Many people believe that spit roasting, also referred to as rotisserie, is among the oldest methods of ingestion. Spit roasters operate by roasting meat on a long pole, also called a spit, that’s slowly rotating at a constant speed over a heat source such as charcoal.
Spit roasting, even though a slow method, ensures that the meat is cooked evenly. The continuous rotation forces the beef to baste itself using its own juices, making juicy and tender outcome, whereas the sexy charcoal gives the food a crisp surface and smoky flavour.
Outdoor spit roasts are perfect for backyard parties and when entertaining large numbers of people. The spit roaster acts as a party centrepiece, a talking point for many of your guests. It also gives everyone something to look forward to, as the entire place is wrapped by the glorious sight and odour of smoky roasted meat. Whole lambs, pigs and chicken are normally cooked using a rotisserie, but smaller prime cuts, kebabs, vegetables and fish are also great spit roasted.
Roasting with a rotisserie is a no-stress approach to cook decent meals, but it’s also very easy to mess up. By following these simple tips and techniques to perfecting the fine art of spit roasting.
I typically use charcoal instead of gas and briquettes for spit roasting to give my meat that distinctly smoky flavour. Gas and heat beads are nice, but the tastes are significantly different. A blindfolded connoisseur can tell the difference between charcoal-roasted ones and meat roasted with gasoline or briquettes.
The quantity of charcoal required will be based on the total amount of meat to be roasted. As a rule of thumb, use 1 kg of charcoal to every kilogram of meat.
A common rookie mistake is incorporating all of the charcoal at once. Don’t do this, as you will need to replenish the spent charcoal during the spit roasting process. Just mild around 70 percent of the charcoal and apply the excess for when you need to add more. For example, spit leaves a 10 kg pig will require 7 kg of charcoal in the beginning. Utilize the remaining 3 kg to add more as the fire begins to dwindle.
Light the charcoal at least 30 to 45 minutes before placing the spit over the fire. When there is a great charcoal fire going, spread it around, making sure to pile the charcoal around the meat. Leave some area in the middle for the drip pan.
Prepare the food
Truss poultry like chicken, turkey and squab with butcher’s twine to hold the wings and legs in place. Do not use cotton twine as it will burn and leave behind ugly burn marks and also an undesirable taste. Properly trussed poultry prevents the wings and legs from turning to close to the charcoal, ensures even cooking and preserves its shape.
Beef tenderloin and boneless roasts must be rolled and attached to form an evenly shaped cylinder.
Balance the spit
It is vital that you correctly place and balance the spit meat or else you risk damage to the roaster motor. An unbalanced skewer won’t turn easily and the meat won’t cook evenly.
Check the spit roaster from time to time while it is cooking. The meat may shrink, requiring a few adjustments. Be certain to turn the spit roaster off before re-adjusting the meat.
Use a pan for dripping
Put a metal or aluminium pan with a little bit of water directly beneath the meat. The drip pan is very important since it collects burning juices and fats which might give rise to a flare-up or kill the flame.
The pan helps reduce the direct heat that may burn the outdoors too fast, while the water adds moisture to the roasting food. You can even collect the delicious drippings to make gravy or sauce.
Control the heat
Don’t put the meat too near the charcoal. Too close and the spit-roasted meat will burn on the outside. Make sure the meat is put 15cm in the charcoal and that you be able to maintain your hand between the meat and the heat for 10 seconds.
If you take off your hand before 10 seconds is up, it means the heat is too high and you’d have to adjust the elevation. On the flip side, if you can hold your hands for over 10 seconds, you need to set your meat closer to the charcoal.
Basting the meat ensures it doesn’t dry out while cooking. Don’t hesitate to use your own baste recipe as long as it doesn’t have an excessive amount of oil. Baste each hour or so.
Let the meat rest
After the spit roast is done, don’t be in a rush to stick a knife on the meat immediately. Let the meat rest for 10 to 20 minutes after cooking to enable the juices to redistribute and making sure that the meat is moist and juicy all throughout.