What are the origins of this cooking method and why the name SpitJack?
A “jack” referred to a mechanism that caused an object (usually a piece of meat) to rotate in front of a fire. There were different kinds of jacks- the bottle jack was housed in a canister and suspended from the mantel. It would spin the food vertically from a suspended string. Other jacks would use the horizontal method described below. There are stories of spits being turned by a special breed of dogs trained to run on a treadmill but most jacks were powered by a clockwork mechanism.