Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homemade Turkey oven

My big brother is a Renaissance man and Wyoming Cowboy to the core and as much as I absolutely adore him, he puts me to shame in just about every aspect of my life!  He puts his heart and soul (and brain) into every worthwhile endeavor he has.  Right now that means being the best dad, supportive husband, volunteer coach, PTA member (I dont think he's the PTA president right now), self-employed, small business owner with impossibly difficult hours and demands (that is normal-people talk for being a rancher), horse and dog trainer, gardener and homemaker that he can be.  I'm sure I've left some important things out but you get the idea.  To illustrate, my brother visited me a little while back, I think he was picking up a horse that he was going to train as he was on the way to his kids' sporting or rodeo event (only 3 or more hours of driving for him, his wife and kids), so while he was in the neighborhood, he dropped off some garden vegetables he and his family had grown, threw in a couple bottles of jam that he had made, talked about the milestones his kids were hitting as well as some of the joys and struggles that came from coaching them, chastized me for hiding out from the PTA-saying, "You need to be more involved in your kids'education, sis!"-and then proceeded to give his two bits about his wife's demanding job schedule (she had worked all night and was now traveling all day to sit on hard bleachers and cheer on the kiddos, bless her heart), as well as some local and national educational and governmental issues.  I sat there feeling more than a tiny bit inadequate as i accepted the food and goodies and wished him, my sister-in-law and the kids good luck.  This is my brother, the Renaissance, Cowboy man.  Are you getting the picture?  

One year, my brother somehow decided that his family was going to raise a turkey for Thanksgiving and host the big event at his home.  By the time the holiday came around, this home-grown turkey, plucked and ready to cook, weighed in at over 40lbs.-Thats a big bird!  Everything is great until he realizes that this sucker is a few sizes too big for his oven!  Now this is my brother we are talking about.  He is not going to cut this bird up to make it fit in his too-small oven.  Oh no. He 
decides he needs an oven that will cook his bird as it was meant to be cooked.  Trouble is, buying something like that at an appliance store isn't really his style either.  His solution was to build one.  He cooked the turkey in his yard, and it was delicious and perfectly cooked, (as was the pepper jam he made specifically to go with it).  Afterward I thought, "That was amazing.  I need to write that down!" So here goes...


My brother used a large chunk of pipe/culvert that he had lying around (I have no clue about the exact dimensions but in my recollection it was about 3ft long and big enough in diameter to fit his turkey in.)  He gathered up two big metal plates to use on either end of the pipe to make walls and or doors (whichever he needed at the moment) and that done, He drilled a hole in the top of the pipe on one side and stuck the end of a BBQ grill thermometer in the hole so he could gauge the temperature.  He dug a pit in his yard big enough to fit bunches of firewood and the pipe with room to spare.  He decided he could use some bricks to cover the pipe and retain heat, hold the metal plates in place at either end of the  pipe and one or two of the bricks could do double duty inside holding up the cooking rack for the turkey.  He got the fire going under and all around the pipe and about 10 hours later it was hot enough to really do some cooking! (No lie, when i asked him how long it took him to get the temperature hot enough to cook it using just bits of firewood, he said "About ten hours."  Wow, I get impatient waiting for water to boil and it takes less than 10 minutes!)  Once the oven was hot enough, he popped the turkey into the pipe and let 'er cook.  The bricks did a great job holding the heat in and keeping the temperaturw fairly constant. I asked my brother how long it took to cook and he said he couldn't remember but he had done the math at the time for how many pounds at that temperature.  I decided to look it up online and although I didn't find a site that gave the spefic cook time for a 40lb. Turkey, it looks like about 4 hrs. cooking at approximately 350 degrees would do it.  Anyway, after all that, out came birdzilla , cooked to perfection!  Here's hoping your Thanksgiving  is perfect as well!   

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