|The Steps to take to bake a tasty bird for the 5th!
0. Thaw out your bird till it is about 3/4 unfrozen. I generally get
a turkey of about 32-4 lbs. but any size would do -pork makes a good pit
roast too as would beef. Then rub under the skin with spices and bag with
any marinade in large trash bags. Pierce the bird to let in the marinade
1. Dig the Pit -lay the rocks in the bottom and start the fire. The Rocks should be medium sized -6 inches to a foot long or larger at longest length. They should be packed so as to provide a flat surface. If you wish you may stack up a few large rocks on one side so that they can be placed over the meat. I generally stack a layer of about 18 inches thick of rock. (rocks can be used year after year I always take them out each year and re set them removing roots and soil which has come in between them. My rocks have lasted about 13 years but are now a bit too f ragmented and will require additional rock next year. To make your rocks last try not to put the fire out with cold water.) In the corner of the pit you should dig a depression about 8 inches square and a foot or so deep. This "sump" is used as a container for unburned coals. Leave enough flat area for the rocks and meat. My pit is about a yard and one half by one yard and is about a yard deep. Keep the walls straight. It is important to save the soil in a container. A wheelbarrow is best. Keep the soil covered so that if it rains it will not get wet. Also it is a good idea to keep the pit covered. I use a sheet aluminum (old porch awnings) roof set on top of landscape timbers about 8 feet off the ground. Beware! the roof gets quite hot even at that height so it should be of metal. A light of some sort should also be provided so that you can see what you are doing when digging up the meat in the dark.
2. I generally burn the fire
from about dark over night then
3. While the fire is burning get out the chicken wire mesh (saved from
the year before).
4. Spread the mesh out on a table and cover it with a layer of collard leaves. Make sure that there are no spaces . You should lay 3 layers of leaves orienting the long dimension of the leaves of the new layer perpendicular to that of the previous layer.
Carrots and other hard veg make a good package too! I generally add exotic greens. Wrap the veg in twice as many collard leaves and keep from the heart of the pit. I usually place the veg on top of the meat packages as it cooks much faster.
8. As 10:30 (or your cooking time) approaches add just enough
wood to keep the fire burning. Let the coals burn down to ash. The fire
should not be allowed to burn so fast and hot that charcoal accumulates.
While waiting move the meat,veg and extra collards to the site of the pit.
Have the dirt in the wheel barrow ready to quickly back fill the pit.
Once the collards and rocks are in place cover the meat with a wet sheet being careful to fold the sheet in between the pit walls and the meat. Tuck it in.
(your guests will enjoy this!) Decorate the pit appropriately then wait till about 6:00PM
to dig up the meat. We generally set up the pit as a small shrine with incense and cut flowers.
12.Lift out the meat packages-have
gloves and trays ready they will be hot.
13. Once in the kitchen carefully dust any soil off form the outside of the packages. Carefully clean the area under each package of stray soil. Remove the coat hanger wire and carefully unwrap. Remove only the wire mesh. Dust dirt off again if any. Then carefully flip the meat over to expose the cleanest (breast) side - the side which faced down toward the collard covered hot rocks.
14. Using a knife slice open the collard package again watching for
15.While the meat is being unwrapped have some one rekindle the fire in the pit. Our fire laws require that fires be kept enclosed- be careful to obtain your local fire ordinances in advance. The rocks in the pit will remain hot for a few days - I once burned the soles out of a good pair of heavy boots 48 hours later! I generally fill the pit in with garden debris and the original soil and then plant my summer crops right over it.
Let us know how your pit cooking turned out! If you wrap it well and
take time to cover and excavate properly you will have a great
and memorable dinner each time. If you encounter problems please
let us know at the address below. Send in images of your pit
-we would like to see how it went!
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