Little secrets for a successful Easter lamb on a spit!
The roasting on a spit of a lamb at Easter is one of the oldest Greek traditions with roots even in ancient Greece – The small and big secrets to a perfect roast!
Easter, this great celebration of Christianity, is celebrated in a special way in every corner of the country and especially in certain regions revive customs and traditions that give a particular “color” to the festive period.
The “burning of Judas”, the Alogodromies [horse races], the Avgomachies [“egg fight”, the cracking of the eggs], the representation of the Descent of the Crucified and the Resurrection ceremony at cemeteries are just some of the traditions that go on in towns and villages.
The roasting on a spit of a lamb at Easter is one of the oldest Greek traditions with roots even in ancient Greece. The heroic turn of the lamb on the spit is eminently a custom of Roumeli and the Peloponnese, but has however been adopted in other locations, and is the main Easter custom.
The preparation procedure was known to the ancient Greeks before five thousand years!
Originally, when they roasted on a spit, there were no brushes with lemon and oil dressing, so they used a branch of pine with juice of unripe grapes and unripe plum to smear the meat and give it a special flavor of fruits and resin. To prepare kokoretsi [intestines] they marinaded them in vinegar, water and honey. The vinegar worked as an antiseptic and dehydrated the gut of many fats and the honey created a caramelized crust. The official names of ancient Greek was “knitted” for the intestines and “gardoumio” for the gardoumpes.
Proper preparation of roasting lamb on the Sunday of Easter is key for a good Easter table and starts the evening of Holy Saturday.
Wash the animal (lamb or goat) internally and externally and put salt and pepper. Then, insert the spit from the tail side and push to get it out of the center of the head. Make sure the rotisserie fork fits securely in the legs of the animal. Tie back the legs onto the spit with wire. To close the abdomen use metal cleats.
A more traditional way is to stitch the belly with a bodkin and a fireproof string or thin wire. Then, wrap the animal with a large cloth to avoid contact with insects; secure upright with the tip of the spit in a pan and leave overnight to drain.
The roasting starts early in the morning of Easter Sunday, then to cook the lamb on the spit takes around 3-4 hours. The amount of coal that is needed is proportional to the weight of the animal. Thus, for 12 kilos of lamb or goat you will need 12 kilos of charcoal. Apply the grafts in the back of the animal and put it in the fire. Initially, we turn quickly to avoid burning.
If this happens, quench the fire. When the fire slowly goes down, turn the lamb slower. At this point, lower the height of the spit. The fire should be stronger in the legs and head, because these animal parts are more difficult to bake. If you drop fat on the grill and lit a flame, put it out with metal tweezers, or put salt on it.
During baking brush the animal with lemon and oil dressing. Also, add plenty of salt and pepper. You can put some garlic cloves into small cracks made in the thighs.