Everyone likes to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I’d venture to guess there are few cooks who have half as much fun cooking the turkey as we do! Our celebration begins in the kitchen, er field. When we cook turkey outdoors, we do it with flair!
The night before our banquet, we take turns stoking and fanning an enormous fire built over a huge hole in the ground. Got that? Dig a huge hole! Lay green logs over the hole. Start a fire on top of the logs and fan those flames into a hot, roaring F I R E! Far more fun than turning the oven on 350, don’t you think?
Eventually the logs will burn through allowing hot coals to fill the hole creating a hot outdoor oven just perfect for roasting turkeys. Turkey in the Hole 2014 happened on a mild night, but it is amazing how warm it is around that fire even on years when the temperatures are in the lower twenties! Up close it’s not just warm, it’s hot! It takes some stamina to fan the fire for a few minutes.
The Mountaineers, Pioneers, and Woodsmen all took an hour long turn at keeping the fire built up. They also got the turkeys ready to bake.
Because the fire is so hot, the cavity of the turkey gets filled with ice. This helps to keep the turkey cooler at first. More importantly, the ice melts and helps to keep the meat from drying out. The outside of the turkey gets absolutely slathered with butter and lavishly covered with seasonings. Then it gets wrapped in fifteen sheets of tinfoil and wrapped with a metal hanger.
We all love the singing and stories and joking that goes on at Turkey in the Hole, but we really love the apple fritters and hot chocolate, too!
Eventually the fire is left alone to burn down. This year, we worked at the fire until midnight then went to sleep while the coals produced themselves on autopilot. At five in the morning, the turkeys got dropped down in their bed of coals and then covered with a layer of dirt. Last year we used a remote thermometer to record the temperatures of our outdoor oven. Within the first hour the turkeys were in the coals, the temperature went from 1100 degrees down to 800 degrees! By the end of the second hour, the temperature dropped to 600 degrees, still very high compared to most Turkey’s being made around the country. 4-1/2 hours later, the temperature leveled out at around 200 degrees where they slowly baked to perfection.
We love that our parents get to join us for a Thanksgiving Dinner before we go home. This year at sharing time, the chiefs told us one thing they are thankful for about each boy in their group. So many times when Thanksgiving rolls around, we thank God for our things. We thank Him for the intangible things like health, freedom, and love. We even thank Him for the people in our families and for our friends. But most of us don’t bless each other often enough with words of thanks and appreciation. Have you told someone today how much you appreciate them and why?