Open fire spit roasting is an easy reliable way of delivering deep, slow cooked caramelised flavours whilst retaining the moistness and delicacy of the produce.

As the spit hypnotically turns so do the internal cooking juices and basting oils ensuring perfect fire cooked food with minimal effort.

A Guide to Open Fire Spit Roasting

Spit roasting has a rich culinary heritage in Britain going back thousands of years. Done right it is and extremely reliant way of turning out delicious fire roasted food with minimal intervention or effort. Thankfully things have evolved so you no longer require a slave to laboriously turn your dinner as it cooks and motor powered rotisseries are the standard for exploring this delightful means of fire feasting.

Spit Roast Setup

#1 The Fire

Build a moderate sized fire, hardwoods like oak, ash, cherry, beech are perfect as they produce long lasting embers and produce a steady heat. 2-3 armfuls should suffice. The following guide will be ideal for multiple chicken or large pork roast.

Tip: make sure the fire is about 1/3 wider than your food load, this will ensure an even cook along the spit and reduce any chances of uneven cooking.

Spit Roasting Guide #1
Spit Roasting Guide #2

#2 Position

Select spit location, for any foods that require more than an hour indirect heat is best, to achieve this position the spit just to the side of the fire- this way we will be roasting and not grilling. Position ideally a medium heat distance (able to hold hand there 3-4 seconds comfortably) from the fire. Set the support rods by gently tapping them into the ground using a log or mallet to a minimum depth of 10cm, go deeper if soft sand.

Tip: Set the motor mounting support leg slightly lower (1-2cm) than the other leg to ensure the skewer naturally rests into the motor socket when turning.

Ensure support rods are set well.

Though metal cased, the battery motor should not get too hot or be in direct flame, we recommend the motor is set just upwind of the fire.

Tip: If you feel your motor is getting too hot try wrapping tin foil around it to further reflect the heat.

#3 Load Balance

Load your spit ensuring the food load is well balanced around the skewer center (reduces motor load and more even finish of cooking). Consider trussing with string any birds to maintain an even shape. Clamp food using included spit forks.

Tip: a light tighten with pliers will ensure forks stay in place.

Spit Roasting Guide #3
Spit Roasting Guide #4

#4 Spit Roast

Insert loaded skewer through both eyes of the support rod ensuring square cut end goes in the motor socket. Turn on using switch on back of motor. Baste at will, a well set Spit Roast is very easy to maintain.

Explore various basting flavours. Bastes can consist of melted butter with herbs and garlic, spiced chilli cooking oils, or even if you are roasting some lamb try a brine baste by mixing water and salt. We will add a baste section to FireChef site soon.

Caution: The spit and meat forks will get hot during cooking so handle with care.

Spit Roasting Heat Guide

Times given are a rough guide to cooking temperature and based on a position from the fire you can comfortably hold your hand.

Firemark 2 seconds, high. 210 deg C. Smaller produce, kebabs or delicate foods like rabbit. Constant attention and basting but worth it.

Firemark 3 seconds, medium high. 150 deg C. Occasional basting using butters, stocks or flavoured oils. Medium sized produce like chicken. Pork crackling.

Firemark 4 seconds, Low, 120 deg C. Great for low maintenance roasting. Longer cooking times but super succulent. Perfect for larger items like pork joints and rendering fats.

Firemark 5 seconds, slow & Low, 110 deg C. Great for low maintenance roasting. Longer cooking times but super succulent. Perfect for larger items like pork joints.

Firemark 6+ seconds, this is the realm if whole animal cooking, lamb, pig or venision sized beasts with cooking times of 6 hours+. Whilst far beyond the power of the FireChef Spit Roast there are plenty of mains powered kits and suitable spits our there.

Heat Control

The initial position of your spit is key here, get it right and you will require optimum wood for the burn, too far more wood needed, too close you may burn or require over attention on the baste front. Base the position and Firemark on a well established fire, with good base so you know what kind of heat it provides.

Secondary to position is controlling the fire itself by adding more wood or re-positioning your burning logs. Depending on what you are cooking you may need different heat stages to deliver the perfect roast our guide to Perfect Fire Crackling if roasting pork illustrates this method perfectly.

Wind direction should be taken into account, downwind will be hotter than upwind and more smokey (flavour). If this is your first spit roast we recommend setting upwind easier to work as you become more familiar with your spit roast try various positions around the fire.

Vary heat by controlling the fire size (embers & flame). Additionally the rod legs can be “stepped” where they are inserted to the ground at an angle.

Tip: Use a meat thermometer to ensure food is properly cooked.

FireChef Spit Roasting Kit

Whist this guide covers the FireChef Spit Roast Kit it can be applied to any open fire or fire pit rotisserie cooking. Our standard portable spit roasting kit includes the following:

  • Powerful Geared Battery Rotisserie Motor (5Kg recommended max load, Next Gen silent motor)
  • Whopping 100cm Stainless Steel Spit (Spans most fire pits, rust resistant and will happily acommadate up to 3 whole chickens)
  • 2x65cm Steel Support Legs
  • 2x Stainless Steel Spit Forks with locking screws
  • Rugged Carry Sack

Spit Roast Maintenance and Care

After use wash the spit and spit forks in hot soapy water using an abrasive pad or brush, towel dry, then apply a THIN coating of vegetable oil. Store kit in the rugged kit bag in a dry place until next time the open fire spit roast calls.

The powerful motor has been test rated to 15kg loads, though we recommend 8kg maximum load. Requires two standard D batteries to run, we recommend changing batteries every 30 hours cooking time (depending on cooking load and battery make). Batteries not included.

2 thoughts on “Open Fire Spit Roasting

  1. Chickenlips says:

    I find that a shovel is a really useful tool for controlling the heat on an open fire – removing embers to reduce heat and mounding up embers when more heat is required. You can go the extra mile and have a separate fire for simply to re-fuel your cooking fire.

    • firechef says:

      Great tip, thanks for the feedback. I have a friend who swears by the two fire method- one for cooking and one for drinking!

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