[Spit-Project] Some further conclusions about open fire cooking

Helen Schultz meisterin02 at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 23 08:58:24 PDT 2007

  After thinking much about your post-Pennsic report of your cooking escapades, I looked through a book I purchased from Poison Pen Press on early American open-hearth cooking.  This book had a short chapter on spinning meats (duck, chicken, lamb, etc.).  It also had a very informative long chapter on how to lay your fire correctly (albit, in a hearth rather than outside, but I think they might be done similarly).   By the way, Gunthar, I got a couple nice photos of you starting your spinning chicken and roast... I'll post them to the Yahoo Group, along with ones of my leg of lamb I did earlier in the first week. 
  The book is: "The Open-Hearth Cookbook; Recapturing the Flavor of Early America," by Suzanne Goldenson, with Doris Simpson.  ISBN: 0-911469-26-5.  Published in 1982 by Alan C. Hood & Co., Inc., Chambersburg, PA.
  They recommend hanging the meat to be spun with regular kitchen twine about 5" or so IN FRONT of the fire (not over it). They also recommend turning the meat 90 degrees when it is about 1/2 to 3/4 done, to cook the ends. They say it is important to have a drip pan under said meat (which I usually do for most meats), and to baste the meat with the drippings from time to time "...when you remember to do it."  A reflector is mentioned, saying it will make the meat cook faster, but is not absolutely essential to the cooking process, as a whole.
  The fire, as they they explained it, should be good enough to cook said meat with just two healthy armloads of wood (for about 2 hours of cooking in a fireplace hearth... I would guess a bit more would be needed for a less enclosed space).  It is recommended to start by laying two green chunks of wood as "andirons," as it will burn slower than dry wood would (and can be replaced if they do burndown).  Then, lay four pieces of dry wood on at 90 degrees to the "andiron" pieces, with kindling and paper to get the fire roaring quickly.  Add another "andiron" piece if you want a longer fire base.   Be sure there is sufficient air space between all the parallel wood, so the fire can burn properly and give you a great coal base with which to cook. [Now, I have always had problems with getting my coals hot enough before putting the meat on to cook... this surely does help me to figure it out.]
  Anyway, this book appears to be full of all sorts of good things... there is even a nice recipe section, with a couple spitted meats listed.


  Meisterin Katarina Helene von Schönborn, OL 
  Shire of Narrental (Peru, Indiana) http://narrental.home.comcast.net 
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