Sometimes, barbecuing is a means to an end—an easy, aromatic way to cook dinner without heating up the whole cottage. Sometimes, barbecuing is an art—a chance to experiment with new methods and media, in pursuit of the ultimate meaty masterpiece.
Fortunately, a rotisserie attachment for your grill satisfies both requirements, making cooking easier large things easier while allowing you plenty of opportunity to try any number of dishes.
Rotisseries are used most frequently with gas grills, although attachments are available for charcoal kettles and, if you want to get really primitive, fire pits. And get images of a sweaty medieval kitchen boy turning the spits by hand out of your head—these days, rotisseries come with electric motors that keep your dish turning gently while you enjoy a cold drink on your deck chair.
So why bother with a rotisserie in the first place?
Well, it’s one of the best ways to cook large stuff, for one thing. Whether you’re cooking a brisket, a roast of pork, an entire chicken or a pineapple (yes, a pineapple), rotating your food allows it to cook more evenly, stay juicier and finish in less time.
Putting food on a rotisserie also tends to be less work than grilling or roasting. Because the meat is constantly turning, it bastes itself. You can add flavour through extra basting, but you don’t have to obsessively hover with a basting brush.
Now that you’re convinced, here are some tips for getting the most from your rotisserie:
Don’t put the food too close to the burners or coals. Indirect heat is the watchword with rotisseries. Turn down the burners directly under your meat, or pile up the coals to one side. If you’re roasting something that might flop around—like a whole chicken—make sure any loose bits are trussed securely so they don’t get too close to the flame.
Use a drip pan for more than just drips. Yes, you can fill an aluminum pan with water and use it to catch drips and reduce flare-ups. You can also make that drip pan do a delicious double-duty by filling it with vegetables, allowing the drippings to collect, then making gravy out of what’s left when the cooking’s done. Don’t feel like gravy? Fill the drip pan with wine, beer or fruit juice to impart a little extra flavour to your roast.
Make sure your food is secure and the spit is balanced. If the skewer is unbalanced, it won’t turn smoothly and your food won’t cook evenly. Take the time to properly position food on the rotisserie, and roll the skewer around in your hands before putting it on the flame to check the balance.
Keep the lid shut. Don’t let all that lovely heat out—when the lid is open, your stuff is only cooking on the bottom. Keeping the lid shut allows the convection currents to cook your food all over. If you’re cooking over a fire pit, you don’t have a lid—but if you position your food in the middle of the pit with embers around it, you’ll still get the same convection action.
Let your meat rest. This is true of virtually any method of cooking: letting your meat rest for 10-20 minutes after cooking is done will allow the juices to redistribute throughout and make the inside of your cut tender and moist. Skipping this step is a recipe for dry, tough meat.
Ready to rotisserie? Get grilling!