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Cooking a turkey over a fire

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Nick_Cov · · Truckee, CA · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 35

Any ideas on how to cook a turkey over a campfire? Nothing that takes too much maintenance.

Alex Bury · · Ojai, CA · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 2,246

Sounds like a dirtbag thanksgiving to me!

Keenan Waeschle · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 200

get a big dutch oven. You can cook anything with a campfire and a dutch oven.

Paul-B · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 115

Spatchcock. Dutch oven

Buff Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 1,145

get you a honnold shagginwagon with the propane & turkey smoker option

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125…
Or just go to the creek and hand somebody your turkey
ChefMattThaner · · Lakewood, co · Joined May 2013 · Points: 246

Open fire cooking for a bird any larger then a quail is a terrible way to go about this. The only way to turn out an actually fully cooked bird without completely charring the outside 2 inches of flesh would be a very slow spit roasting technique. I am assuming you do not have a motor suited for rigging up an automatic spit turner and you will definitely not want to turn by hand for the several hours it will take to cook like this.

Some people have suggested dutch ovens but those are insanely heavy i.e. not something you want to lug around a campsite unless you have oxen pulling your wagon. Not to mention kindve expensive as far as cookery equipment goes.

The best way to cook a turkey using little more than a typical campfire utilizes the pit method. You will need to start a large fire with more wood then you would probably think you would need. Get the fire raging so you can quickly add logs and convert them to coals. While the fire is going if you have any large rocks near by(not river rocks they will explode) palce them into the fire or directly next to and touching the fire. Try and get these stones super hot. While your fire is going you will need to dig a pit about double the size of your turkey. Line the bottom of the pit with the rocks you just got searing hot. Place a good layer of red hot coals on top of those rocks. Then palce your well seasoned or preferably brined turkey on tope of these coals. Then cover said turkey with remaining coals, a layer of newspaper or a tap on top of that, then cover with a couple of inches of dirt. Allow this bad boy to cook according to the following table:

Approximate Roasting Times for Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight

6 to 8 pounds 3 to 3-1/2 hours
8 to 12 pounds 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours
12 to 16 pounds 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours
16 to 20 pounds 5-1/2 to 6 hours
20 to 24 pounds 6 to 6-1/2 hours
Approximate Roasting Times for Unstuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight

6 to 8 pounds 2-1/2 to 3 hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 4 hours
12 to 16 pounds 4 to 5 hours
16 to 20 pounds 5 to 5-1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 5-1/2 to 6 hours

Jon Zucco · · Denver, CO · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 245

^sounds legit, and his name is Chef, so you know you can trust him.^

Joshua Reinig · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 12,376

Spent the last 10 thanksgivings at Buttermilks in Bishop Ca. Have a lot of practice. The best advice I can give you is to find a place that can make a turkey for you or make it ahead of time "Manor Market". Than when camping just have to heat up the carved up bird over the fire. All the rest of the fixens are fairly easy to pull off.
Careful not to kick gravel into mashed potatoes sucks!!!

josh holmes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 215

I've cooked a wild turkey in a fire pit before. It is a pretty basic process. Build a HUGE fire, next to it dig a hole (ours was 5' deep by 4' around), line bottom and the sides with rocks that will not explode, prep bird, shovel hot coals into pit, place bird, fill pit with more coals, cover the pit with dirt. We dug our bird out about 5.5-6hrs later and feasted like only starving climbers can.

The almighty google also provided this…

Jesse Newton · · catskills · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 145

exploding river rocks sounds interesting for thankgiving day epics

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

The pit mentioned is the best. I wouldn't fully discount the dutch oven though.

Mine is 10". I used charcoal instead of wood and put onions, yams, taters, corn, peas, and a chicken in it. It served 3 for a thanksgiving feast and there were some leftovers. The problem with it though was that I also would like to bake some brownies or cobbler in it and by the time we'd emptied it out I wasn't feeling up to cleaning and prepping once more.

Maybe 2 dutch ovens?

