Sunday, 6 January 2013

Christmas dinner in the Woods

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to cook in a barrel off a dray"

Have you ever found the internet to be a dangerous thing? All that information, videos and crazy ideas just waiting for someone to look at them. Well someone from the Sussex Bushcraft UK group found one of these silly article on cooking a turkey in a trash can on an American site. It was floated round the group and a few people were up for it. Next thing you know, we've got a full menu planned.

Now as with all good ideas, we at the Sussex BCUK group like to put our own spin on things. Being quintessentially British, cooking in a trash can (or metal refuse receptacle as we call it in the home counties) was not our style. We needed to come up with something that was more British, more Sussex, more us. Then, one bright spark comes up with a beer barrel! Now that was us. Sadly he'd already emptied it, but now we had a plan and a method. So the date was set, the menu sorted and the venue, well where else would we be, Ashdown Forest.

For those of you not familiar with this method of cooking, I'll try and explain.

1. Take a beer barrel and empty it. How you empty it is up to you, but if you do it by yourself might I suggest leaving step 2 for a few days.

2. Cut out the top of the barrel and clean/sterilise the inside. Being a beer barrel it will already be a food grade material, so nothing to worry about when putting food in it.

3. Take some tin foil and place it on the ground. Wrap a couple of bricks in tin foil and a stick, again wrapped in tin foil. place stick in the ground, bricks at the base.

4. Take a defrosted turkey with all the bits removed and place on stick.

5. Place empty, topless beer barrel over turkey

6. Place some lit charcoal round the base and on top of the beer barrel. For those a little more familiar with beer barrels will know that with the base inverted you are left with a nice recess to hold your charcoal.

You know what, pictures say it better...

The prep done and the barrel ready

Charcoal lit and spread round, the magic wafter is put to use as the
coals really start to heat up

The Christmas meal tower. Note the clever use of charcoal
on top of each pot to act as the base for the next.

From top to bottom
Sausages in bacon
Christmas Pud steaming
Roast Potatoes
Turkey in a Barrel

And not to forget all the veggies and stuffing balls cooking on the very well built fire.

Keeping an eye on things, roast potatoes doing well and a turkey bronzing up a treat.

One happy head chef. Our steady hand on the tiller and driving force.

Leading to one group of happy campers. A big thank you to one and all as this was a true group effort. From the planing and wood gathering to everyone pitching in with the cooking just made it all taste better.

So in conclusion, this was a great way to cook and the perfect start to Christmas. If anyone is thinking about giving this a go, I recommend it. We had a 10kg turkey that took about 2 hours to cook and well checked with a meat thermometer. Roasties were about an hour and the sausages and bacon only needed about 45 minutes.

I foresee this becoming a Christmas tradition for the Sussex BCUK group, which is no bad thing in my eyes. 

How many more sleeps till Christmas?

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