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Nicko, Easter's coming!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My husband and I are toying with the idea of spit roasting a lamb. We know nothing at all. We don't have the equipment or the know how.

What kind of spit do you have?
Where can I find some info on placing the lamb on the spit?
How big should the lamb be for 10-12 people?
How long does it take to cook?
What do you put in the cavity?

Loved your pictures, can't wait to try it for ourselves.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 14
Well thanks for considering me a resource! :)

Size & Cooking Time
--------------------
10-12 people you will not need more than a 30 pound lamb. It takes about 1 hour per 10 lbs so around 3 hours. Typically I like to get a 40-45 pound pig or lamb it seems to be just about the right size for a large group 40-50 people.

Seasoning
---------
Needs nothing more than salt, pepper lemon and Greek oregano.

Recommended spit
------------------
For the money you can beat XL MANUFACTURING (2717 W Lawrence Ave Chicago,IL (773) 271 -8900) spit. It is made by a Greek man and the cost is very reasonable (350.00 when I bought mine). I would also recommend you get the rear cooking shield which helps keep heat in. You can spend a ton of money on a very fancy spit but don't. Not unless you are planning on doing a lot of spit roasting. For an occassional spit roast lamb or pig this is an excellent spit. This most this spit can handle is around 60-65 pounds. Go any higher and you run the risk of breaking your spit bar and burning out your moter. Sadly I know from experience trying to roast a 110 # (no I did not buy it a family member did) that the spit will give out.

To tell you the truth I really think it is a complete waste of time to roast any animal bigger than 45 pounds. First you will be spit roasting all day with a 75 pounder you are looking at 8 hours. So get up at 2 in the morning mount the pig on the spit and have fun. Not my idea of fun but for others it is. Also you will need a very large amount of charcoal.

If you have a lot of people to feed I suggest actually roasting two animals at the same time. Again this is my personal preference after doing this many times.

What you will need
---------------------

Here is a list of what you will need:
  • Spit
  • Aluminum foil (heavy duty) to line the bottom of the spit
  • Real charcoal (don't get briquettes they just don't throw the same heat)
  • Heavy duty gloves (2 pair) for moving the spit
  • Extension cord to plug in motor
  • Heavy Duty Zip Ties (Heaviest they make) Use these to secure the legs to the spit
  • Butcher's twine (to sew the belly)
  • Butcher's needle (to sew the belly up (can get this online or at a cutlery shop))
  • Wire cutters - to cut twist ties off
  • Chef's knife to carve
  • Butcher's cleaver to hack threw bones easily
  • Heavy duty 4 foot table (use this to work with the pig and cut it when it is done)
  • Two heavy duty cardboard boxes (lay these flat on the table when your ready to cut the pig. The card board absorbs the juices and protects the table while you cut. Also the pig doesn't slide around).
  • Surgical gloves - These keep your hands from getting super greasy while cutting the pig
  • Bowl of ice water. When cutting the pig it will be very hot and you can dip your hands into the cold water to keep them from getting burned and also allow you to work with the pig longer.
  • Good Thermomter - to check the temp of course
  • Charcoal chimmeny (optional but makes getting the coals quick and easy and no chemical starters needed)

You can make slits in the pig and insert garlic if you like I do this and it is very nice. When I roast a pig there is enough fat to cook potatoes underneath the pig in the drip channel. Simply par-boil (cook half way) (I usually quarter idaho russets and start them in cold water and then bring them to a boil then pull them off the flame) and then toss in olive oil, lemon, fresh garlic cloves, salt and pepper and place these underneath the pig in the drip channel. See my online photos in the photo gallery).

Oddly enough lamb does not have as much fat as the pig so you don't get as many drippings.


Lastly don't forget the following, a few faithful friends to help, chilled ouzo, chilled retsina, and some good Greek music in the background. Helps pass the time much easier.


Hope that helps.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
That really does help Nicko, and it's written in terms I understand. I especially appreciate the list of things we will need, very helpful.

About the spit - I've seen some small ones sold here at greek specialty stores that will probably accommodate a 30-35lb lamb. I don't know if they're the kind you suggested but my feeling is that trying to order one now would be difficult and may not come on time.

Does it really only take about 3 hours? Cooked through or slightly undercooked, you know greeks here will want it kreespy, kalopsimeno, and kaloalatismeno. I thought it'd be more than that, I have memories of waking up at the crack of dawn for the prep.

Does one end of the lamb cook faster than the other? I think I heard something about that. Your potatoes are probably the best right? Keeping the foil there doesn't interfere with the cooking process? It looks like you have it there all throughout the cooking.

Thanks again! I hope my husband decides he's up for it, we wouldn't want to screw up Easter.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #4 of 14
If you can send me a photo of the spit your thinking of. Should be fine I would imagine.

In regards to cooking, you put more coals toward the hind legs since the take longer to cook. A good spit like the one I have has three different levels to cook the meat which make it easy to crisp the skin. The last hour you should cook on the bottom rung of the spit if it has that. You should also get your coals very very hot for the last half hour - forty five minutes to crisp the skin.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #5 of 14
I didn't want to jump in here until Nicko had a chance to answer.

