7. Special Setups

Serves: 5



The world of grilling is so varied, it would take volumes to describe all the different configurations. Here are a few special setups you can use to do global grilling in your backyard.

Rotisserie Cooking

Spit roasting, also known as rotisserie grilling, has fallen somewhat out of fashion. When I was a kid, everyone in the neighborhood had a rotisserie attachment for their grill. Most grill manufacturers still make these attachments, and I’m not sure why people don’t use them more. Perhaps in this burger-and-chicken-breast era, we’re too hurried for the time it takes to spit- roast a chicken or leg of lamb.

This is a shame, because nothing can beat the gentle, even heat and internal basting that comes with spit roasting. Spit roasting combines the charring properties of direct grilling with the gently penetrating heat of indirect cooking. The rotating motion bastes the meat with the melting fat. These virtues are not lost on the French or the Brazilians, who have made the rotisserie the focal point of their grilling.

Rotisserie grilling is particularly well suited to chicken, game hens, and ducks, not to mention cylindrical roasts like pork loins and boneless rib roasts. I know a pit man in Uruguay who cooks garlic rolls on the rotisserie. In Paris, I’ve seen cooks grill spareribs, lamb shanks, and whole lambs and suckling pigs on the spit.

You can prepare rotisseried foods on either a charcoal or a gas grill. When buying a rotisserie attachment, look for a motor with an on-off switch (adjustable speeds are nice, too) and a long enough cord to reach the available outlet. Be sure the device comes with a mounting bracket that will fit on your grill.

The spit itself should have adjustable prongs for holding the food in place. Another nice feature is a counterweight, which helps reduce the strain on the motor.

To set up a charcoal grill, build a fire. When the coals are hot, rake them into two parallel rows, one about 4 inches in front of where the spit will turn and one about 4 inches behind where the spit will turn. Place a drip pan in the center, between the rows of coals. Skewer the food on the spit and turn on the motor. Add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side every hour.

To rotisserie on a gas grill, you need a grill with multiple burners arranged front to back. To set up a gas grill, preheat the front and rear burners to high. Leave the center burner off. Place a drip pan on the grilling grate in the center. Skewer the food on the spit, and turn on the motor. Note that when setting up a gas grill, you might have to put the drip pan under the grate because the rotisserie attachment sits so low. Fancier gas grills usually have built-in drip pans, eliminating the need for this step.

Cooking Satés

The saté is probably the most perfect morsel ever devised by a grill buff. This bite-size kebab on a small bamboo skewer is wildly popular all across Southeast Asia. Japan’s yakitori and teriyaki are kissing cousins of saté.

There’s only one remotely challenging aspect to cooking a saté. Because bamboo is flammable, you must figure out a way that allows you to cook the meat without burning the skewer. There are two ways to accomplish this. You can soak the skewers in a pan of cold water to cover for 1 hour before using them. Or use a grill that is just wide enough to expose the meat, but not the skewer, to the flames. Specially designed for this purpose are saté grills, long, narrow metal boxes that are quite tiny and portable. Variations turn up from Jakarta to Kyoto and Kuala Lumpur. (I bought one in Jakarta that’s 12 inches long and 3 inches wide and was fashioned from a large tin can.)

A Japanese-style hibachi is the closest thing to a saté grill available in North America, and it works quite well for cooking satés. You simply rake the coals right to the edge of the hibachi and place the satés on the grill with the exposed ends of the skewers hanging over the edges.

To cook satés on a larger charcoal grill, bank the coals on one side of the grill. Place the satés on the grate with the exposed ends of the skewers extending away from the coals. Or arrange the satés at the edge of the grate so that the exposed handle parts of the skewers hang over the side of the grill.

To cook satés on a gas grill, light only half the grill. Place the satés over the lit section with the skewers extending over the unlit section. Or arrange the satés at the edge of the grate so that the exposed parts of the skewers hang over the side of the grill.

If the skewers start to burn despite these efforts, simply protect them with strips of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

This 7. Special Setups recipe is from the The Barbecue Bible Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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