There are some simple but important considerations in preparing the lamb or goat for the spit. And this should best be done the day before the meat on the spit feels the fire. It is best to rely just on salt and pepper for additional flavouring – the meat will generate flavour from its own fat and juices and there is no need to add anything to that.
It is also important to ensure that you attach the carcass firmly to the spit – you really do not want it coming lose over a burning heap of coals. That is a disaster worse than the sinking of the Titanic.
Remember that the roasting process can take up to four hours –whoever takes part in the roasting must be comfortable and enjoy the occasion – so make sure you have the right chair, music, refreshments and mezethes already set up to keep happy whoever will be turning the spit the following day.
PREPARATIONS THE DAY BEFORE ROASTING:
1 Pass the spit through the legs of the lamb, through the abdomen, chest, neck and finally, the head.
2. The hard part is at the head where you will need a second pair of hands to hold the head firmly as the spit is pass through it.
3 Check the site where the where the roasting will take place to ensure that the position of the spit over the coals will be secure and just right for the cooking process.
4. Start tying the carcass to the spit by beginning with the thighs which must cross over the spit and tie them with a length of clean, strong galvanized tie wire (similar to wire used to tying fences). If your spit has metal forks, secure the thighs on to them.
5. Secure the spine to the spit using something like Shelley mast clamps (used to secure a TV antenna to a pole) or strong wire through the lower back (roughly where the abdomen would be) and also higher up, above the animal’s breast.
6. Secure the neck to the spit with wire.
7. Test the secureness of the bindings by shaking the spit roughly to see if the lamb shows signs of loosening from the spit. Remember as the heat penetrates and the meat starts to cook, the fats will begin to drip out and the lamb/goat will begin to reduce. A loose binding of the carcass at the start will only become looser as the meat begins to cook. Something you must avoid.
8. Generously apply salt and pepper all over. Make incisions on the inside of the thighs and forelegs and add salt and pepper there as well.
9. Sow the belly with a strong thread until it is tightly closed as this will ensure the juices stay within the carcass to add to the flavour and not all drip out on to the coals.
READ MORE: The main event – lamb on the spit
ROASTING ON THE DAY
10. As a rough guide, you will need charcoal of equal weight as the lamb/goat that you have prepared. Start the fire about an hour before you start roasting the meat. First let the charcoal begin reducing (or falling) before putting the spit over them.
11. The signal to start cooking is when you see the charcoal producing ash. Heap most of the coals where the thighs and forelegs of the animal will be, with the least amount of charcoal under where the belly will be.
12. Place the lamb spit about 50cms over the fire. For the first hour or so and depending on the intensity of the heat, the turning of the spit has to be fast, to prevent the meat from burning or cooking unevenly.
13. After the first 90 minutes are over, the turning can be more relaxed. The required cooking time, depending on intensity of the heat and the size and weight of the animal, is anything between 3.5 and four hours.
14. When it is ready place the spit upright over a large baking sheet, cut the wires and unscrew the clamps after you have sure that the lamb will fall only on to the baking sheet or into a large baking tray. Enjoy and “Kalo Pascha!”