Ron Popeil is the infomercial king and inventor of the Chop-O-Matic hand food processor, the Dial-O-Matic, successor to the Veg-O-Matic, and Popeil Pocket Fisherman.
Popeil was voted by Self Magazine readers as one of the 25 people who have changed the way we eat, drink and think about food.
Although Popeil sold his business interest to Ronco Holdings, based in Austin, Texas, some years ago he began marketing a newer product called the Showtime Rotisserie.
I have never been a fan of Ron Popeil’s products, only because I assumed them to be cheaply made kitchen utensils that would eventually either fall apart or thrown in a drawer cluttered with other useless kitchen gadgets and forgotten.
But I was interested in this product. A rotisserie, by its nature, stands alone as a wholly different kind of kitchen appliance that necessitates some degree of quality in construction, because its function relies on controlled heat and constant rotation.
And the mouth-watering finished product from a rotisserie is so much more enticing than a bunch of chopped vegetables.
Ronco currently offers three different models of the The Showtime Rotisserie: Compact, Standard and the Stainless 5500 model. For our review, Ronco provided the Stainless Rotisserie 5500.
Ronco’s 5500 Series Showtime Rotisserie arrived professionally packed — minimizing the risk of any possible damage from shipping.
The unit comes with:
Non-stick Drip Pan
12 Food Ties
The only assembly required is inserting the heating plate behind the heating element, which simply slides into place. I don’t consider the use of the drip pans and rotisserie spit itself as part of an assembly process. Both the instruction book and DVD are simple and easy to understand.
The main unit is solid and fairly well constructed. The surface is brushed stainless steel and prone to smudges. The two non-stick drip pans (grate cover and drop tray) are thin and could bend if enough pressure was applied to them during cleaning.
The drip pans clean easy enough but we advise covering the grate cover part of the drip pan with a sheet of aluminum foil when cooking. That makes clean up a cinch.
The geared rotisserie spit assembly comes in two pieces: on one end cap two rods are permanently affixed and fit snugly into the other end cap. The spit is sturdy and made of Teflon coated steel. The non-stick basket is also well made.
At first I thought the see-through rotisserie door, which opens and slides under the unit was flimsy, but then I discovered the door is easily detached from its hinges so it can be cleaned.
For our review, we bought a 5 1/2 pound whole chicken. After rinsing off the chicken, and smothering it with selected spices, we followed the provided instructions and used one elastic food tie (provided).
Starting with the breast side down, with one tie you go behind each wing, cross over the back and pull it over the bottom of the chicken and up the front to hold the legs together. Then we tucked the wings inside the tie.
As instructed, we inserted the spit rods into the meaty portion of the breast area and made an effort to evenly push the rods to the other side of the chicken at the same level. This task was effortless.
The rotisserie oven has three cooking positions: Rest, A and B. We placed the rotisserie spit on the first “rest” position and then moved it back one notch to the “A” setting, or middle position. The instruction book claims position “A” is for normal size food and position “B” is for small food and/or the Multipurpose Basket.
In addition to the instruction book, cooking times are conveniently printed on the rotisserie near the timer and includes a spit cooking guide for chicken, turkey and rib roast and a basket cooking guide. Fifteen minutes per pound is listed for chicken, so we set the timer for 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Besides the oven timer, there is a 3-position switch: Roast for normal rotation with heat; No Heat, rotation without heat; and Sear, heat with no rotation.
After setting the timer and the switch to “Roast,” the small oven light came on and the spit began rotating instantly and purred quietly while it revolved during the entire time.
I was glad we had placed the rotisserie oven on top of our regular oven, because after about 15 minutes, a small amount of smoke escaped through the rotisserie oven vents and I was able to turn on our regular oven fan.
From this moment on, wearing the included oven gloves is mandatory before touching the oven because the oven gets extremely hot. As time went on, I noticed the chicken drifting to the right on the spit and I occasionally opened the oven door to center the chicken.
Don’t “set it and forget it”
Because cooking any food for extended periods may pose risks, we advise ignoring the “set it and forget it” slogan from the infomercial. Check the oven frequently to make sure the rotisserie is working properly and no food has landed on the heating element.
Ronco is doing a $50 off promotion/coupon code for the Ronco 5500 Rotisserie Oven for people who “like”them on Facebook during the month of August. Click the image above to check out their Facebook page.
Removing the Chicken
After the timer bell went off, we allowed the chicken, now a golden brown, to cool for about ten minutes. Removing the chicken on the spit from the oven was easy. First I reached in and grabbed the spit rods, and moved the chicken to the rest position, and from there to a plate.
The timing suggestions were perfect. Beautifully browned, the chicken was moist, juicy and tender, and one of the best I’ve ever enjoyed. Later, we ended up carving the whole chicken and used the remaining meat in sandwiches and a pasta dish.
Clean up & Storage
Clean up can be somewhat labor intensive unless you use aluminum foil. The oven door easily pops out for cleaning.
Storage is a consideration. The unit weighs 15 pounds and stands nearly 14 inches high and 18 inches wide, with a depth of about 15 inches. The unit retail price on their website for this init is $199.99, plus $38.80, shipping and handling.
Just out of curiosity, I read about 40 reviews on Amazon. The vast majority were positive (4 out of 5 stars). Some people claimed to have owned a Showtime Rotisserie for years.
I give it a big thumbs up. Not only does the Showtime Rotisserie cook meat perfectly, it’s also fun to use, and with proper care, a Showtime Rotisserie should last for years, as others have claimed.