While many of those households include off-duty restaurant chefs, celebrity chef David Chang is not among them. In a recent episode of Chang's podcast, "The Dave Chang Show," Chang spends considerable time blasting Costco's rotisserie chicken (and those of us who line up for it).

Inedible When Eaten Cold

David Chang © Ron Adar/Shutterstock David Chang

The aroma of cooked chickens skewered on rotating pits, basted by the juices of the chicken above it, lures hungry consumers to the back of the store. These brined and seasoned chickens are often the center of the dinner plate one night, leftover rotisserie chicken is used for an additional meal the next, and the chicken bones are used to make stock for yet another. At $4.99, Costco's rotisserie chicken is a real value, especially since it's cheaper than raw chicken.

In Chang's January 9 episode, "Dave Chang Goes to Costco and Unraveling the Truffle Conundrum," Chang called Costco's rotisserie chicken "inedible."  He added, "There's something about all the nitrates and all the crap they pump into the chicken that makes the chicken breast even more disgusting the next day when it's cold." While the label lists ten ingredients, nitrates are not among the other additives, per Business Insider.

So who has the best rotisserie chicken? According to Chang, Sprouts Alhambra, a grocery store near Los Angeles, California, does. Rotisserie chicken cases are cost-prohibitive for most smaller independent retailers, and those with them can charge upwards of $20 for a smaller bird. According to Taste Cooking, consumers put off by the long list of Costco's additives can find antibiotic, hormone, and artificial ingredient-free rotisserie chickens at other grocery stores like Whole Foods and Kroger, where an organic rotisserie chicken costs $9.99. 

Read this next: 8 Meats You Should And Shouldn't Buy At Costco

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