The fire should be prepared at least half an hour before the beef is put down, and it should be large, steady, clear, and bright, with plenty of fine hot coals at the bottom.
The best apparatus for the purpose is the well-known roaster frequently called a tin-kitchen.
Wash the meat in cold water, and then wipe it dry, and rub it with salt. Take care not to run the spit through the best parts of it. It is customary with some cooks to tie blank paper over the fat, to prevent it from melting and wasting too fast.
Put it evenly into the roaster, and do not set it too near the fire, lest the outside of the meat should be burned before the inside is heated.
Put some nice beef-dripping or some lard into the pan or bottom of the roaster, and as soon as it melts begin to baste the beef with it; taking up the liquid with a long spoon, and pouring it over the meat so as to let it trickle down again into the pan. Repeat this frequently while it is roasting; after a while you can baste it with its own fat. Turn the spit often, so that the meal may be equally done on all sides.
Once or twice draw back the roaster, and improve the fire by clearing away the ashes, bringing forward the hot coals, and putting on fresh fuel at the back. Should a coal fall into the dripping-pan take it out immediately.
An allowance of about half an hour to each pound of meat is the time commonly given for roasting; but this rule, like most others, admits of exceptions according to circumstances. Also, some persons like their meat very much done; others prefer it rare, as it is called. In summer, meat will roast in a shorter time than in winter.
When the beef is nearly done, and the steam draws towards the fire, remove the paper that has covered the fat part, sprinkle on a little salt, and having basted the meat well with the dripping, pour off nicely (through the spout of the roaster) all the liquid fat from the top of the gravy.
Lastly, dredge the meat very lightly with a little flour, and baste it with fresh butter. This will give it a delicate froth. To the gravy that is now running from the meat add nothing but a tea-cup of boiling water. Skim it, and send it to table in a boat. Serve up with the beef in a small deep plate, scraped horseradish moistened with vinegar.
Fat meat requires more roasting than lean, and meat that has been frozen will take nearly double the usual time.
Basting the meat continually with flour and water is a bad practice, as it gives it a coddled par-boiled appearance, and diminishes the flavour.
These directions for roasting beef will apply equally to mutton.