Putting the Spin on Rotisserie Chicken

In early medieval times, a “spit jack” was hired to slowly rotate skewered food over an open flame—allowing the meat to steadily self-baste in its own juices. Today’s restaurants no longer hire for such a position; rather, they rely on automated rotisseries, those of which first spun around the world in the latter part of the Middle Ages (1450s), as a dependable part of their workforce.

The modern rotisserie oven uses a...