Feb 8, 2009

bandit roast

perhaps not appropriate for this time of year as this dish involves digging a hole into ground but here goes:

depending on how many you need/want to feed you'll need to adjust the amount of meat, i used 2 whole chicken, 4.5lb of moose (preferably a rump steak), 3lb pork (with or without bone) and 3lb lamb to feed 8 adults and 3 kids, there were plenty of leftovers

day before you plan to eat this, you'll have to find a shovel and dig a hole approx 20" deep and 25" wide to a place where there is no danger of the fire spreading. line hole with stones (flat ones work best), we did this into the kids' sandpit at the cottage by a lake...

poor kids! no more playing on this pit

preparing the first fire

take pliable sheet of wire mesh slightly bigger than hole and place onto stones bending it into the shape of pit. Start a fire in pit and keep it going for at least 6 hrs to make pit really hot. it's a good idea to use this fire to cook something else, toast marshmallows, bake bread on a stick, grill sausages…

once you get the fire going, put moose meat into re-sealable plastic bag with approx 2 cups of red wine (i'm sure you got your favourite, use that, i usually go with spanish crianza). place meat in fridge and turn a few times during next 20 or so hrs

let fire die after 6 hrs and cover pit over night with a lid, a round metal one works best, anything else goes as well as long as it won't catch fire

we didn't use a wire mesh on this one, would have made things easier if we had

next morning start fire again, this time it needs to burn approx 3 hrs. meanwhile, you can prepare the meats.

rinse and dry chickens. wash and halve 3 lemons, sprinkle salt and black pepper generously all over chickens, divide big punch of parsley in half. stuff chickens with lemon halves and parsley and place them onto parchment paper and wrap the paper around chickens making a tight package

you'll also need plenty of aluminium foil. wrap the chicken package in foil 4 to 5 times over, making a leak proof packet. take the sunday newspaper and soak in water until it is veryvery wet. take one section (8 pages spread all out) and wrap that around foil packet, repeat with 3 more sections alternating the seam side up and down, put aside

the newspaper needs to be soaking wet

before the second fire on day 2, packages in pit, wire mesh on top

remove wire mesh, hot stones (they will be VERY hot) and packages which by now have become dry and brittle on the outside. handle packages carefully, have a dish and a bowl ready once you start opening them, peel carefully layer by layer, gather juices into a bowl (separate ones for different meats), put meats on dish and let them rest under foil for 20 to 30 mins

removing the last of hot coals

carefully digging for the packages

steaming hot!

too hot to handle without gloves

the layered packaging, fiskars knife

casual setting of the table

i usually make just a few simple salads (mixed greens, german potato salad, coleslaw) and good bread to go with this. whatever wine you used in marinating is good, beer works as well

first time i made this i asked people to dress as bandits/villains, my brother was the only one who got the dressing part perfect!

obviously this is no ordinary sunday roast. i've done this at midsummer, which in our part of the world is huge deal (finland, midnight sun, magic you make in the bright night). tending the fire keeps one person busy, others can join in with, or without drinks. wherever you dig your pit and make fire, make sure you get permission to do so if you don't own the land

not into meat that much? you can make one packet with root vegetables, leave them rather big so as not to overcook them, put some olive oil or butter with thyme (or any other herb, or none at all) and salt in package. once we buried foil wrapped potatoes in the sand just next to hot stones with the last fire. they came out great, they just need turning so as not to burn on one side and remain undone on the other

sometimes i've used the juices to make gravy, sometimes strained and frozen them to use in soups later (remove any fat before freezing, though). i've also used moose and pork in same package, no reason not to use your imagination in paring meats or choosing what cuts to use, how to season, just keep in mind that whatever you bury in the pit, should take approx same time to cook. chicken and pork don't mind overcooking; they won't dry out provided you got the package tight. moose tends to get dry if overcooked, but bacon helps and the fact that it is in a package. any leftovers can be used as sandwich filler during the night, or for sturdy breakfast while nursing the traditional midsummer hangover