WHY NOT TRY: Cooking a spit roast?

Spit roaster extraordinaire Michael Hanney (left) and Chris Calcino fly blind into the world of rotisserie cuisine. Photo Tez Iannelli
Spit roaster extraordinaire Michael Hanney (left) and Chris Calcino fly blind into the world of rotisserie cuisine. Photo Tez Iannelli Tez Iannelli

I FELT hard done by, devoid of crown and sceptre, a distinct lack of satin-waving dancers in sight and not even a court jester intermittently belting his skull with a plank of wood for my royal amusement.

But at least a couple of slabs of slowly rotating meat were on hand to pique my regal interest.

This week a band of likely buffoons and I tried our hand at that bastion of medieval feasts, the spit roast.

Totally inexperienced and more than a little intimidated, we nevertheless spiked a chunk of pork and a healthy wedge of lamb and fired up the coals.

We picked up some tips along the way.

Use a mound of charcoal to get that authentic, smoky flavour, topping up the fire pit throughout the process.

The meat should be hovering about 15cm above the coals.

A meat thermometer is essential but we were not so organised. We survived but I suggest you research the finer details and definitely use a meat thermometer long enough to reach the centre of the largest piece of meat.

Just as important is the marinade - ours was a simple mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic with the occasional wipe of a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Pork should be cooked for about 80 minutes a kilo, lamb gets about an hour per kilogram. But the thermometer is your best guide.

The end result: tender, juicy meat, falling off the bone and a mob of proud but inebriated backyard chefs.

It was also a smidgen embarrassing in retrospect.

My post-roast research revealed Frenchman Christian Falco spit-roasted a 550kg camel for 15 hours in Morocco in 2007, using 2.7 tonnes of wood and 15 litres of oil.

He has held the world record for spit-roasting a 985.5kg piece of beef.

The World Health Organisation might have something to say about that effort.

Next time we will go the whole hog, pop an apple in a suckling pig's gob and don velvet hats, elaborate fur coats and brocaded silk pantaloons to really get into the kingly mindset.

But I don't think we can beat a camel.


Topics:  cooking

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