Spitrosting – the final try
July 31, 2010
It is my firm belief that those spits that had been found and can be argued to be roasting spits were mainly used for smaller pieces of meat, such as fowl and innards. For larger pieces one would have to use something larger and more robust. From medieval manuscripts there are some imagery depicting spit-roasted suckling pigs and similar slightly larger meats. In these instances the chef rather seem to be using larger spits, of which some look to simply be a long thick pointed wooden pole.
For this dish/attempt I was going to spit-roast a full leg of lamb. I made some incisions along the leg, which I larded with bacon, alpine leek, thyme and occasionally some angelica. The leg was then propped unto the spit. As it was rather difficult to fix it to the spit I had to use several wooden skewers in order to make it move with the spit – at least to some extent. For basting/glazing I planned to use a mixture of honey and ground mustard seeds.
The spit was propped up on some stones, in order to raise it high enough for it to turn properly. Underneath the smaller soapstone vessel was put in order to collect the drippings.
This particular day was extremely windy and the flames almost licked the leg of the lamb lying beside the actual fire. The heat probably influenced the result and times, why they cannot really be trusted. After a rather sort while the surface started to brown and a nice caramelised smell emanated from the leg. Though it was difficult to turn and to lift of the fire I still managed to both turn and baste the leg, I noticed that it was getting rather unevenly roasted. After one hour one side was a bit to charred the other had a nice red colour on the surface. As suspected though, it proved to be far from finished once I made a probatory cut into the meat. Though the outer layer was nicely roasted the inner most parts was till raw. I therefore returned the meat to the fire, though I decided to place it a bit further away from the heat, in order to give it a bit more even heat.
At about this time the wind started picking up speed and soon things were moving about quite a bit. As the meat had spent another half an hour on the spit I noticed how more and more embers started to escape the fire pit looking for freedom on the lawn in front of the longhouse. In order to not having to add “burnt down the longhouse in Borg” to my CV I decided to abort the experiment at that point and let the fire burn down.
The meat was a bit more ready, but still almost raw by the bone, and though I quite like my meat red this was still a bit to uncooked for me. The outer part was quite nicely cooked, and almost half way through the meatier parts the meat had a nice red colour. The meat tasted quite good and no real addition of salt apart from the pieces of bacon by which it was larded was needed. In order to salvage the rest of the meat I cooked the remains as a roast in the oven upon returning home.
The conclusion of this experiment would be that while a spit could possibly produce a rather nice product, it was rather unwieldly and the spit did not really seem suited for such an endeavour, if meat of this size were indeed spit-roasted I would still assume that they would have used spits of a somewhat different design.