The spit being wiped clean, the joint to be roasted should be carefully spitted even, and tied tight; and if it will not turn round well, balance-skewers, with leaden heads, should be used ; for if the meat be not evenly spitted, it will probably be burned on one side, and not done on the other. Avoid running the spit through the prime parts of joints.
A leg of mutton should never be spitted, as the spit lets out the gravy, and leaves an unsightly perforation just as you are cutting into the pope's eye.
Make up the roasting-fire three or four inches longer than the joint, else the ends of the meat will not be done.
A thin joint requires a brisk fire; a large joint, a strong, sound, and even fire. When steam rises from the meat, it is done.
Large joints should be put at a moderate distance from the fire, and gradually brought nearer; else the meat will be overdone halfway through the joint, and be nearly raw at the bone.
Such meat as is not very fat should have paper placed over it, to prevent it from being scorched.
Do not sprinkle the meat with salt when first put down, as the salt draws out the gravy.
Old meats require more cooking than young. The longer the meat has been killed, the less time is required to roast it. Very fat meat requires more time than usual.
The general rule is to allow fifteen minutes to a pound for roasting with a good fire, and ten or twenty minutes over, as the family like it well done or not.
Baste the meat first with fresh dripping, and then with its own fat or dripping: and within the last hour of roasting, take off the paper, and sprinkle the meat with salt and flour, to brown and froth it; but some cooks dredge the meat with flour earlier, so that it may imbibe the gravy, a practice which should be specially avoided.
The spit should be wiped dry immediately after it is drawn from the meat, and washed and scoured every time it is used.
Perfection in roasting is very difficult, and no certain rules can be given for it, as success depends on many circumstances which are continually changing: the age and size (especially the thickness) of the pieces, the quality of the coal, the weather, the currents of air in the kitchen, the more or less attention of the cook, and the time of serving, are all to be considered. Hence, epicures say of a well-roasted joint, "It is done to a turn."
Roast meats should be sent to table the moment they are ready, if they are to be eaten in perfection.