Old 06-17-2008, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: tartu, estonia
Posts: 1
Default custom wood fired spit roasting

I have just got a steel fabricator to custom make me a wood fired spit roast/grill with a lid and i would like all the feed back i can get from people who have cooked with wood grills. Ie the heat intensity and tricks to avoid embarrasment... i have cooked with gas fired spit roasts but wanted to go fully traditional with the whole thing and just use wood.
the heat source is below the spit chamber obviously and has two funnels that lets the heat through into the chamber ciculating the meat, like a home made convection oven its about 1.5 metres in diameter and will hold up to 50kg on the bar.... its for a festival next month so very enthusiastic to get tips on do and donts with wood etc and cooking temps.
all advise, criticism and otherwise accepted.
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Old 06-17-2008, 09:52 AM
james's Avatar
Brick Oven Merchant
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pebble Beach, CA
Posts: 4,648
Default Re: custom wood fired spit roasting

Ciao Simon,

This sounds exciting. Do you have any photos?

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Old 06-17-2008, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Nottingham
Posts: 66
Default Re: custom wood fired spit roasting


I've used something similar, and there are a couple of tips I can pass on...!

1. if your fire is below the meat, ensure you have a flame guard and a separate drip tray, otherwise the fat in the drip tray just bursts into flames.
2. try using coals from a fire that are already burning, i.e.hot charcoals, rather than fresh wood to replenish the oven, as this limits the smoke

Ours looked like a big steel tent, with an inverted triangle inside to stop heat directly hitting the meat. I'll try ASCII art, as I'm in the office and don't have CAD !!
/ \
/ @ \
/ \---/ \

Fire where the xxx is, piggy where the @ is....

It met an untimely end when run over with a tractor....


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Old 06-17-2008, 03:41 PM
CajunKnight's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South Louisiana
Posts: 263
Default Re: custom wood fired spit roasting

Best advise I can give.

Use well seasoned wood.
Use in small amounts.
Pay attention to temp gauge at upper stack / vent (215 degrees F is optimum temp at that point)
Leave upper vent open full and use bottom vent to adjust airflow for heat control.
Burn a couple or more fires and try it out before you ever put any meat in.
Small to medium fires work wonders.

In spit-roasting like most other forms of cooking, the length of time the meat must cook depends on a number of factors: the size of the carcass; the heat of the fire; prevailing wind and weather conditions; and not least, the ability of the chef to control fire and beast. . See the chart for approximate cooking times depending on the size of your beast.

When your carcass has been cooking for the suggested amount of time, insert an instant read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the hind leg. A pig should register about 170 F, and lamb about 140 F, to be done. If you don’t have a thermometer pierce the thickest part of the carcass with a skewer or knife. The juices should run clear, without any trace of pink.
BE WARNED, it is important that the carcass does not roast too rapidly at the beginning. This will result in the outside becoming hard, preventing the heat from penetrating to the interior. So, start off slowly (kindling fire no starter fluid) and gradually turn the heat up. I put carcass in a cold spit and start fire at that time very small. Once the outside of the carcass starts to brown the pores close and less smoke flavor will be obtained.

Approximate cook times and amounts of charcoal if you decide to go that route. If you use charcoal start small batch out6side of grill and add after it is fully burning. Then add charcoal after that.
65 (lbs) carcass
120 (bs) Charcoal
6-7 hours

75 (lbs) carcass
140 (bs) Charcoal
7-8 hours

100 (lbs) carcass
160 (bs) Charcoal
8-9 hours

125 (lbs) carcass
180 (bs) Charcoal
9-10 hours

Real wood: Have at least 1/4 cord (well seasoned wood) on hand and use it slowly(no scary WFO fires LOL). Oak is a good roasting wood and adding some fruit wood in beginning and during is a plus. My personal favorites are cherry and pecan.

Best of luck and let us know how it works.
Post pics when you get time.
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste
like chicken...

My 44" oven in progress...

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Old 06-17-2008, 06:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 76
Default Re: custom wood fired spit roasting

Im just using my bbq as a spit roaster. The lid has hole cutouts so the rod can sit in place whilst the lid is down (keeping the moisture in).

A fixed motor and rod holder will be placed next the bbq and i have a custom ash/coal tray they will hold all the hot coals. I bascially remove the plates/grill and sit the coal tray ontop of the burners then get a few hot coals from the WFO and spread them along the coal tray.

Once i place the animal in i turn the motor on and close the lid. The lid has a thermometer so you can tell if you need more coals etc....

My bbq is big enough to fit a 20kg pig (which is more than enough for me).
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