The Shady Porch: Turkey in the Hole: A Recipe for Thanksgiving Turkey

11.11.2013

Turkey in the Hole: A Recipe for Thanksgiving Turkey

Wildflowers from central Florida Big Berkley water filters & Teapot
Wildflowers from the woods perched
between our two Big Berkey water filters
along with our daughter's teapot from Kazakhstan
Hello! I am Rose Petal of Live Ready Now! sharing an adventurous way to make turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m wife to Silver Oak and mommy to six blessings, and we live completely off the grid in a tiny house (converted semi trailer) on twenty acres in central Florida where we are learning to grow our own food and live sustainably.
A Thanksgiving turkey has not necessarily been our tradition since we avoid antibiotic, hormone, and GMO laden foods. But last year someone blessed us with a frozen organic bird which really was asking to be Thanksgiving dinner for us. Since turkey baking requires around three hours and lots of fuel, we decided to try “Turkey-in-the-Hole.”
If you want instant turkey, don’t try this. It takes planning ahead and work, but is a fun family project and makes some of the best turkey you’ll ever eat. It requires no electricity or fossil fuels, but lots of wood from trimming or cutting down trees needing to be removed anyway.
The day before Thanksgiving, a pit must be dug. We chose a sandy spot off the beaten path and dug our pit two feet by three feet, and four feet deep, with straight sides. That takes lots of shoveling! And hard work! The two oldest girls did most of it since Silver Oak was busy working with the Bobcat rented for the weekend.

Hauling firewood for the Turkey-In-The-Hole pit from Live Ready Now
Preparing the site and hauling in loads of firewood
After an hour or so of digging, the pit was ready. We soon had a fire raging in the pit. The firewood was gathered and cut earlier from clearing we’d done. It took several hours to burn enough wood for a huge pile of hot coals to completely encompass the turkey. The younger children were tucked into bed and Silver Oak helped tend the fire between working with the Bobcat (using lights he cleared more of our wild 20 acres for a small field).

Bonfire for the Turkey-In-The-Hole pit from Live Ready Now
A spectacular sight at night

Hot coals in the pit for the Turkey-In-The-Hole from Live Ready Now
Now mostly hot coals

Meanwhile, the thawed bird was rubbed inside and out with softened butter, then salted liberally and sprinkled with garlic and poultry seasoning. We wrapped it four times in aluminum foil to keep out the sand, leaving the end open to access the chest cavity.
A secure cage was made of wire fencing left over from endless fencing projects. I bent it around the turkey, folding wires around each other. On top I fastened a stiff wire several feet long as a handle to raise and lower it, and to stick out of the sand, marking where it was buried.

Turkey wrapped and ready for the Turkey-In-The-Hole from Live Ready Now
The wrapped and caged turkey
When we finally had about 12 inches of fiery red coals, it was ready for the turkey. Before closing the foil we filled the chest cavity full of ice, folded up the foil and that end of the cage, and carefully lowered it into the center of the hot coals. With a shovel Silver Oak pushed a mound of coals to the side, and used them to completely cover the caged turkey. Then we back-filled the pit with sand, covering turkey, coals, and all.

Turkey waiting to be buried in the pit from Live Ready Now
On the hot coals waiting to be buried
Twelve hours later (the next day) we got our shovels and started digging again. Of course it was much easier this time around, and we soon pulled up that wire cage holding our turkey. While digging we were careful to not puncture the foil and kept a healthy distance from the edge of the pit and those hot coals.


Removing the cooked Turkey from the pit from Live Ready Now
Grandpa helps pull it up
Lifting the caged turkey onto a tray, we cut away the wires and pulled back the foil, eager to see how it turned out. We were not disappointed! It was beautiful in sight, smell and taste. The tender, juicy meat fell easily off the bones. Some of the turkey tasters thought it needed a little more salt, but otherwise the flavor was flawless. The ice in the chest cavity provided adequate moisture, and even the white breasts were very juicy. It was a turkey to remember.

Beautifully cooked turkey from the pit cooking method - Live Ready Now
Ready to eat!
CAUTION: Obviously a pit full of fire or hot coals poses serious danger if a person or animal falls into it which could result in grave injury or death. Do this at your own risk. Refill the hole and cover the hot coals immediately.

Basic Turkey-in-the-Hole instructions:

- Dig pit 2’x3’ by 4’deep
- Burn wood to make 12” of hot coals across bottom of pit
- Rub thawed turkey with butter inside and out
- Season generously with salt, garlic, poultry seasoning, etc
- Wrap in four layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, leaving chest cavity end open temporarily
- Place in wire cage made from fencing wire or similar
- Fasten a 3 or 4 foot heavy wire to top of cage for a handle and marker
- Before lowering turkey fill chest cavity with ice and securely seal up the foil
- Cover caged turkey with hot coals and fill the hole with sand
- After roughly 12 hours dig it back up, unwrap, enjoy
- Backfill the pit immediately

Kitty likes turkey! Turn around so Kitty can get some...please.
Say...(sniff, sniff), what have we here?
If you try “Turkey in the Hole” I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Happy Thanksgiving!
Blessings,
Homestead Vacation and Olive Trees

PS. In case you're interested, I'm including some pictures of what Silver Oak was doing on the Bobcat while we were baking our turkey in the hole.

Building an embarkment with Bobcat around foundation - Live Ready Now
Besides clearing and moving heavy piles of Palmettoes, Silver Oak used the Bobcat
to build an embankment after making a wall underneath to enclose the area under the house.
Moving in sand for the embarkment around foundation - Live Ready Now
It took lots of sand, but we've got plenty on our property.
Before photo of  foundation - Live Ready No
This is what it had looked like before making the wall and building the bank.
After photo of  foundation - Live Ready No
This is how the bank looks now, nearly a year later. Here we are planting bamboo.

more posts from Live Ready Now! that you might like...
Growing Salad on Trees and Shrubs
Our Windmill - A Sustainable Pump   
Sustainable Soap That Grows on Trees
 
Be sure to stop by and visit Rose Petal @ Live Ready Now
Live Ready Now!

 Thank you, Rose Petal! I am so glad you joined us and shared your adventurous and intriguing Turkey-In-The-Hole recipe with me and my Shady Porch neighbors!

The Shady Porch