Whole lamb BBQ on a spit is a traditional way to celebrate Greek Easter. But we think it’s an impressive way to do a backyard BBQ whatever the day. So how do you spit roast a 40 pound lamb for your Holiday BBQ feast? I turned to my friends Pete Stamatis and Nick Hatsus MD and they walk you through the process in this video.
When I asked the guys about filming their cook I actually had thought I missed the opportunity ( I remembered after my Easter holiday). However the Greek Orthodox church celebrates the holiday later- so I was actually right on time. The Orthodox Church continues to follow the Julian calendar when calculating the date of Easter and there is a thirteen-day difference between the two calendars, the Julian calendar being thirteen days behind the Gregorian.
First step is to find a whole lamb and (like a hog) in this Walmart world you might have to search around for a local butcher. The internet is another option where I saw prices of $5.50 a pound hanging weight. Plus expect a $75 processing charge or delivery. Expect $275 to $350 for a 40 to 50 pound lamb. You’ll also need to store it cold until you are ready to cook (something to consider).
Then secure your spit roaster. Spitjack is the most popular vendor for roasting tools like these. They are located in Easthampton, MA and if you can’t get to their store you can get almost everything for the same price here. Their model CXB55 Lamb, Goat, & Whole Hog Rotisserie handles lamb and any beast up to 55 pounds or so.
Otherwise, you can rent one from a local all-purpose renter such as Taylor Rental. It’ll cost $75 to $100 for the day.
Seasoning on the lamb is done before and during the spit roast (with a baste). After the lamb is on the spit securely the chef will coat the lamb inside and out with lemon, olive oil and a rub of oregano, salt, pepper, rosemary and parsley. Recipe below.
Hardwood lump charcaol is preferred and once the coals are covered in a fine white ash set your lamb and spit across the cooking area. Keep the lamb approximately three feet above the hot coals. During the cook slowly lower, incrementally, the animal closer to the coals – not lower than a foot and a half from the flames. Baste the skin of the lamb occasionally during the cook with a combination of the rub, oil and lemon juice.
For one chef online with a 37 pound lamb. Cook time was 5 hr 20 mins.—and used 55 lbs Kingsford briquettes.
The lamb in the video was 40 pounds and took over 4 hours. The pit in the video is half closed – with a back to the spit – and that will be faster than a spit that’s open on both sides. Plus weather, type of fuel and wind will play a factor.
Hogs are traditionally cooked to a pull apart temperature of almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit. With lamb it should be cooked to your liking however you’ll want to hit internal temp of 150 to 160 Fahrenheit (in the thickest part of the thigh. The joints will loosen dramatically when you’re close. Use a meat thermometer to be sure and then remove from the roasting area and let it rest on the carving table for 10 to 20 minutes before carving.