SPIT, a rotating bar for roasting meat, game or poultry. A spit usually has one or more prongs to which the meat is fixed; in the case of a basket-spit it is enclosed in an oblong basket of iron wire. The old form of spit was fixed on hooks or upon rachets on the fire-dogs; at one end of the bar is a grooved wheel for a chain connected with a smoke-jack in the chimney, or some similar contrivance for turning the spit so that every surface of the meat is exposed to the fire in turn. The jack was sometimes turned by a boy or a small dog trained for the purpose, the boy and the dog were equally known as turn-spits. The spits, when not in use, were placed in a spit-rack over the fireplace. These primitive arrangements eventually gave place to a combined spit and mechanical roasting-jack, which was fixed to a small crane projecting from the mantelpiece. The jack, which was largely of brass, rotated when wound up, and the meat was hung below it immediately in front of the fire, and the gravy and dripping were caught in a large shallow metal pan with a high screen to prevent the diffusion of heat. The almost universal employment in England of closed kitcheners has thrown all forms of spits and jacks into disuse, but in old-fashioned kitchens they are still sometimes seen. The more ancient forms of roasting apparatus are now much sought after by collectors.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)