HOME > Chowhound > BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling >


Rotisserie COW question.

I am helping design a Rotisserie FOR A WHOLE 900lbs COW.

My question is do you think 1RPM (Rotation per minute) is to fast? The heat will only be on one side but it should be intense. What i have planned is "Wall of fire" that will be 1-4 high that will be made of steel and burn wood. I can add heat in the front if I feel I need to add it buy burning wood on the ground in front.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I saw a youtube video where they did a 200kg steer at about 4 rpm. For 900lbs you'll need a mighty heavy rig. Check out bovinova.com.

    2 Replies
      1. re: JB BANNISTER

        I almost spit out my drink laughing when I read that! Wonderful.
        I read about bovinova when looking at Caja China and looking at roasting whole animals. Your project looks wonderful.

        Cows are thick, even when "opened" (what's the word? spatchcocked would be poultry). Could you put some kind of heat reflector on top, above the meat? I'd think there would be a lot of heat loss especially as the edge of the animal was over the heat. A giant Caja China sort of box would not be as dramatic, but it might be easier to keep hot.

        I wish you luck. If you find anything, please follow up here. I'd love to know how you end up doing it

    1. Jeff, it's about time you showed up here on our new bbq board!

      I can't imagine that 1 RPM would be too fast. I am sure we have all seen images from western-style barbecues with the "cooks" turning the spit by hand. I can't imagine that they could turn slower than that, unless they were to turn, stop, turn again, stop, etc. You certainly are the closest we have to an expert when it comes to roasting such a large piece over a fire, so I would think that you already have a good idea of how to proceed. But I think 1 RPM sounds fine.

      1. I really don't have a clue, but I'm guessing you can't have "too fast".
        I started a restaurant in another life, doing rotisserie chicken over live charcoal in a 500F+ oven. An old Italian guy showed me the ropes.
        The birds (6 spits, 5 chickens per) turned at over 40 RPM. I thought it was too fast, but the old timer told me no, it was fine. And it was, the chicken came out perfect.

        Just curious how you're planning to keep the spit from grinding out (spit turns, cow does not)?

        "Check out bovinova.com" had me chuckling as well...

        2 Replies
        1. re: porker

          Porker, I think it would be cool to see it spinning really fast so little nuggets would come flying off as it cooks.
          -sorry, JB. You are definitely THE authority on large animal roasting, and we trust your instincts and enjoy your experiences.

          1. re: Veggo

            That gives a while new meaning to sliders!


        2. "WHOLE 900lb COW" - Geeze! I remember checking out the custom rack on your website a while ago. The biggest thing I've done is a steamship primal, with a rented rotisserie. 3 or 4 rpm sticks in my memory

          1. We have a motor that can move a 1000lbs at 1 Rpm. An Engineer is working on fastening it to the rack.

            I am also looking at doing a whole sword fish but that is another topic. I think that will be easy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JB BANNISTER

              Sounds fantastic. Love the idea of whole large fish and would appreciate updates on your project

            2. As you know from your past experience, cooking such a large piece of meat is problematic in that the outside can be fully cooked or even overcooked before the inside is cooked.

              At 1 rpm you may have to make sure the fire isn't too hot or close.

              I have done whole calves, and 1/4's of small cows. But did them in a pre-heated wood fired brick oven, long and slow. It was a cooling oven that started at around 250F, letting it sit overnight and it cooled to around 200 after 18 hours. Perfectly cooked and fed hundreds. No rotisserie.

              On a rotisserie the largest critter I have done is a whole hog that was around 200 Lbs. That was at 3-4 rpm With low heat (hardwood charcoal and wood chips) and a foil and sheet stainless steel cover on on sides and top to reflect heat and keep in smoke.

              1. Hey JB, have you thought about going the other way? I dunno, maybe roasting WHOLE hummingbird...

                5 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      They would make great poppers whole. A tad crunch though

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        would make an Ortolan look like gluttony.

                        or available seasonally at the local farm and home store...

                        1. re: hill food

                          Saw that banner at a motel 8 in Lauderdale during spring break.

                  1. Saw the wall of fire on a variety of commercial and private installations in Europe. There was always a pan to catch the juices.

                    I would definitely put the fire upwind with wind barriers so the smoke and heat can be somewhat contained and not wasted. In order to get the most meat finished at the same time, I would believe that spatchcocked would be the best method. You would still get an awesome presentation.

                    You might want to reference the John Wayne movie "McClintock" for a visual on whole steer on a spit.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                      I done it several times spatchcocked now I am ready to change. Thanks for the movie idea.

                    2. I can't add any help but I do so enjoy your posts. One day I'd like to have chicken rotisserie capability at home but it will likely end there for me. I don't want to climb Everest but it's fascinating to read accounts from those who do. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                        If you have cotton string you have a chicken rotisserie, that is if you have a fireplace or fire pit. This is video is 36 sec long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkUxfe... Just keep the string wet.

                      2. after reading your posts the last coupla years, lemme guess JB: your favorite 20th century artist is Claes Oldenburg, right?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hill food

                          And his 16th century favorite artist would beTitian....;)

                            1. re: hill food

                              You guys just way over this rednecks head. ??

                        2. I'm not trying to resurrect a board but just notifying you that I have ordered it and it is being built.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: JB BANNISTER

                            keep us updated, neighbors have started running goats on their land, may sell a small one to me maybe.

                            1. re: hill food

                              This is how I prefer to do my goats.

                              1. re: JB BANNISTER

                                so they're spatchcocked, makes sense.

                                (thank god my vegan friends aren't on CH)

                                1. re: hill food

                                  Hill, I'm guessing that no vegans live within 10 miles downwnind from JB Bannister's house!

                                    1. re: porker

                                      yeah HA! yesterday we were putting out hay for the cows (it is still Winter after all) and while I was cutting the string on a bale a calf got eager and I waved the knife and in my best Rosie Perez accent yelled "you wait or I cut you and I eat you!"

                                      the calf demurred and mooed.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        I suppose a calf that doesn't quickly learn to choose his fights carefully is soon to be veal....

                            2. re: JB BANNISTER

                              If you need a fire wrangler, or tasting technician, LMK