How To Use A Rotisserie This Thanksgiving

Viking Grill Turkey RotisserieIt is interesting that so few self proclaimed backyard chefs have experimented with rotisserie style cooking. It is the most basic of all grilling methods, and can be traced back thousands of years. Spits were originally used to rotate meat and poultry so that they would cook evenly; in the old days the spits were turned by hand. Today we have the wonderful invention of the rotisserie that allows us to effortlessly evenly roast meat in our own backyard. Many grills, such as the Freestanding Lynx Grill with Rotisserie and ProSear, even come standard with a rotisserie attachment

Because of the constant rotation, meals cooks on a rotisserie, come off the grill wonderfully moist and tender. By rotating the meat methodically a large amount of the juices that would normally be lost to the coals are retained by the meat. There are three main steps to cooking the perfect rotisserie meal. The first is to prepare the meat or poultry for the rotisserie. The second step is to balance the rotisserie. The third step is the most difficult, Patience.

Step 1 Preparing the Meat

When choosing a cut of beef for the grill it is important to choose a cut that is symmetrical and smooth. A Tenderloin Roast or Prime Rib Roast will work wonderfully on a rotisserie right out of the packaging. They are mostly round and don’t have protruding edges. Other cuts can be used on a rotisserie, but need a little preparation first. The key is to shave off the jagged edges and make the roast as smooth as possible.

Poultry is wonderful when grilled on a rotisserie, but it must be properly trussed before placing it on the spit. Trussing pulls and holds the wings and legs of the bird snuggly against the body; this helps the bird to roast evenly, and provides the proper balance necessary for rotisserie cooking.

Step 2 Balance the Spit

Balancing the spit really requires two steps. The first step in balancing the spit is to place the roast or poultry on the rotisserie rod as centrally located as possible. This is most easily done by laying the meat on a cutting board and running the rod lengthwise through the meat. Once the meat is on the rod, secure it snuggly with the end forks so that is will not rotate on the rod, or move side to side.

The next step is to apply a counterbalance if necessary. After the roast or poultry is securely attached to the rotisserie rod, place it on the grill without attaching the motor. The heaviest part will rotate to the bottom. If the rod rotates freely without any hesitation, then it is ready to grill. If the heavy part rolls to the bottom, then place a counterweight on the handle pointing upwards. It may take a couple of tries to find the correctly weighted counter weight, but when you do the spit will rotate without hesitation. Now it is ready for the motor and flame.

Step 3 Patience

Grilling with a rotisserie is much different than grilling on a grate. Be sure to use indirect heat. Direct heat will eventually lead to flare ups and burnt meat. I would recommend using a medium-low to medium heat for most roasts and poultry. By cooking it low and slow the protein is given a longer window to break down. The low and slow method requires patience, but it also brings great rewards.

After the meat is cooked to your preferred internal temperature let it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes. This is three times longer than the recommended rest time for a steak, or chicken breast. I know that it is tempting to cut right in for a tasty bite, but waiting will allow the juices to redistribute and be retained when the roast or bird is carved and served.

By properly preparing a roast or poultry for the rotisserie, ensuring proper balance, and cooking low and slow you will be rewarded with a delicious meal.


Derrick Sharp is a Barbecue enthusiast with over a decade of grilling experience who owns and writes for the Backyard Grilling & Outdoor Living Blog. He has spent the past two years designing and building his own built in Brazilian Churrasco style brick barbecue grill. Derrick has published extensively online and is a platinum level author at EzineArticles.

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