Cooking a Beef Roast (i.e. Tasty Smoked Meat over a fire)


A good friend requested to know how I cook beef on the spit over an open fire. Below will actually smoke the meat while the flavor is actually sealed in then it will cook internally in about 4-6 hours.

Cut of beef: I like to start with a roast of ribeye due to the strong marbling and the fat content – it just makes for good flavor and allows the fat to gradually infiltrate the rest of the meat (i.e. good flavor.)

The Fire: The fire should be of moderate heat and then I set up the spit so that meat will be sitting above the flame by about 6 inches and 10 inches above the real heat of the fire. It will also depend on the direction of the wind. I like to have the wind moving the smoke towards the meat so that the meat can smoke it to cook it and not necessarily use only the heat of the fire.

Equipment:  I use a three piece spit – two sides of wrought iron with a top piece of iron as well. Each are about 30 inches in length and will hold about 6-8 lbs of meat. Also, use a knife to make a hole down the center of the meat and I use a cutting board to cut the beef.

I prefer to take the roast and chunk it so that it receives mostly even heat across the fire. 4 inch x 4 inch or so chunks liberally coated with salt and pepper then brought up to room temp (or the temp of the place where we’re cooking) works well. The salt also helps form a crust on the outside of the beef.

After the beef is chunked, salted/peppered, and at room temp, I take a knife and slit down the center to then slide onto the spit. I don’t believe that its necessary to have “C” clamps to keep the meat on, just slide them together and make a think slit down the center of the meat – if its too big, it will just slide around. But feel free to push them fairly close together when they cook – the thickness of the whole “meat stick” is uniform and should cook evenly (depending on how the fire is).

When cooking, in the beginning, turn it every 30 or so minutes. In the beginning, the seal is beginning to form and its Ok for it to sit a bit more on each side while the smoky skin is forming. After its sealed, I like to turn it every 15-20 minutes, a bit more often so that it doesn’t get too well cooked on one side or another.  I also am looking at whether or not the meat needs to be switched and not just rotated (taken off the spit and reversed) – so that the heat is more even while cooking the meat.

Again, for tending the fire, keep it warm, but not a high flame – you are cooking this via smoke (semi-indirect heat) and you want the smoke to be on the meat, but not directly over the heat.

For additional flavor, you can add melted butter or bacon grease over the seared beef – it just improves the taste and will help add moisture to the seal. This is not necessary, but can always help!

After a number of hours over the fire, with rotating the meat, look for darker sealed edges and it should still be dripping juices. Once it stops dripping juices, test it by cutting off one corner of the beef (my husband’s favorite piece) test it – it should be fully cooked with the most interior of the test piece slightly pinkish.

If the chunks are not fully cooked – keep them on the fire until they are.

After they are cooked, remove from the spit and then cut into chunks and serve with mustard or any other sauce or plain. Your guests will love them as will you!


About historiccooking

A wife and mother of one little girl who is still a YUPPIE that just happens to enjoy recreating history - all aspects of how people lived in the medieval era, specifically my research focuses on 14th and 15th century England and this blog will discuss the food, cooking, equipment, and life around food in that period.

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