GREEK LAMB ON A SPIT
I found this on the Global Gourmet web site a long time ago. This is a tradition in Greece for Orthodox Easter. In addition, many Greek churches in the U.S. prepare these for their outdoor marketplaces and celebrations. This is not for the faint-hearted, but give it a try and have patience!

1 lamb, skinned and gutted
Butter
Olive oil
2-3 lemons
Salt and Pepper

Wash the lamb well and drain. Salt and pepper the inside of the lamb. Pass the spit through it so that the backbone is parallel to it. Tie it to the spit with thin wire or thick string so that is does not stir while you are roasting it. Tie the legs securely to the spit, sewing up the stomach cavity with some thick threads so that it will not open during the roasting time . Baste the lamb with butter and lemon juice and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat the charcoal and allow the fire to settle. Place the spit in position. Have close at hand a bowl of lemon juice and some olive oil and a basting brush and once the rotation has begun, start to baste the lamb often with the lemon juice and olive oil. You must rotate the lamb fast at first and then slow down as the meat starts to cook. Baste till the lamb is done and the skin is crisp.
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On Easter Sunday Morning, the fire is started at about 7.00 am to ensure that the wood is reduced to glowing embers by the time the roasting starts. The lamb or goat, having been properly cleaned, is rubbed with lemon all over his skin and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme both outside and inside. Then the souvla, the long round iron stick, having also been properly cleaned and rubbed with lemon, is passed through the animal from one end and out through the head. The back feet are secured by passing one through the muscle of the other and are then tied with wire. It is also recommanded to tie with wire the spine of the lamb on the spit.

Two iron poles with forked ends are inserted in the earth by the fire. At the beggining of the roasting session the lamb is at about 60-70 cm from the fire. Later the poles are lowered so the meat rests at a distance of 30-40 cm from the fire.

The long iron spit ends in a handle and members of the family take it in turns to sit and turn it almost continually (Now there are machines doing that for us!). While the meat is cooking they brush on a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano.

A lamb roasted like this takes about 4 hours or less, presuming that it is of the desirable weight of 5 kgr maximum. It is vital that the lamb cooks very slowly, even if it takes longer than three hours. A clear indication that it is nearly cooked is when the flesh shrinks away from the bones. Please note that the fleshy parts (legs and shoulders) take longer to cook, so they draw most of the glowing embers to the two ends, making two small piles of them under the fleshy parts which gives those parts the extra heat they require, while the thin body is cooking at a slower speed.

Serve with a lot of fresh season salad, taramosalata, melitzanosalata and Scarlet Easter Eggs.


Copyright 2004 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved