Rotisserie Whole Lamb on a Spit

Discussion in 'Lamb' started by msuiceman, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. I know its not "smoked" really, but I am hosting orthodox easter, and bought a whole lamb roaster (think big rotisserie/small open air pig roaster). The lamb has been reserved and will be between 20-25lbs after slaughter/gutting.

    Anyone ever do this before with some pointers? Just want to ensure I don't screw this one up, and that it has nice salty crispy skin, yet moist, flavorful meat.

    Thinking of stuffing cloves into the meat under the skin, rubbing with olive oil and some rosemary on the oilside with salt. Lemons, oregano, and parsley stuffed in the cavity, which will be closed via stainless wire.

    Am I off-base? Any tips?

  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Steve, morning.... All the spices and seasonings sound perfect...   Rub it all over with the oil and stuff....  I'm not too sure about this but I don't think lamb has skin left on it.... I think they remove it with the wool and you end up with meat all around...  Maybe a fat layer, which is good... Low temps like 200-225 would be good to cook it... It will take a several hours to get her cooked through...    Dave

    Don't forget the Q-Views...... 
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have not tried this but I have seen it done, Greek Uncle in NY, and this is very similar to his procedure...JJ

    This recipe for spit-roasted lamb has been submitted by Ted Christou, a Greek-American who has spit-roasted a whole lamb at Easter for more than 20 years.

    Together with his family, Ted has perfected the technique for tender-roasting a lamb stuffed with herbs and wine-soaked bread that will definitely be the highlight of any traditional Easter gathering.

    For more information, and to see step-by-step instructions with photos see How to Roast a Whole Lamb on a Spit.

    Prep Time: 1 hour

    Cook Time: 5 hours

    Total Time: 6 hours

    Yield: 25 - 30 servings


    • 1 20-30 lb. lamb, dressed (plan on approx. a lb. per person)
    • 3 bags charcoal briquettes
    • 1 bag hard wood
    • Long wire tongs
    • Rotisserie spit
    • 10 lemons
    • 4 heads of garlic (1 slivered, 3 peeled and sliced)
    • 2 cups olive oil
    • 1 bottle red wine
    • Sea salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 4-5 bunches each fresh parsley, rosemary and basil
    • Dried oregano, rosemary, and parsley
    • 1 bottle Balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
    • 1 - 2 loaves sliced white bread
    • You will also need:
    • Cotton twine
    • A large eyed needle
    • Instant read meat thermometer
    • Curved surgical clamp or small needle nosed pliers
    • Paring knife
    • Plastic Trash bags
    • Disinfecting wipes
    • Paper towels


    Begin by lighting 1 bag of charcoal in the center of the spit. Coals will become red hot in about 30 minutes.

    While the coals are heating, prepare the basting mixture. Juice 8 lemons and add juice to a large bowl. Set aside.

    To the bowl of a food processor or blender add 1/2 of the fresh rosemary, parsley, basil, and 2 heads of garlic. Process until the ingredients form a paste.

    Using a whisk, mix the herb paste into the fresh lemon juice. To the bowl add 1 cup wine, 1 cup olive oil and the bottle of balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. This will be the basting sauce.

    Submerge the remaining fresh herbs in the basting sauce and set aside.

    Line a table or large work surface with the plastic trash bags.

    Place the lamb on its side on the table. Slice the remaining 2 lemons in half and use the halves to rub lamb with lemon inside and out. (Used Lemon rinds will go in the lamb for roasting). Brush one side with olive oil.

    Liberally season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried oregano, rosemary, and parsley.

    Using the tip of the paring knife, make small incisions every few inches in the skin and insert slices of slivered garlic.

    Flip the lamb over to the other side and repeat the process.

    Brush the inside of the lamb with olive oil and season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Skewer and secure the lamb on the spit. (Using two "U" clamps or passing two wires around the skewer and exiting the back of the lamb prevents the lamb from spinning during turning.)

    Fill the cavity of the lamb with the marinated herbs (save a few rosemary sprigs for basting), remaining garlic, and squeezed lemon rinds. Stuff the cavity with bread slices.

    Pour the remaining wine over the bread slices and stitch the cavity closed with twine.

    Wash hands well and use disinfecting wipes to wipe down all surfaces, seasoning bottles, etc.

