Spit roasting is one of the oldest and most universal ways of cooking known to mankind. The Spit Roast practice has been in existence for about 8,000 years; for the record there are claims that the art of spit roasting actually has been existence for a lot longer than that. The cooking process basically centres around the following primary items: meat, skewers and hot coals.
Spit roasting is basically a form of indirect grilling and it’s usually carried out at a medium to low heat. Animals that are fatty and have a cylindrical shape such as pigs, goats, chickens and lambs are ideal for spit roasting. Vegetables like onions, cabbages and capsicums are also perfect for spit roasting.
Why the Spit Roast is the Best
- The slow rotation of the meat on the spit helps the caramelisation of the meat protein.
- As the meat fat and juices are extracted from the flesh, they re-circulate all over the meat assisting to intensify the flavour.
- With spit roasting the food is cooked evenly.
- The slow and gentle kind of cooking through spit roasting yields a tender and more succulent meat.
- Spit roasting can be done over a camp fire – charcoal, wood or gas.
How to Spit Roast
The practice of spit roasting may have been in existence over a hundred years ago but it is still done with the same approach. The reason for it is that spit roasting is satisfying as well as being a supremely elemental way to cook a meal. Here are the ways to spit roast:
Spit Roasting with Charcoal
- The amount of charcoal required in spit roasting varies on the amount of meat you are cooking. 1kg of charcoal is generally good for each kilogram of meat.
- Do not add all the charcoal all at once. Start by adding two thirds of the charcoal and gradually add the remainder. If your spit roasting a 20kg lamb, use 13kgs of charcoal and the remaining 7kgs of charcoal will be added progressively until the lamb is fully cooked.
- Place the charcoal at the middle and spread it as long as the length of the meat.
- Do not pour flammable materials such as fuels and oils to the charcoal, it will cause an explosion. Use fire lighters or charcoal fire starter.
- Once the charcoal is producing heat spread it and ensure that the flame is not directly under the meat. Ideally it should just be around the meat. Prevent the meat fat from dripping directly onto the coals, it will more than likely cause a flare up and eventually burn the meat.
- Balance your spit meat correctly and turn the skewer by hand without swinging down and dropping to the heavier side. If you find difficulties in balancing the load, you can use a counter weight to assist with balance.
- Do not leave the food unattended. Check it at regular intervals and add charcoal immediately once it has cooled down.
- The cooking time varies on the type of meat and the size of meat you are cooking.
Approximate Cooking Times for the Various Meats:
Lamb – 1 hour per kg
Pork – 1 hour and 20 minutes per kg
Beef – 40 minutes per kg
Whole Chicken – 1 to 2 hours (Depending on the size)
Spit-Roasting on a Gas Grill
These are the things needed in spit roasting on a gas grill:
– Meat (pork, lamb, whole chicken, beef)
– Herbs and spices, butcher’s twine, aluminium foil drip pan
– Meat thermometer, grill mitts
Steps in Spit Roasting
- Preheat the grill to high.
- Prepare the meat rub it with your choice of herbs and spices.
- Place the meat on the spit and tie it with a butcher’s twine to keep them intact when cooking.
- Reduce the heat to low.
- Place the aluminium foil drip pan at the bottom grate of the grill and pour 2cm of water into it. The pan will catch the melted fat from the meat and the stream from the water will further the taste of the meat as it cooks.
- Place the meat in the centre of the spit rod and secure.
- Turn the rotisserie on, close the door and let it cook for 40 minutes per kg of meat. The internal temperature of meat should reach 70 degrees C.
- Do not leave it unattended. Check it regularly or at least every 30 minutes.
- Remove it carefully using grill mitts and let the meat rest for about 10 to 20 minutes prior to cutting it.
Meat Core Temperature Guide:
63 degrees for rare beef and lamb
67 degrees is cooked in all kinds of meat
72 degrees is well done
Wood Fired Spit Roasting
Cooking using wood has a lot of advantages. It simply makes the food more flavourful and the smell is aromatic.
- Use a well-seasoned wood. Oak tree is a fantastic roasting wood and you can add fruit woods such as cherry and pecan. Avoid using hardwood since it has the tendency to burn hotter and longer.
- Assemble the woods correctly. Foundation logs should be spaced apart from each other.
- You can use old newspaper in starting the fire and add some light kindling. Assemble additional wood layers, at least 3 layers of wood fire is recommended. Light it and allow the fire breath for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, place the spit meat on the centre and avoid closer contact with the flames.
- Pay attention to the meat, it should not roast rapidly and may result in the outside getting hard and burning. In the situation that this occurs the heat cannot penetrate the interior.
- Add wood gradually until the meat is fully cooked.
- Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Tips for the Perfect Spit Roast
- You can use charcoal, wood fire and even gas oven to make a spit roast. It is important to place the meat at the centre of the spit to cook evenly.
- It’s important to marinate the meat first before roasting it. You can make your own marinade to baste the meat as it cooks. Use herbs and spices and gourmet salts that you personally like.
- Take it slow. Spit roasting is a type of slow You have to allow the meat to cook slowly over an extended period of time.
- Use a meat thermometer when determining if the meat is cooked adequately. This will ensure you that the meat has been cooked thoroughly.
- Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes prior to serving it. This will help the flavour and juices to develop.
Do you have any tips to share in regards to spit roasting?
image thanks to Mr TinDC
Roasted food is very comforting to many people because it reminds them of home cooking. A great way to make all your guests feel at ease is to provide them with simple yet great roasted food. You can offer a variety of proteins, such as chicken, pork, and roast beef, making it easy to satisfy many people. Roasted vegetables can also be quite delicious for vegetarian or vegan guests. Roast buffet catering may not be as hard to find as you may think, and it is definitely a great option to consider for any event.