Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Earth Oven: Cooking In The Ground (again!)

Epic wins and some minor fails! This 4th of July me and Bort re-visited the successful Earth Oven project we tried last summer ... for those of ya'll who missed it, who loved it, and who want to trouble shoot this labor intensive way of cooking here is how we did it this time....

THE EARTH OVEN:::::::::::::
The first step is to grab some shovels and do some intense diggin' - this time we made the hole less wide but very deep, keeping in mind what would be put in there to cook. I think this hole (in the pic below) was maybe 2-3 wide and the same deep. But ya'll know I can't do math, so this is a rough guess.
The second step, is to gather alot of good rocks to line the hole with. The rocks will hold the heat in better and release it for cooking!
The third step is to gather wood! Lots of kindling to get a raging fire started and stack up some good burning logs in the hole. The process of the fire takes many hours because as it burns down, you have to keep adding more and more logs, sticks, wood in order to make it hotter, and create more coals. FOR HOURS, the longer the better! We let this one burn for maybe 5 hours, but more burning time = better cookin'.
Eventually the fire will burn down to just hot coals in the bottom of the hole.... we made sure the fire would not spread either, by hosing down the area around it (since the grass and flora has been really dry lately!)
The fourth step ya gotta do is once it gets close to the time the fire is going to burn itself out, start gathering plants that are safe to put in the hole with the food --- things like thistle, nettles, bamboo leaves, burdock leaves (in tropical places big banana leaves would be great)... these plants will create steam in the earth oven to help cook the food. Indigenous people would wrap their meat in the leaves to protect it from the dirt.
ALL BURNED and Ready! ::::::::::
Once your fire is burned out and there is a pile of hot coals, now is the time to start layering the flora on top! This part should go rather quickly so that too much steam does not escape right at the beginning....
So the fifth step is to put the greenery in fast as ya can! Bort in the pic below is putting tons of bamboo leaves in first...
He wrapped his food in foil ---> what he wanted to cook for the party was two chickens, a buncha' ribs, corn and some veggies!
The food was placed in the center, and then more greens were put on top!
Which leads to the sixth step ::: THE BURIAL!
Steam will be rising, we just kept on shoveling the dirt back on top till no more steam could escape! That is why it's helpful to keep the dirt you originally dig out in a neat pile next to the hole...
ALL DONE, and time for it to cook!
We waited from about 2 pm to 8 pm before preparing to dig up the food and see if it worked!
The last step on the earth oven TO DO list.... dig that shit up!
All dressed up for the party with a tiny audience of friends & family we got to diggin' up the chickens, ribs and veggies to see if it worked...
we dug up the dirt, then carefully pulled up the steamed to death greens we had layered. Here is where we learned a few things for later trouble shooting....
1. If you wrap your food in foil or leaves, make sure you wrap it VERY tightly- because dirt can get into your food.
2. The type of wood you use may make a difference on the amount of heat- just like when burning for house heat certain types of wood like locust, walnut, hickory will burn hotter then other softer wood.
3. Timing is everything! Make sure you have enough time to really have your fire going for many hours and be able to leave the food in for MANY hours - that way all your work will be worth it! Be aware that the thicker the meat/food the longer it may take to cook.
4. This round we forgot to put a pile of rocks directly on top the food before the flora and burying, more rocks= better oven!
For us, the ribs were cooked to perfection, but the two chickens stuffed with veggies didn't cook all the way to the middle (for reasons listed in the trouble shooting above, like not enough hard woods, not enough coooking time for the thickness.) For some reason also, the packet of veggies didn't cook, but the corn on the cob did.
BON APETITE! In my mind, it was way more a success then a fail! TOtaLLy worth the fun!
Smooches Xoxoxo


Convert Cooks said...

Here I am doing it the old fashioned way...in a JennAir Convection Oven! Will a Carrot Cake work in there? Hmmmm? I wonder...miss you already.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

HEy Convert Cooks!
I bet ya could do a carrot cake in there, if it was in some high heat cermaic dish. That would be a cool experiment.
Can't wait to see your new website about the convertable recipes with gluten free versions!!!!!