Lamb on the Spit (αρνί-στη-σούβλα)

It’s the day after Easter and it’s also the Feast of St. George so my best wishes and “Hronia Polla” go out to all the George’s out there.

I have to admit I’m quite today. Yesterday was a huge success. Toronto basked in a glorious and sunny 20C with little wind. Greek Easter is meant to be enjoyed outdoors with song, dance, food and drink.

I tried my best to photograph food and moments of the day but I did get caught up in the food preparation, good conversations and more wine that I perhaps should have not had.

The “main event” of Greek Easter is the lamb. Our family has been enjoying lamb on the spit for 15 years after enjoying the whole experience at a friend of the family. I was hooked ion the whole experience immediately and I set out to purchase our own “pit” for lamb on the spit.

A friend of our family sold these rotisseries that were special for lamb and Greek Easter. Below you will read how my family enjoys Greek Easter and lamb on the spit.

Lamb on the Spit

1 whole lamb (15-20 lbs)
1 1/2 cup salt

1/3 cup ground pepper

1/2 cup garlic powder

1/2 cup dried oregano
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

5-7 bags (18kg) charcoal,

butcher’s twine
1 long upholstery needle

  1. Ensure the spit (or rod) is cleaned, free of any rust, scoured with steel wool and rinsed of any cleaning agents. Wipe the spit with lemon juice and then treat with vegetable oil.
  2. Either hang or lay your lamb and throughly rinse the the inside and outside of the lamb with water. Allow the water drain away and pat-dry the lamb (this step aids in getting rid of much of the gameyness people associate with lamb).
  3. Place the spit through the lamb (rear to head) and if the head is still on your lamb, pierce the skull to help secure the spit.
  4. Break the hind legs by the bending them backwards and to allow you to tie them easier to the spit. Secure the hind legs very tightly with your butcher’s twine. Repeat this step with the front legs and also securely bind the neck to the spit.
  5. Using your butcher’s twine and an upholstelry needle, make a stitch across the length of the lamb’s spine, looping around the spit. It’s important that the stitch enters the meat near the spine, loops around the spit and then the needle comes back out of the body near the spine again. Loop the twine through your stitch and continue securing the spine to the spit until you’ve reached the shoulder.
  6. Rub the inside of the lamb with some vegetable oil and sprinkle some sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and dried oregano. Rub the the spices around with your hands for even distribution.
  7. Using the butcher’s twine and needle, stitch and close the opening to cavity.
  8. Rub the exterior of your lamb with vegetable oil (olive oil tends to burn) and season your lamb well with sea salt and black pepper.
  9. Get your fire pit started with some kindling wood and newspaper. When some burning embers are present, Add two bags of charcoal into the pit and allow about 30 minutes for the charcoals to get white hot.
  10. Separate your hot coals into two piles: one underneath the shoulder end, the other pile under the hind leg side. The mid-section of the lamb cooks the fastest and there’s enough residual heat from both piles to cook the mid-section evenly with the rest of the lamb.
  11. Every hour, replenish your pit with another bag of charcoal with 2 piles at each far end of your pit. When your older charcoal starts losing heat, just push the newer charcoals over to your two main charcoal areas.
  12. Your lamb should take 5-6 hours to be cooked through and during the last hour, mix a basting marinade of 1 part lemon juice, 3 parts olive oil with some salt and dried oregano to taste and baste frequently for the last hour.
  13. Your lamb will show signs of being “done” when the carcass starts to crack as it revolves around on the rotisserie.
  14. Transfer the lamb to a large baking tray, allow to rest 15-20 minutes then cut away all butcher’s twine and carve it into pieces for your dinner guests. At this point you may drizzle a Ladolemono sauce on the meat, some sea salt and more dried Greek oregano.
  15. To make your job easier next year, wash and clean the rod and any other grilling utensils so that the cleaning for next’s year Easter becomes less of a task.

