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Spit Roaster Cooking Tips

A handy guide to using your spit roaster

Spit roasters are great for feeding a crowd and impressive to have cooking in your backyard. Spit Roasters self-baste as they turn and product juicy, tender meat. If you have got a new spit roaster, but are unsure of where to start. Take a look at this article for some handy guidelines, hints and tips!

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  • Thread the prong through the meat with the pointed end first.

    Thread the prong through the meat with the pointed end first.

  • The coals need to be in an even layer to achieve an even cook.

    The coals need to be in an even layer to achieve an even cook.

  • Adjust the height of the rod if the meat cooks too quickly.

    Adjust the height of the rod if the meat cooks too quickly.

How to thread meat onto your spit
One end of the rod has a point, gently press this through the centre of your meat. If your meat has been trussed, ensure the string is the correct butcher’s string for cooking, otherwise, it may burn and unravel while roasting. If you are spit roasting a whole pig, thread the pig through the back end first and out through the mouth (a screwdriver may be required to open the mouth). Use the two long prongs to secure the pig from each end, then tighten the neck and leg braces to secure the pig. If more securing is required, stainless steel wire can be used.

How much fuel to use
Try to keep the layer of coal even across the grate. This will ensure your meat cooks evenly. The coals should go under the entire span of the meat rotating on the spit. Don't go higher than two coals deep under the meat.

How often to add more coals
Add more coals as the first burn down. This should be around 1.5 hours. Spread out the old coals underneath and add an even amount of new coals on top in an even layer.

What height to have the meat at
Before putting your meat onto the spit roaster, use your hand to gauge the heat coming off the coals. First hold it at the lowest height the rod can be attached to. If you can't hold your hand there for about 8 seconds, you will need to go to the next level up. Try again at this level. If you don't need to remove your hand, then it’s the right temperature. Remember to check again during the cook after you've added new coals.

How long to cook for?
Once the meat is taken off the spit, it is difficult to get back on, so it is recommended that you use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is cooked properly, When using the meat thermometer, insert the probe carefully and try to avoid touching the rod or bone, as this may give you a false reading. As a general guideline:
Pork – One hour and twenty minutes per kilogram (internal temperature 75°C)
Lamb – One hour per kilogram (internal temperature 65°C Med)
Chicken – Two hours for a large chicken (internal temperature 75-80°C)
Beef – Forty minutes per kilogram (internal temperature 60-65°C Med)

When to use the counterweight The item that requires the most attention in rotisserie cooking is balancing the food. The rotisserie must turn evenly, otherwise, the stopping and starting action will cause the food to cook unevenly and possibly burn the heavier side.
The easiest foods to balance are those of uniform shape and texture. To test if the food is balanced correctly when secured, place the ends of the rotisserie skewer loosely in the palms of your hands. If there is no tendency to roll, give the spit a quarter turn. If it’s still stable give it a final quarter turn. It should rest without turning in each of these positions. It can then be attached to the spit roaster. If the meat does need weight balancing during the cook, you can use the counterweight. Simply loosen off the screw and move the counterweight to balance the rod more effectively.

When spit roasting poultry, truss the bird tightly so that wings and drumsticks are close to the body of the bird. The cavity of the bird may be stuffed prior to this if you wish. Pull the neck skin down and use a small skewer fix to the back of the bird. Push the rotisserie skewer through lengthwise, catching the bird in the fork of the wishbone. Centre the bird and tighten with the holding prongs. Test the balance as described above. If wings finer parts of the bird cook too quickly, cover them with foil.

Managing flare-ups
When cooking the rotisserie meat will render it’s fat. This will drop onto the coals below. Too much fat may mean you will experience a flare-up. To avoid a flare-up, keep an eye on what side the fat drips to, and nudge the coals away.