Cooking meat by slowly rotating it while suspended over hot coals is ancient method commonly used throughout all societies and regions. A mechanical rotisserie device fitted to a modern barbecue or griller delivers an even and slow roast.
This is just perfect for cooking large pieces of meat such as beef, lamb, chicken or pork. The smoke from the coals, and the way the fat in the meat moves and keeps it moist and tender provides the unique taste that everyone loves.
However you can achieve the same result, without the fancy mechanical equipment, using simple skewers and long pronged forks for smaller cuts of meat. Pork is one type of meat that is well suited to being cooked using a rotisserie, both mechanical and manual.
Like all cooking methods it pays to discover the best tips from the experts are get the best ever recipes to ensure you get perfectly roasted pork.
This article summarises all the latest tips and recipes for grilling and barbecuing pork pieces of a rotisserie.
The following tips provide a guide to cooking pork on a rotisserie:
Controlling the heat is one of the most difficult things to do, mostly because the fat from the meat drips into the fire and creates flames that can quickly get out of hand and burn the meat. You need to be prepared for this as it will happen almost every time. You cannot really prevent it, so be prepared for it to happen. There are four ways to deal with this:
Start the fire early and get a vigorous fire going with a strong flame. The idea is to burn the fire until the flames have died down and all that is left is the hot coals. It is a good ideal to move the hot coals to one end of the barbecue, so that there is a hot and warm part that you can use to control the rate of cooking by moving between them.
When you're ready to cook, add a little extra fuel to create some flames. This can be done using small pieces of wood or fresh charcoal. But remember that once the fat starts to drop this will feed the flames. So it is important to just add a small amount of extra fuel, that will burn down quickly. Learning to create the perfect fire for a rotisserie takes practice, so don't expect to master it straight away.
If you use charcoal, start with about 1 kilogram (2 lb) of charcoal per kilogram of meat (2 lb), depending on the size of the barbecue. Keep about 1/4 of the charcoal to be added once the fire has died down to hot coals. This used to create some flames when you first add the meat. Generally a charcoal fire needs to be burning for about 45 minutes before you can start cooking. Wood fires with large pieces of wood may take 60 minutes, smaller pieces of wood about 30 minutes. The cooking should be over hot coals with tiny flames.
There is no exact way of determining this as it is almost certain that you will have to move the meat up and down during the cooking and the fire builds when the fat hits it or the fire looses heat when the meat is almost cooked. You need a system that allows you to adjust the height.
A good rule of thumb to use as a guide: 8 seconds rule. Put you hand at a certain height over the fire. It you can't keep your hand at that position for eight seconds, the position is too hot and you need to put the meat higher above the coals. If you can hold you hand in the position for more than 10 seconds, the spot is not hot enough and you need to find a lower point.
The motor used for most modern rotisseries rotates at about five turns a minute. Some can be adjusted. About 3-5 turns a minute is best for most cuts of meat.
If you are using a manual rotisserie you should aim to turn the meat once every minute.
The rotation times can be varied depending on how hot the fire is and how high the meat is positioned.
It is essential to season the meat well, before and during, the cooking time especially when cooking larger pieces. Don't leave the seasoning until after the meat is cooked. Adding salt and pepper during the cooking adds and enhances the flavor of the pork.
The flavors of garlic, herbs, cloves and spices need to penetrate right into the pork and they need to be inserted in tiny cuts and inserted deep into the flesh of the meat. For certain cuts of meat a stuffing really adds a lot of flavor to the meat from the inside to the outside.
Many pork pieces need to be tied and well secured for a rotisserie. It is important that pieces don't dangle down and that the meat has an even thickness. Many butchers will truss the piece of pork for you, or give you advice on how to do it. The trussing needs to be very tight and involves materials that will not burn easily.
Most good quality rotisseries have systems for adjusting the heights, or allow the meat to be shifted up or down when being cooked. This is essential to control the temperature. Remember that you can also adjust the temperature by spreading the coals out or heaping them up to generate more heat.
Cooking times will vary a lot depending on the size and cut of pork being roasted. A good tough roasting thermometer is essential for determining when the inside of the pork is cooked. Always, rest the meat for a minimum of least 15 - 20 minutes before serving.
For the Stuffing
Gently fry the garlic and onion in a small pan with some rice bran oil (or olive oil) until golden and soft. Set aside to cool. Add the lemon zest, herbs, fennel and the spices. Then add the liver and mince and liver. Mix to combine well. Open up the pork leg and position it flat on a board with the flesh side facing down. Using a sharp knife, score the skin by making series of long cuts. Then flip the meat over so that it is skin-side down. Squash the pork down as much as possible. Season well with pepper and salt and pepper. Next spread the mince, onion and herb mix across the meat to form an even layer. Then tightly roll up the pork with the skin on the outside and truss well and very tightly. Remember that the pork will shrink as it is being cooked and you don't want it falling apart.
Slide a rotisserie skewer into the trussed pork. Position the pork at a height where you can just keep your hand there for about 8 seconds, before it feels too hot.
Cook slowly on the rotisserie for 1 - 1.5 hours until the pork is cooled in the center. Test with a roasting thermometer. Aim for a minimum temperature of 155 degrees F (68 degrees C) right in the center of the meat. If in doubt keep cooking for an extra few degrees. Rest the cooked pork for 10-20 minutes before serving.