7 TIPS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A SPIT ROASTER
To help out my fellow spit roaster enthusiasts, I've put together a list of 7 things to consider before buying a spit roaster. Now lets be honest, if we want to get really technical, there are probably 50 different aspects I could mention about selecting that perfect spit roaster, however to get you started, I have listed what I consider to be the top 7.
1. Do you prefer a charcoal or gas spit roaster?
Both have their pros and cons. Charcoal gives that authentic smoky mouth-watering flavour, but gas is a bit easier. (My theory is that if you are going to cook a roast using gas, you may as well use the oven in your kitchen....but that is a debate for another time!)
2. What size of spit roaster do you need?
The size of your spit roaster is important to get right. There is no point in purchasing a mammoth spit roaster big enough to feed an army if you are only going to be cooking for a small family. If planning on using your spit roaster to cook a whole lamb or pig, the minimum length you should purchase is 1350mm. Anything shorter than that and you will not have room to keep the legs. A lot of spit roasters are 1200mm which isn't long enough to cook a whole animal without cutting off the shanks (the best part!) If you have no intention of cooking a whole animal and are more likely to just cook a couple of small roasts, chickens or gyros on your spit roaster, 750mm will generally suffice as this will allow you to cook 3 roasts or chickens. If you are really short of room and only plan on cooking for a small number of people, you can get away with a 500mm long spit roaster, bearing in mind that you will really only be able to fit 2 chickens or 2 small rolls of meat.
3.How many kilo's of meat will you be cooking on your spit roaster?
Not only is the length of your spit roaster important, you also need to determine the maximum weight you think you will be cooking on the spit roaster so you can purchase a suitable spit roaster motor. There's no point in purchasing a 1400mm length spit roaster to big enough to roast a pig if the motor will only turn 15kgs. This may be ok if you are only roasting a suckling pig, however once you add in the weight of the spit roaster skewer, accessories and any stuffing you may put inside the pig, you'll be amazed how quickly the weight increases.
4. Does the motor supplied with the spit roaster come with a warranty?
While I acknowledge there are still a few people out there selling spit roaster motors made out of old windscreen wipers and washing machine parts, the vast majority of spit roaster motors available online (and most certainly in stores) are factory produced gear driven motors which should come with a 12 month (minimum) warranty. Another question to ask the supplier is whether they undertake any warranty repair work 'in-house' or whether the work is outsourced. You'll find that should you experience any problems with your spit roaster motor, you'll get it back a lot quicker if the warranty work is completed 'in-house' rather than your spit roaster motor being shipped goodness knows where! You'll also be more likely to get your spit roaster motor looked at even after the official warranty period has expired. Given spit roasts aren't something people generally use more than 3-4 times per year, you're best to look for a motor with a 24 month warranty from a reputable Australian based brand. We recommend Flaming Coals motors
5. What type of meat will you be cooking?
The type of meat you intend on cooking will determine what spit roaster accessories you will require. For example, if you are spit roasting chickens or small rolls of meat, you will require small spit roaster prongs where each spike is close to one another and able to be pierced through the meat. Alternatively, if you are using your spit roaster to cook a whole animal, you'll need some large long spit roaster prongs, a back brace to secure the spine of the animal and either some leg brackets or some wire to affix the legs to the skewer. If you are using your spit roaster to cook gyros (that really thinly sliced meat they use in fish and chip shops to make souvlakis) you will ideally have some spit roaster gyros plates. These are thin plates which look like a CD. The benefit of using plates rather than ordinary spit roaster prongs/forks is that gyros is intended to be carved throughout the cooking process rather than all at once at the end, so it helps to carve up against a flat plate rather than flighting your way around the spikes.
So as you can see, there are various spit roaster accessories and attachments available depending on what meat you intend on cooking. There not point of buying a spit roaster that comes with leg holders and large prongs if you're only going to be cooking gyros or chickens!
6. Round or square shaft?
There is some debate about whether you should select a spit roaster which has a square skewer or one which has a round skewer. Now I know a couple of the giant retailers sell medium-large spit roasters that come with square skewers, which is fine for smaller spits, but what I'm about to tell you will convince you why you need a round skewer NOT a square skewer.
Remember what I mentioned before about the various spit roaster accessories/attachments available depending on what you are cooking? Well lets think of an all too common scenario. You buy a spit roaster with a square skewer and that rotisserie comes complete with attachments.....or does it? You unpack it from it's box and realise that it comes with 1 or 2 spit roaster prongs and some weird looking contraption for securing one set of legs. You think to yourself, "how on earth am I going to affix my chickens and lamb roast using these parts big enough to secure a dinosaur....hhhmmmm....that's ok, I will buy additional spit roaster accessories" WRONG. You'll find that the large retailer you originally purchased your spit roaster from do not stock additional spit roaster accessories. Your next logical step would be to GOOGLE online boutique spit roaster stores, but you come across another hurdle.....most spit roaster accessories are designed to fit a round skewer NOT and square skewer. Reminds me of an old age adage, you can't fit a square peg into a round hole! More likely than not, you'll have to get your accessories custom made and I've heard of some companies charging $80 for a set of prongs. Outrageous!
So in summary, you’ll find that it is a lot easier to find accompanying spit roaster accessories for a round skewer than a square skewer.
7. Do you plan on taking your spit roaster away with you?
This will impact on the size, easy of portability and the type of spit roaster motor you select. For example, if you tend to go camping regularly, it would be advantageous to buy a spit roaster which is quick and easy to set up/pack down, is light weight and doesn't take up a lot of room in your car, and if you don't have an inverter, the spit roaster motor will need to be capable of being powered by a battery (either through a 12 volt car battery, or D cell batteries)...unless of course to intend on turning the spit roaster by hand!
Well there you have it, the top 7 things you must consider before buying a spit roaster. Stay tuned for more outdoor cooking tips coming soon