The industry standard for whole animal rotisseries are Spit Jack and E-Z Que (you can google). They aren't cheap -- but if this is something you're going to do fairly often, it's worth the investment.

It's much easier to spit-roast an animal in a spit basket than just on forks. It solves the balance problems and keeps the animal from falling apart as it cooks. Of course you can simply balance and truss if you're old fashioned (like me).

There are innumerable fabricators in the NYC area who will build you a grill and mount an appropriate rotisserie. What you want is a grill wide enough for a lamb, but narrow enough so it can be spanned by long skewers -- so it can be built with grooves to hold the skewers. You also want custom fit cooking grates so the grill can be used with grates and open at the same time. Your best bet is to find a fabricator from the ethnic community. They already know what you want better than you do. I used to have one of these -- a gift from a group of Armenian clients. Nicko's guy is, no doubt, a great fabricator from the Chi area. But why have it shipped 1000 miles? There are tons of guys that do these things.

Speaking of keeping it ethnic -- RPM might be able to hook you up with some eastern European fabricators. Very similar cuisines. Remember, whole animal + grill on a grate + kabab.

Perhaps more realistically, there are people who will rent you pig roasters (more than big enough to do a small lamb). It's probably too late for this year.

If you buy from an ethnic market, you'll pay top dollar for minimal quality. But c'est la vie. You don't have much time and you probably already bought.

Timing depends not only on the size of the lamb, but on the nature of the fire and the distance from the spit. In other words, the heat at the surface. Different pits cook at different speeds. So do different pitmasters.

Nicko was right about using hardwood lump charcoal. The best fire is hardwood coals -- build a fire with oak fireplace logs in a Weber Kettle, and when it burns down to coals (around 45 minutes), shovel them into the rotisserie pit. Keep the fire going for fresh coals to rejuvenate the pit. But keeping two fires going is probably way overkill in terms PITA. Good hardwood lump is good enough.

Friends don't let friends use Kingsford briquettes. I repeat: Hardwood lump charcoal. Cowboy isn't the best brand by any means, but it's a lot better than briquette. Personally, I prefer mesquite. Other than Cowboy, which is a national brand, I can't give you brand names available in the NY area.

Whether you have a Weber or not, the fireplace log thing is a great way to get those first coals going. Real wood coals will throw up a lot of good tasting smoke and your lamb will taste real old country. You can also toss soaked grape cuttings on a charcoal fire. Spears of rosemary. Whole heads of garlic. Any or all of them will add a lot of good smoke.

Don't start your fire with lighter fluid. Invest in a chimney, some fatwood. Best is a weed burner if you have one.

Good luck,
BDL
post #6 of 14
You will have to forgive me but "The industry standard" says who? It is a nice spit for sure but it is not something most home cooks can afford and personally for a 30 pound lamb at easter for family it is over kill.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well I've sent Dad and hubby out spit shopping today. They are required to follow all leads and drive to wherever to get one, unless of course they don't find one at this late stage of the game.

35 lbs will probably feed up to 20 people you think?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #8 of 14
Nicko, I agree, In fact, the purpose of my post was to suggest having a roti/grill fabbed locally -- as both you and I had done. I probably should have written that Spit Jack and EZE Que weren't cheap and you should only consider them if rwhole animal rotisserie was something you'd do fairly often.

Oh. Wait. I did. Look at the second sentence of the two-sentence, second paragraph.

Sorry to be unclear,
BDL
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
The spit has been gotten. On to acquiring the lamb.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #10 of 14
BDL I read what you wrote just fine.

I will ask again:

What industry and who's standard?
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #11 of 14
Industry: Whole animal rotisseries.

Standard: They're two of very few brands that are sold nationally. Both directly, locally (through a number of B&M retailers), and through "national" e-tailers. If you do a web search, you won't see many other whole animal rotiesseries. Both companies have outstanding reputations through their product lines in the worlds of barbecue and catering -- and I have some familiarty with each of those worlds. Both get outstanding reviews, to the extent such products are reviewed. Both companies supply rods, spits and motors to custom grill and barbecue builders.

Because they do have such a pervasive online presence and because they do have such good reputations, I thought it worthwhile to mention them to give some perspective.

Why do you want to make this an issue? You must have a point, but I'm missing it.

BDL
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Easy does it now! Let's not make this into something it's not.

Now the real question. How do I keep everyone from picking at the lamb crackling near the end?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #13 of 14
>How do I keep everyone from picking at the lamb crackling near the end? <

Hey! If we can't be picking at it as it turns on the spit, I ain't coming. I mean, what's the point otherwise? Surely you don't expect us to wait until it's off the spit and carved up. :lol:
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
I noticed there are some drains in the bottom of the pit. We're placing the whole thing ontop of large cardboard and then putting a small bucket under the middle hole to catch any drips. We're lining the whole thing with heavy duty foil. There are also some tiny holes near the edges where the coals are placed. ARe these for draining also or should I cover then with foil too?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
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