    Distribute the coals under the lamb so that there are four piles, two on either side of the lamb at the shoulders and hind legs. Two thirds of the coals should be distributed by the hind quarters.

    Place the lamb at the level closest to the coals. Turn on the rotisserie. Tie a slip knot and allow the twine to wrap itself around the skewer binding the lamb tightly to the skewer. Secure with a knot and cook at this level for 30 minutes.

    After 30 minutes, raise the lamb to a higher level and begin basting every 15 minutes so that the skin always appears moist.

    Add charcoal 6 - 8 briquettes at a time to each pile throughout the cooking process. Ignite the hardwoods and then place smoking wood under the lamb in a grill area where there is no charcoal. Try to keep a steady stream of smoke.

    To determine whether you need to add more coals you can gauge the temperature of the coals by holding hand over the coals at the level of the lamb and counting 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand, etc. You should be able to count to at least 6-one thousand before you need to add more coals but not more than 8-one thousand.

    The lamb can be lowered back down toward the coals after about 3 hours of roasting or when a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees F (63 C). The total grilling time should be 4 - 5 hours.

    Remove lamb from coals when leg/shoulder meat temperature registers 170 degrees F (77 C). If you prefer your lamb medium rare, you can remove the lamb at 155 degrees F (68 C). Allow the lamb to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

    Here is a link with Pictures to follow...
  5. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dave &Chef JJ have it covered but my contribution is this.There is no actual skin but what we used to call the "shine" when I was back on the farm.Goes lovely & crisp due to the surface fat. Salt helps.

    Last time I did one I put a slice of garlic,bit of lemon peel,sprig of rosemary in holes I made with a boning knife. all over lamb.

    The only thing I can add to the method Chef JJ posted which is a brilliant overview, is this.

    I make up a swatch of herbs like a witches broom,big bunch of parsley as centre piece ,add oregano/cilantro whatever. I use this as my basting brush,herbs bruise as you hit lamb with it.Baste is up to you but lemon garlic,EVO,CBP  white wine great place to start. Just put it in suitable container dunk swatch in it & away you go.Nice bit of theatre as well.
  6. thanks for the tips. i can't wait. ordered the lamb (and got what I consider a darn good deal), to be picked up the day before. 25lbs dressed. don't think i'm going to do the kokoretsi thing, and i'm probably going to have them remove the head and cook that separately (I don't want to put off the children).

    Yum yum, I think lamb is my favorite meat of all.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  7. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Nice size,no head probably safe way to go.[​IMG]Good luck.
  8. marteenhook

    marteenhook Newbie

    This recipe sounds great Chef JimmyJ. I really happy to know about the recipe, I would like to try this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.
  9. skully

    skully Meat Mopper

    i do one for sure, sometimes 2 a year and its similar to yours chef jimmy j, honestly, the simpler the process the better.  obtain lamb from source, wash thoroughly with tap water and allow to hang/dry overnight in root cellar, rub hands well with salted butter and then start massaging the lamb all over, use table salt and salt liberally all over over, a little more on the shoulders and the hinds but carefull not to over salt the rib/neck sections and on the spit she goes.  have salted butter in a heat proof container with a nice silicone brush near the spit on a slow melt for basting from time to time.  thats it.  my brother will squirt some beer when im not looking but i normally dont add anymore moisture, turn till the shoulders and hinds start to fall from away from each other.  leave the head on for sure by the way, its delicious and the four legged family members have a nibble too.  either way, its all good.  just my variation of the process. 
  10. Lucky YOU!

    Having been blessed to celebrate and eat this in Greece, along with a whole roasted goat - and having devoured the head, the eyes, the kokoretsi and all; I remember much basting, and a lovely crispness on that "shine layer," and you are just in for one lovely and epic feast! 

    Enjoy!!! Your original posting of selected herbs was what I am familiar with too except the cloves.

    It all sounds spectacular! 

    Steeneeyasu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Leah
  11. madhatter

    madhatter Newbie

    I do a 55# lamb every year.  Here's how it's done

    1) if you want rub some lemon juice inside the lamb

    2) olive oil and garlic salt on the outside

    3) if you can find squeeze Parkay, use that to base every hour or so

    4) make sure lamb is secured to the spit

    5) 55# lamb takes 5-6 hours, depending on wind and temperature

    6) use lump charcoal for best results

    follow these directions

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