Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Garden Spit Roast - Chapter 5


This pseudo summer with its balmy April evenings has done it for me. Temperatures in the high 20's, with enough humidity to make it feel even warmer has got the whole country doing things normally reserved for the middle of the year. These still evenings have been awash with aromas of back garden barbeques and outdoor chatter.

We'd had a fairly intense weekend entertaining family, so by Easter Monday, chilling out by the charcoal fuelled brazier seemed an ideal option. We took a leisurely walk into town in the morning, had a light brunch at Hacketts in Witney, and bumped into loads of friends on the way. We grabbed a few essentials on the way back and I settled into my seat by the fire for the better part of the late afternoon.

Rotisserie chicken, charcoal baked potatoes and swedes, ratatoullie and garlic bread, all cooked over one decent batch of lumpwood charcoal. My current theme is to do as much as possible with the fire so I'm not forever dashing back and forwards from the kitchen. In this case, everything (except the salads of course) was prepared over one fire.

I piled up about 2.5kg of lumpwood charcoal into my Weber chimney starter and let if take off for a bit whilst I sorted out all the ingredients. This gave me 20 minutes or so to season and skewer the chicken, skewer the spuds and swedes, wrap up the garlic bread and chop up the vegies for the ratatoullie.

Once the charcoal was ready, I spread it around the outside of the brazier so there were no coals directly beneath the chicken. Otherwise the bird would burn and a fat fire would be inevitable. I placed a few rocks in the centre beneath the chicken to absorb the dripping fat and retain some heat.

I was determined not to top up the charcoal but retrospectively I think another 1/2 kilo after the first hour would have sped things up a bit.

RECIPES: (for 4-5)


- 1.5 kg whole chicken
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Mixed dried herbes de Provence

Secure the chicken on to a rotisserie spit, rub with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper and the dried herbs. Cook over the coals for up to two hours always making sure there is enough heat to keep the skin gently sizzling. Once the chicken starts sizzling, the dried herbs will send amazing smells wafting through your garden. Sprinkle on a few extra bits of charcoal from time to time if need be.

After about two hours remove the chicken from the spit and let it rest wrapped in foil before carving into portions.


- 4-5 med/large potatoes

Put the potatoes onto a skewer and place around the edge of the fire, rotating every now and then to keep them cooking evenly. It can easily take up to two hours to get nicely roasted potatoes when cooked this way. You could cheat and put them in a microwave for a couple of minutes to get them started off. This would at least halve the cooking time.


Our summer holidays in France often involved buying the odd rotisserie chicken for supper. Most rotisserie sellers offer 'sauce' with their chickens or meats. This 'sauce' is basically onions and peppers cooking slowly at the bottom of the rotisserie in the fat that drips from the cooking meats. Incredibly tasty. My version was cooked in olive oil in a saucepan directly over the coals.

- 1 red or green pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock
- Mixed dried herbes de Provence
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil

Cook the onions and peppers in the hot oil until soft. Add the garlic and tinned tomatoes. One the sauce is simmering again, add the chicken stock a bit at a time as the liquid evaporates. The 'sauce' should be thick, moist and glossy when served.


- Bread rolls or baguettes cut into portions
- Butter
- Finely chopped garlic
- Mixed dried herbes de provence

Spread a generous dob of butter on each portion of bread, sprinkle over the garlic and herbs, wrap them in foil and sit them around the edges of the fire to warm up gently. Turn them from time to time so they heat up evenly. They shouldn't take more than ten minutes or so depending on how hot the coals are.


- 1/2 swede (rutabaga) cut into 2.5cm cubes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper

Thread the cubes onto a metal skewer, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the skewer around the edge of the fire and turn it frequently until soft all the way through. This will take at least an hour and be careful not to let them burn.

Swedes are brilliant for us low carbers, so I am constantly thinking up new ways to serve them.

This was the first time I had tried this, and next time I will par-boil the cubes for 2-3 minutes before barbequeing them. Cooking them wrapped in foil is another thing I will soon try.

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