Have the butcher remove the
head and insides of the lamb, but don’t discard them as they
can be used for the Easter
soup - Magiritsa.
Wash the carcass under running
water and drain well. Lay it out on a large clean surface. Rub
it all down with the lemon halves, squeezing the juice out as
you go along. Sprinkle it, inside and out with salt, pepper,
cumin, oregano and rosemary. At this point, I recommend
wrapping it up and refrigerating it over night for the meat to
absorb the spices or at least let it stand at room temperature
for a few hours.
Attach the carcass to the spit.
You will have to spear through its rear end and come up
through the neck, so the length of it is stretched out along
the spit. Tie the legs, neck and forearms down tight. I use a
fine grade aluminum wire that is available at hardware stores
and pliers. You have to get the meat secured on the spit so
that it turns evenly, without slipping while cooking. I also
pass some wire through the body cavity and out the back of the
meat at the spine and tie it to the spit from there as well,
making it that much more secure. Make it tight – remember as
it cooks, it will shrink. When you are finished securing it,
use more wire and ‘sew’ up the cavity.
Pouring some oil into your
hands, rub the entire carcass so it is coated. This will help
seal in the juices as well as give you a crispy outer crust.
Place the spit over the coals.
You want to roast it slowly over low heat, for maybe 3 or 4
hours. Remember lamb is best when it’s medium cooked. If you
have an electric spit, great. If you have a hand turned one,
make sure that you keep the cook in plenty of Ouzo for the
Now here is a Greek Village
trick. If you can get fresh basil, cut off a large branch or
some stems at least 6 inches long as you want a nice bunch.
Tie them securely to a long barbecue fork using butchers cord
or wire. You will use this as your basting ‘Brush’. If you
can’t find fresh basil sprigs, use some dried leaves in the
In a bowl, mix the oil, salt
and pepper, cumin, oregano, and rosemary – and dry basil if
you’re using it. Using the ‘Basil Brush’ or just a plain one,
brush this oil-marinade over the meat as it roasts. Obviously,
the more you do this, the better the meat. Replace the basil
sprigs if needed as they get worn.
Check on the thickest part of
the meat for doneness – I pierce the thigh. When it’s cooked,
remove it from the spit. Remove all the wire and cut into
serving size pieces. Serve it immediately.
I can’t tell you what a difference the fresh basil makes. If
at all possible, get yourself some, even if it’s a potted
plant, as the ‘Basil Brush’ can be used when barbecuing any
kind of meat or poultry.