How to cook a turkey on a campfire

Thanksgiving is a great time to go camping.   You have extra time off of work, the kids are out of school, and the fall air is cool and crisp.   The only downside to camping may be that you risk missing out on the Thanksgiving feast.  But as you well know,  at PahaQue we love cooking outdoors, and we think that a Thanksgiving meal is even better when enjoyed  outdoors on a camping trip with family.   Of course camping out of a tent , or even camping out of your trailer provides a unique set of challenges when preparing Thanksgiving dinner.    The primary one being: How to cook a Turkey when  when you are camping?  If you have a a large motorhome, you  may not have any issues, but even  a large R-pod doesn’t have enough space to roast a 12lb bird, so we prefer to head straight to the campfire.   Of course there is always the option of deep frying your Turkey when you are camping, but the gear and oil  required for that job is bulky, and can take up a ton of space in your car or your  teardrop trailer.  Not to mention that fact that all of that hot oil can be dangerous.  So we prefer this alternative to  deep frying a turkey, one that is  healthier and less dangerous to boot.  We learned this method from Little Guy Trailers a few years ago.  How to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey on a campfire:

1024px-RoastTurkey.jpg

Supplies you will need:

  • A shovel and rake ( rake optional)
  • A turkey of course
  • Olive oil
  • Your preferred spices ( rosemary, salt, etc)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cheesecloth
  •  A nice big fire

Step 1: Start the Fire

The first step to cooking a turkey on a campfire is planning ahead with plenty of fuel for the fire.  Have a big pile of wood ready to go, and get that fire going enough to create plenty of hot coals.   You’ll need to dig a 2X2 foot hole next to your campfire, as that’s where you’ll cook your bird.

STEP 2: Prep Your Bird

While that  campfire is burning, you can clean and prepare your turkey.   Just clean it up and rub it down with the same spice mix you would use if you cooked your turkey at home.   If you love stuffing, just stuff the turkey as you normally would, and then get ready to protect it from  direct contact with the coals.

Step 3:  Protect Your Bird

Once the bird is rubbed and stuffed, you’ll need to wrap the turkey entirely in the cheesecloth, and then wrap the turkey in three to four layers of aluminum foil.  This step is important, as it will protect your bird from the coals.   We’ve always wanted to try getting rid of the cheesecloth, and wrapping it in cabbage leaves.   This is how we cooked our “trail burgers”  back in our boy scout days.  We like the idea, but haven’t been brave enough to try it.  If you decide to try the cabbage leaves, let us know how it goes!

Step 4: Move your bird

Once your coals are ready, take your shovel or rake and put about half the coals in the bottom of the whole you dug earlier.  You’ll want a couple of inches of coals, and you’ll want to spread them evenly across the bottom of the hole.   Then use the shovel to carefully place the turkey on top of the coals, and follow up the turkey with the rest of the coals.   Try to gently cover it as completely as possible, and  its ok to use some of the dirt to build up a little wall around the edges.

Step 5: Wait

Since a 10-12 lb turkey takes around 3 hours too cook, you’ll have some time to relax before you start preparing the rest of your meal.  For anything over 12 lbs, just add 15 minutes per lb to the cooking time.    After you have relaxed and recovered from all that digging, campfire building, and rubbing, you can start preparing the rest of your meal.  Fans of the blog know that Cooky Jason’s  grilles, scalloped potatoes will go great with a campfire cooked turkey.

Step 6: Chow down

When the time is up, use your shovel to carefully remove your bird from the coals.  You won’t want to set it down  directly on the table, as the  bird and the coals will be extremely hot.   We like to set it down on a nice tree stump or flat rock.   Unwrap the turkey, using great care to watch our for steam and hot air escaping from the foil.  Then transfer to a carving board, carve it up, and enjoy!

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