Rotisserie is a style of roasting where meat is skewered on a spit - a long solid rod used to hold food while it is being cooked over a fire in a fireplace or over a campfire, or roasted in an oven. This method is generally used for cooking large joints of meat or entire animals, such as pigs, turkeys, goats or historically, entire cattle. The rotation cooks the meat evenly in its own juices and allows easy access for continuous basting if desired.
In medieval and early modern kitchens, the spit was the preferred way of cooking meat in a large household. A servant, preferably a boy, sat near the spit turning the metal rod slowly and cooking the food; he was known as the "spit boy" or "spit jack". More mechanical means were later invented, first moved by dog-powered treadmill, and then by steam power and mechanical clockwork mechanisms. Spits are now usually driven by electric motors.
Rotisserie can also refer to a mechanical device used for rotisserie cooking, or to a restaurant specializing in spit-roasted meat and chicken. The word comes from French where it first appeared in Paris shops around 1450. Additionally, in restaurants a rotisseur is the chef responsible for all spit-roasted, oven roasted, grilled and in some cases fried foods.
In this style of rotisserie, balance is important. If the object to be cooked is far out of balance, it will impose a heavy load on the drive mechanism or cause the mechanism to fail to turn. Loose chicken legs or wings can also cause the mechanism to jam. For these two reasons, some skewering skill is required.
High-end consumer ovens commonly come with a rotisserie (or allow the installation of a rotisserie as an option). In these cases, the motor drive mechanism is usually concealed within the oven. The rotisserie is used by removing the normal cooking racks; a special carrier may be needed to provide one or both bearing points for the spit.
A dish that is usually cooked on horizontal rotisserie is:
Some dishes that are commonly cooked on a vertical rotisserie include: