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Campfire Turkey How To Cook Your Own

Updated on July 9, 2014

What Is A Campfire Turkey

Campfire turkey is just what the title says - a turkey cooked in the outdoors over an open fire. Many different foods can be cooked in various ways by an open fire in the outdoors, but certain cooking methods work better than others for some foods. I have chosen to use the spit style method of cooking for my turkey rather than the other known methods like burring it under a hot coal bed or frying it in a frying pan. By using the spit method I have more control over the entire cooking process and can cook my turkey to my idea of perfection.

Once I set up my steel rotisserie rod and put my turkey on it I can monitor the whole turkey while it is cooking. If the turkey needs more heat on one side, I can turn the turkey by rotating the rod. When the entire turkey is visually a nice golden brown in colour it will be cooked to perfection and ready to eat.

Campfire Turkey Cooking

Building A Big Campfire

To get a large coal bed so you can cook with heat you first need to build a large fire and let it burn down.
To get a large coal bed so you can cook with heat you first need to build a large fire and let it burn down.

Making A Red HOT Coal Bed

Once the wood has burned up the flames will be very small, leaving a good coal bed which produces a tremendous amount of heat to cook with.
Once the wood has burned up the flames will be very small, leaving a good coal bed which produces a tremendous amount of heat to cook with.

Preparing The Fire

One of the most important things to remember when you are cooking on a spit over an open fire is that you do not want to cook with the flames. If the flames of the fire contact the turkey they will only burn the outside skin of your turkey that is on the rotisserie. You want to cook with heat not fire. The heat that you want will come from building a good bed of red hot coals under your spit.

To get a good bed of coals in your fire pit begin by building a large campfire and letting it burn down until the flames are very low. After you have a good coal bed continue to add a few small sticks periodically to your coal bed to maintain it throughout the hours of the cooking process.

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Putting The Turkey On The Rotisserie Rod

I like to clean the steel rod before inserting it into the turkey. After sliding the rod through the turkey I secure the turkey to the rod with a wire that goes through the side of the turkey and through a hole in the steel rod.
I like to clean the steel rod before inserting it into the turkey. After sliding the rod through the turkey I secure the turkey to the rod with a wire that goes through the side of the turkey and through a hole in the steel rod.

Setting Up The Spit

Two large wooden blocks will hold my rotisserie rod over the fire pit. I have hammered two nails into each wooden block to position the rod keeping it from falling off of the block while it is being turned.
Two large wooden blocks will hold my rotisserie rod over the fire pit. I have hammered two nails into each wooden block to position the rod keeping it from falling off of the block while it is being turned.

Turkey On Rotisserie Rod

The turkey is secured to the rotisserie rod and ready to be placed on the 2 large wooden blocks that I have set up beside my fire pit.
The turkey is secured to the rotisserie rod and ready to be placed on the 2 large wooden blocks that I have set up beside my fire pit.

Putting The Turkey On The Rotisserie

Because I am putting the turkey on a rotisserie I have wrapped the stuffing for the turkey into an aluminium foil making a ball and then I inserted the ball of stuffing into the cavity of the turkey. Using this method for stuffing the turkey prevents the stuffing from falling out of the turkey cavity into the fire pit while cooking. The rotisserie I am using I made quite simply from a piece of 1/2 inch galvanized water pipe that I had in my storage shed. I drilled a 1/4 inch hole in the centre of the pipe through both walls of the pipe for inserting a heavy gauge wire which I will use to secure the rod to the turkey. The turkey must be fastened to the rotisserie rod or the rod will only spin around inside the turkey when I am turning the rod. After inserting the rod through the cavity of the turkey from the back to the breast opening I insert the heavy gauge wire through the side of the turkey just under the wing and through the hole that I drilled in the steel pipe. Once the wire is through both sides of the turkey I bend the wire slightly so that it cannot fall out of the pipe and the turkey. Now I am ready to place the rotisserie rod and turkey onto the blocks that I have set up beside my fire pit to support the rod above the coal bed.

Putting The Rod On The Blocks

I set the rotisserie rod between the positioning nails that I have hammered into the wooden blocks.
I set the rotisserie rod between the positioning nails that I have hammered into the wooden blocks.

Cooking The Turkey

Now that the turkey is on the spit all I have to do is rotate it as it begins cooking and continue adding some wood to the coal bed to keep the heat from getting to low. I like to rotate the turkey one quarter turn about every 15 minutes. However, if the turkey appears to be getting over cooked on the bottom side from too much heat, I will rotate it to avoid burning. If the turkey is taking too long to cook then I will add more wood to the coal bed to produce more heat. Adding wood to the coal bed I must be cautious not to add too much wood which will produce high flames that may contact the skin of the turkey. I do not want any flames to make contact with the turkey because the flames will only burn the outside of the turkey quickly without cooking it on the inside. I only want the heat rising up from the hot bed of coals to do my cooking.

As The Turkey Cooks On The Spit

I turn the turkey one quarter turn about every 15 minutes to allow it to cook on all sides. The coal bed must be maintained by adding small amounts of wood to to keep the heat up high.
I turn the turkey one quarter turn about every 15 minutes to allow it to cook on all sides. The coal bed must be maintained by adding small amounts of wood to to keep the heat up high.

Finished Cooking

Once the turkey is a nice even colour of golden brown on all sides it should be finished cooking.
Once the turkey is a nice even colour of golden brown on all sides it should be finished cooking.

2 1/2 To 3 Hours Later

The entire cooking process for the turkey requires about 2 1/2 to 3 hours of time and takes many rotations on the spit. During the last hour of cooking I rotated the turkey more frequently to avoid its outer skin from becoming too dark and burning. I added no spices or seasoning in cooking my turkey, but the turkey remained moist enough throughout the cooking process that it would have absorbed any seasoning I desired to use had I chose to use some. When I carved the turkey I was impressed with the amount of juices still in the meat. I believe that I could have cooked the turkey no better in an conventional home oven. It was delicious!

Ready To Serve

Let's go eat!
Let's go eat!

Questions or Comments?

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

How To Pam

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Pamela,

      What a great read. I loved every syllable. And the topic, cooked turkey over an outside fire.

      I voted up and away.

      I admire your in-depth style of writing. I left you some fan mail and now following you.

      I cordially invite you to look at a few of my works and be one of my followers. That would make my day.

      Best of everything on Hubs.

      Peace.

      K.

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