© 2015,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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37 Comments for “Lamb on the Spit (αρνί-στη-σούβλα)”

Núria

says:

Finally you could eat the lamb!!! Salud Peter! What a feast with the wine, the family, the food… Aaaahhhh this things are the best in life :D I hope you had the best of the times :D and that you didn’t drink too much… je, je.

Helene

says:

That’s sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll have to find Greek friends to celebrate Easter with them.

Susan from Food Blogga

says:

Oh, my gosh, I’ve never seen that before! I’m sure you and your family feasted like royalty.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining

says:

Wow Peter. That is so incredible looking! I can only imagine how it would taste. Hope you enjoyed the day!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

says:

That looks just incredible! I can only imagine how good it was. I hope you all enjoyed it and had a wonderful Easter!

glamah16

says:

I imagine you are quite hung over. I wouldn’t have the stoamch to prep the lamb for roasting, but I could sure eat it up.This was a impressive feat. Restup until next year!

zlamushka

says:

Amazing piece of lamb. Oh gosh I ve never seen anything like this. I d love to munch on its leg… aaah roasted…. gimmmeeee suuuum !

Pam

says:

Just beautiful Peter. What a great way to celebrate Easter with your family and friends. I’m sure there wouldn’t have been too much of the lamb left over. For some reason, we call this a “spit” roast here in Oz..don’t ask me why? A pit roast sounds much more appetizing.

Elly

says:

Christos Anesti, Peter! Your lamb looks delicious. It’s definitely the best meal of the year, isn’t it? :) Hope you had a nice Easter.

Sam Sotiropoulos

says:

Alithos Anesti, Peter! Looks like you guys had a wonderful roast lamb! Until next year then!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I hope you had a Happy Easter, but with a beautiful dinner like that, I don’t see how you couldn’t have! Very nice work–it looks like it must have really been a treat :-)

δεσποιναριον

says:

Α!!!! Και του χρονου να εισαι καλα. Τελειο! αχ αυτη η κρατσανιστη πετσουλα μιααααμμμμ!

Emiline

says:

Don’t let the vegetarians/vegans see this! They will cry tears.

Don’t tell them this, but it’s all kind of cool looking. Poor lamb though.

Peter M

says:

Nuria, YES…I may eat lamb and I will thoroughly enjoy the week of lamb.

Val, this Easter was aided by the great weather we enjoyed.

Kittie, it was grand.

Lulu, a few OPAs were shouted out.

Helene, you’ll look forward to Greek Easter year after year.

Susan, really? I guess sharing this day was a good idea.

Judy, finger-lickin’ good is how it tasted.

Pixie, feast X 10!

Glam, not hungover but tired…I did get a little wobbly though.

Zlamushka…a whole leg? lol

Pam, we call it spit-roasted too…there’s some left but it will vanish today.

Alithos Anesti, Elly! It was wonderful and I hope you and your family also had a great Easter.

Thanks Sam…we were blessed with wonderful Easter weather.

Mike, I look forward to this day, each & every year.

Alithos Anesti, Pete…kai tou xrono.

Ahahaha despoina..you tear off the “petsa” tou, eh?

Laurie, the arni sti souvla is worth the fuss.

Emi, the vegetarians are missing out…this is ovine manna!

Aimée

says:

Peter, I am so glad your big day was a success. I thought of you on Sunday. I know it’s hard to take photos amidst all the action, but you did a great job.
Happy Easter!

Lori Lynn

says:

I have to admit that I do not have the desire to wrestle this beast, but I have vicariously enjoyed the process and the feast. Thanks for doing all the work, Peter.

Kevin

says:

Cooking a full lamb sounds like a bit of work but also like a bit of fun. The rewards probably far out weigh the work required. I can just imagine all of that tasty lamb and hopefully lots of leftovers.

Ruth Elkin

says:

What a great tradition! Must be fun for all the family to help out preparing this.

How many could you serve with this dish?

katiez

says:

What a glorious feast!
I haven’t had any proper spit- roasted beast in years… The photos have my tastebuds working over time. And what a big lamb – actually, probably normal size. I got used to the little babies they serve in the asadors in Spain…