[Sca-cooks] Basting spit roasted meat

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Jan 31 12:07:41 PST 2008

On Jan 31, 2008, at 2:23 PM, Michael Gunter wrote:

> I'm doing some research on just what the drippings of
> spit roasted meats would be.  It is surprising that I'm
> running into such difficulty but I've gone through several
> manuals (Digby, Two 15th Century Cookbooks, Sebrina
> Welserin) and haven't found anything on spit roasting
> beef.  There are detailed instructions on how to roast
> birds and such but very little on roasts and even whole
> pigs or lamb.

I'm pretty sure Markham has fairly detailed instructions on spit- 
roasting. I don't have it in front of me, but I STR he speaks of  
roasting the meat until the fat is running on the outside, and then  
putting fine white breadcrumbs on the fat (not unlike those crusted  
rack of lamb recipes that used to be all the rage in the 90's) to form  
a crust around the meat to keep it moist. He also speaks of using  
different-sized cuts of meat either together or as a shield, one  
against the other, to control heat flow.

Okay, went and got it:

Book Two, "On Cookery",

59. Of roast meats. Observations in roast meats.
60. Spitting of roast meats.
61. Temperature of fire.
62. The complexion of roast meats.
63. The best bastings for meats.
64. The best dredgings.
65. To know when meat is enough.

As Uncle Don used to say on the radio, "That oughtta hold the little  

> I've determined that the term "sewe" in Two 15th Century
> cookbooks means "drippings" as opposed to beef broth
> or stock. I'm still looking for some kind of concrete example
> of what we all seem to "know" about roasted meats.
> The best I've found was in broiling steaks that are basted
> with verjous, wine or vinegar and whatever herbs you want
> but not much better.
> Any sources out there for basting juices for whole roasts
> or what would compromise "sewe" of beef?

There's sewe and there's seme, which sometimes seem to be either  
interchangeable or different animals. I suspect there's a transition  
from stock/broth, to the fat that floats on top of that, to fat in  


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