I don't think one can own too much cast iron cookware. If you want any tips on properly seasoning or next level care for your cast iron, ask me, it's somewhat of an obsession of mine.

Robert Cort · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 800
Nick_Cov wrote:Any ideas on how to cook a turkey over a campfire? Nothing that takes too much maintenance.
Under is the word you're looking for here. Dig a pit, build a good sized fire in the pit, when it's down to coals, put large rocks on the coals, place the bird on the rocks (more about prepping the bird below), then more rocks around and smaller rocks on top of the bird. If available a sheet of metal (corrugated roofing works), or dirt if metal not available, then keep a fire going on top for a few hours more. Ideally, you will have a probe thermometer in the bird to know when it's done, but 4-6 hours depending on the bird should work well. the key here is you want enough rocks and coals in the bottom of the pit to provide most of the heat for your oven, the rocks on top, and the fire on top keep it from cooling down, and provide a little additional heat.

Prep: a brined bird is best. Don't stuff it, but a few onions/garlic/limes/lemons inside are okay (not tightly packed). Wrap the bird well in heavy duty aluminum foil. In the old days, they would just use wet burlap, but if you want to use burlap, I'd still use the foil.
Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,476

Or, cook turkey at home in an oven and then refreeze. Then all you are doing is heating up said delicious turkey at the campfire. We did that one Thanksgiving down in Mexico while caving.

camhead · · Vandalia, Appalachia · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,240

I'll third the pit method. Or, just get a smoker that you can tend all day while resting and drinking beer.

Mitch Hoffman · · Fonda NY · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 220…

I've done the deep fryer method at home, outdoors. Very simple and the components are reusable (campground size chili pot!)
bwcasnap · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0

I've beer can grilled a turkey on a small weber grill. It's a variation on beer can chicken and requires a big can (I used Fosters). Make a lid out of tin foil if it won't fit under the grill lid or you are doing it on a grate. Not sure how you'd do this over a campfire without some sort of grate though... It takes a long time, but delicious.…

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

Make it at home, with no stuffing, wrap it up in about 10 layers of foil.... keep it cold in a ice chest. about one hour before you want to eat.... put it next to a burned down fire and toss some coals on it.... roll it over a few times.

Make instant mashed potatoes, instant stuffing, open a can of sweet potatoes, can of cran berry ...... vola... turkey for many many.

sonvclimbing · · bolder city · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 25

pathetic story about cooking a turkey:
Many years ago my girlfriend and I had just picked up a frozen turkey the morning of thanksgiving. We left for Joshua tree, with the sube's feet heaters on high defrosting our turkey. We get to joshua tree around dark and low and behold not a single spot for us to camp. We manage to find a KOA just outside the park on what seamed to be a dry lake bed, ya it sucked with only a picnic table and fire pit, with wind and sand blowing about. This was my first trip to Josh and did not know the area. Adamant about cooking my first turkey we decided to try it
The fire pit I think was a half barrel with a grate on top. Tired and cold we made a nice big fire with flames that reached probably 10 feet tall. I wrapped our turkey with probably ten layers of aluminum foil with copious amounts of butter stuffed inside. On the grate it went, engulfed in flames. For some "reason" I don't remember how long it was on and besides that I have never cooked a turkey before let alone on a bon fire before.
I do remember it tasting far better than we had expected, but then again maybe we were just hungry.

Pine Sap · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 7,190

Last Thanksgiving we were out at the Maze Overlook in Canyonlands NP. No open fires or charcoal residue permitted. We bought a couple of drumsticks on there own, a foil turkey roasting pan and charcoal. Got the charcoal going good in the pan, wrapped the drumsticks in foil and roasted them over the coals. Came out good! Not the whole turkey but a suitable substitute.

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Cut it up in pieces I say and do it like hunks of chicken. Or get coals going and your big old cast iron frying pan out with a load of oil to fry it up, piece by piece. Wrapped in foil, buried in coals, like roasting a pig might work well too.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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