Woodee Christmas Dinner
Did you know that you can cook your whole Christmas dinner outdoors over fire in your fire pit? Turkey, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing and all the vegetables! If you're feeling adventurous give it a go this year and join thousands of people who swear by it. I promise you'll love it - it could be the start of a new family tradition.
You will need:1 turkey crown – 2kg (4 – 6 people)
1 quantity of sausage meat
Pre prepared chestnuts
Carrots – heritage or coloured
Zest of an orange
Rape seed oil
Goose or duck fat
Pigs in blankets – chipolata sausages wrapped in streaky bacon
Charlotte potatoes - cut in half
Thyme, sage, and herbs of your choice
Salt and pepper
First prepare your fire. We use charcoal for this recipe as it gives a good even heat over a sustained period. You need to light your fire around 40 minutes before you begin cooking.
Next prepare the turkey crown. Pat the turkey dry with kitchen paper to get rid of all the moisture. In the neck cavity put in the sausage meat stuffing. This can be plain sausage meat or you can add some herbs to it. The stuffing will help keep the bird moist. Tuck the neck flaps underneath the bird. Next put some chopped celery, carrots and onions in the back cavity and add some thyme and sage. Season the bird with salt and pepper. Then spread some softened butter all over it. Add some rashers of streaky bacon on the top to protect it
In a dutch oven (we use a 6 quart size) put more onion, carrots, celery and thyme in the base for the turkey to sit on. This protects the bird from getting burnt. Place the turkey on the top and add 2-3cm depth of cold water to the bottom. Put the lid on.
Rake the charcoal embers away from center of the fire to the outside, leaving a clear space for the dutch oven. Now place the dutch oven in this space. To help brown the turkey breast put some hot embers on the lid of the dutch oven. It should take around an hour to cook depending on heat of fire and the weather conditions. During the cooking process add more charcoal as and when necessary to keep fire going.
Next prepare the vegetables. Cut the Charlotte potatoes in half, leaving their skins on. Cut a square of double thickness of tin foil and put the potatoes into the centre. Add a few sprigs of thyme, a couple of tablespoons of goose or duck fat and salt and pepper. Now fold the foil into a parcel, gathering it up from corner to corner. Ensure the parcel is sealed, leaving room for steam. Put to one side
Now prepare your carrots. We use multicoloured heritage carrots from our local farm shop. Peel and cut longways then make a parcel the same as you did for the potatoes. Add a good amount of butter, orange zest and salt and pepper then seal the parcel, again ensuring space for steam. Put to one side
Now to make your pigs in blankets. You can use shop bought pigs in blankets or you can make your own out of chipolata sausages wrapped with streaky bacon. Making your third foil parcel, put them in on their own; they don’t need any butter or oil as they will produce their own. Seal the parcel and put to one side
Once you have all your foil parcels ready, give them a shake. Rake away the coals from three areas of the fire pit and place the parcels directly onto the base of the fire pit. They will take 40-50 minutes. Periodically give them a shake and give them a half turn so they cook evenly.
Check the heat in the fire pit and add a little more charcoal to keep it going. After ½ hour check everything. Carefully unwrap the foil parcels (if you break it just add another layer of foil). Give them all a good shake to ensure everything gets coated and cooks evenly. Wrap them back up, put them back into fire pit and give them another half turn.
Next check the turkey. Carefully take the dutch oven out of the fire pit using gloves. If there is still moisture in the dutch oven put the lid back on and return to the fire pit. If it is dry add a little more water. At this point change the coals on the top of the lid as they will have gone cold. Then add a bit more charcoal to the fire pit. After another 10 mins shake and turn each tin foil parcel.
About 10-15 mins before the turkey is cooked its time to cook the sprouts. Add the lid to the top of the fire pit and let it heat up for 5 minutes. Add a little oil and a knob of butter to the centre. When butter starts to melt you are ready to start cooking.
Prepare the sprouts and cut them in half so they cook quicker. Slice the prepared and peeled chestnuts and set aside. When the butter is melted add the sprouts (you don’t want it too hot or it will burn). Toss them in oil and butter so they are well coated. Add a little drop of water to create a little steam to help with the cooking process. Keep tossing them around to cook. When they are nearly cooked, add in the chestnuts and season with salt and pepper. When cooked through remove them from the heat and keep warm.
Remove all foil parcels from the fire and put them under fire pit to keep warm. Take out the dutch oven and remove the lid. The turkey should be brown on top. Remove the bird from the dutch oven into a tin tray, covering it in foil. Put it underneath the fire pit to keep warm.
Pay attention to your fire. Drag all the coals to centre together to allow the fire to heat up.
Now to make the gravy. Take the vegetables out of the dutch oven and set aside. Add a tablespoon of flour and mix in with the juices to make a paste. Add some water and mix well. Now put the dutch oven back in the fire pit on the central coals. Add more water to get to the desired consistency. Bring the gravy to the boil and keep stirring to prevent lumps. Take the dutch oven off the heat and pour the gravy into a gravy boat.
Time to plate up! Start with the turkey and add your vegetables and pigs in blankets around it. Garnish with parsley. Carve and enjoy with that delicious gravy. Enjoy!