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For Thanksgiving, Matt and I got a 19 pound Turkey which we planned to bake in the ground. While the Turkey thawed for a day, I dug a pit and constructed a grill to lower the turkey into the pit when it was ready to cook. We also collected a fair pile of wood.
I got up early to start a fire in the pit. I also had a chimney of stones that I got a fire going in to heat them up. After about an hour, we stuffed the turkey and wrapped it in tinfoil. I also put a layer of wet newspapers under the turkey (but in between two of the tinfoil layers) to prevent it from burning while it sat on the hot coals. Then we lowered the turkey into the burning pit, and started covering it with hot rocks. We also put a number of potatos around amongst the hot rocks. Then we covered everything over with gravelly sand taken from the pit.
Then we waited, and waited, and waited. I had heard that it was possible to cook a turkey this way, but I had never tried it, and I was worried that it would either burn or be raw somewhere. I didn't think it would be raw though, as there was a lot of heat in the pitt, and I could feel it was warm just under the surface.
About 8 hours later, we unearthed the bird, and opened it up. It took some care to prevent sand from getting into the potatos as we unwrapped them, but they were well cooked. The turkey was wonderful, both moist and falling off the bones. We gorged, as did a number of the surrounding campers who we invited over.
The next morning I picked the rest of the meat off the carcass, just in time, as it seemed to attract every wandering dog in the neighborhood. We had leftovers for about a week, but it was cold enough at night that they didn't go bad.
Thanks to Ryan and Jo for the brilliant idea.
Lowering the turkey into the pit (hot rocks behind).
digging the turkey up.
Opening the turkey (Yum).