Cooking Turkeys on camping trips
Charles Schmidt (schmidt@UNIX3.IS.TCU.EDU)
Wed, 23 Nov 1994 00:31:05 -0600
Having read with great interest the postings on the method for cooking
turkeys by suspending them among columns of charcoal, I proposed to the
PLC that we have a Thanksgiving feast on our campout last weekend. They
bought into it, and I am writing to give details of how the turkey
cooking thing works.
It works GREAT!
Equipment included four 12.5 lb turkeys, 2 ten foot lengths of 1/2"
electrical conduit, a roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil, a couple of meat
thermometers and a roll of 1" chicken wire. (apologies to non-US scouters
for the use of those archaic units of measure) I had intended to use what
is called hardware cloth - the small square-meshed net - but it was too
expensive. The 1" chicken wire works fine.
The method: The turkeys were rubbed with butter and seasoning and then
wrapped in a chicken wire basket. (This could use some improvement, but
works) We built a frame with two shear lashings and a pole tied between
them about 6 feet above the ground - guyed it up so that it would stay
up. The turkeys were hung from the horizontal pole with a rope tied
around the pole with a taut-line hitch (allowing them to be raised and
lowered) with about 6" between turkeys (a row). The birds were hung
about 3" above the ground.
We cut the electrical conduit into 2' lengths, and made cylinders of the
chicken wire about 3-4" in diameter and 18" long and staked the conduit
into the ground and tied on the cylinders in the fashion shown poorly
below (boy it would be nice to have graphics on this thing)
/o o o o o\
| 0 0 0 0 0 |
| TT TT TT TT |
| TT TT TT TT |
| 0 0 0 0 0 |
|o o o o o|
o = electrical conduit
0 = cylinder of chicken wire
| and _ = wall of aluminum foil
TT = Turkey
Hope you get the idea. It was about 4" from each cylinder to the nearest
turkey. We wrapped a stip of heavy foil around the outside of the
electrical conduit poles (the wide kind, making the foil wall about 20"
tall), and we put a floor of foil under the turkeys. A meat thermometer
was placed in one inside and one outside turkey. We placed a pan below
each turkey to catch the drippings, put lit brickette (about 6) in each
cylinder, and filled the cylinders to about 10" with unlit charcoal. We
then covered the gaps with sheets of foil.
After about 30 minutes, the turkeys were starting to brown, so we removed
the top pieces of foil to slow it down a bit, and as the charcoal was
consumed, we replaced it with unlit bricketts, keeping the height of
charcoal about 8-10". We basted the turkeys a couple of times by taking
the drippings and pouring them over the hanging turkeys.
The turkeys were done in 3 hours. They were perfect. The meat fell off
of the bone, no meat was burned, none uncooked, and the boys and adults
all agreed that the meat was juicier than home-cooked birds. The gravy
from the drippings wasn't good - either my cooking, or the nature of the
drippings which were entirely oil (plus a bit of charcoal ash).
The patrols cooked other dishes including dressing, mashed potatoes,
cherry and pumpkin pies, rolls and salad. It was a feast and a great
success. I am eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to cook more turkey,
and we are thinking that this will make a good demo for the Scout-a-rama
Charles Schmidt firstname.lastname@example.org
SM, Troop 64
Fort Worth, Texas
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City