Tips for Rotisserie Cooking on the Grill

Tips for Rotisserie Cooking on the Grill

Most of the time, grilling is just an easy way to cook without making a mess in the kitchen. But when grilling becomes an artform, it’s an opportunity to try new recipes and techniques in pursuit of something really special. Rotisserie cooking on the grill roasts juicier, self-basted and slow-roasted meat on a spit by rotating it continually over indirect heat.

How do I use a rotisserie on my grill? 

First, you’ll need a rotisserie kit attachment that fits your grill. Consider also adding a rotisserie burner to the back of the fire box to extend the heating range and cook your food faster. They're electric powered, so you'll need a heavy-duty extension cord and a properly grounded outlet.

Rotisseries are most often designed for use with gas grills, although attachments are available for charcoal kettle grills and fire pits.

Since rotisserie meats are large, they can get very close to the heat. Place a drip pan under the food to avoid flare-ups and to keep the direct heat at a safe distance. When cooking with charcoal, build the fire around the outer edges with no coals directly underneath the food. You’ll probably need to add more coals every 30 minutes or so. Once you've seasoned the meat, preheat your gas grill to 500°F. Place the rotisserie rod, loaded with the meat, on the grill for about 10 minutes over high heat to sear the outside. Then, turn the grill down to 350°F and grill until the internal temperature reaches your desired doneness.

Balance meat before cooking.

The most important thing about rotisserie grilling is balance and security. When selecting meats for the rotisserie, look for meats that are symmetrical from end to end for proper balance on the rod. Position the meat at the center of the skewer. Slide the forked prongs together on either side and lock them in place. You may need to adjust the prongs as the meat cooks and becomes less firm. For whole birds, use butcher twine to tie down the wings and legs tightly. Any parts that are hanging loose will flop around as it turns, throwing off the balance and burning the loose parts.

When grilling rotisserie-roasted pork, ham, beef and lamb, skewer the roast lengthwise through the longest part of the meat. Slide it to the center and clamp it down tight with the rotisserie forks. Make sure the meat is firmly secured.

To prepare whole poultry for rotisserie grilling, cross the drumsticks and tie them together with butcher twine. Then, tie the wings down against the body with a string across the first joint and all the way around the back of the chicken. Run the spit rod through the breast cavity, parallel to the backbone and out through the opening at the tail bone. Center the bird and attach the forks on the spit rod to the breast and tail areas. Be sure the forks press tightly to hold the chicken firmly.

Once the food is secured to the skewer, roll the skewer in the palms of your hands to test for balance. It should turn easily. If you have a heavy side, the spit is unbalanced. Unbalanced meat will put stress on the rotisserie motor and disrupt the continual rotation resulting in unevenly cooked food. Adjust until it rolls smoothly between your palms. Take the time to properly position food on the rotisserie and roll the skewer around in your hands before putting it over the flames.

How long does rotisserie grilling take? 

Use recommended cooking times as a guideline. Differences in wind, air temperature and equipment can affect cooking times. Cooking times also depend on the size of the cut you’re cooking. Always use a thermometer to decide when meat is fully cooked. Stop the rotisserie motor about 15 to 20 minutes before the estimated cook time to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.

What can I cook on my rotisserie grill? 

You can rotisserie grill so many foods, including leg of lamb, whole turkeys, chickens and Cornish game hens, fruits and vegetables, ham and kabobs. You can even cook multiple foods at the same time. How many depends on the size of the food and the length of the rotisserie rod.

Is a grill rotisserie worth it? 

A rotisserie attachment for your grill makes cooking large things easier and gives you lots of opportunity to try all kinds of different recipes. Large cuts of meat like pork and beef roasts, leg of lamb and whole chickens, turkeys and pigs cook evenly over a longer period of time. Rotating your food allows it to cook more evenly and stay juicier.

Cooking food on a rotisserie doesn't require the level of attention needed for grilling and roasting. Because the meat is being rotated continually, it bastes itself and most of the juices are retained. You can add flavor by basting the outside, but you don't have to.

At what temperature do I rotisserie grill?

Medium-temp indirect heat is generally used with rotisseries, around 275 to 350°F. The burners directly under your meat are kept low or off with an adjacent burner powered on to create an indirect heat zone. When grilling with charcoal, arrange your coals on one side or around the outer edges with none under the food.

Always use a drip pan. 

Place an aluminum pan with water in the bottom directly under the food. Not only will it reduce flareups, it will also catch drippings for gravy. You can add vegetables to the water, allowing the drippings to flavor them. Or fill the drip pan with wine, beer or fruit juice to infuse more flavor into your food.

Keep the lid closed.

When the lid is open, your food is only being cooked on the bottom because heat is escaping out the top. Keeping the lid shut keeps the heat inside to cook your food from all sides with convective heat.

Let your meat rest.

As with most cooking methods, letting your meat rest after it's done cooking keeps meat tender and juicy. Always allow meat to rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute, making slicing and carving easier too.

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