Firepit Balsamic Turkey
32 degrees Celsius! An all-time record high for Calgary, for June 8. This can only mean one thing – no cooking inside tonight. What does one do when one doesn’t want to turn on the stove? One goes back to the old ways – the thing that makes camping memorable for many (and just about bearable for the rest of us). Let’s make supper over the open fire, outside. Let’s make Firepit Balsamic Turkey, with roasted vegetables all marinated and tossed in rock salt, pomegranate balsamic vinegar and sweet olive oil.
I do not know by what mysterious alchemy the smoke from a wood fire imparts such a rich and beguiling taste to everything you lay as an offering on the grill. But even the simplest of ingredients are transformed, deeply browned and caramelized, succulently juicy, with an earthily-herbed deliciousness. One could get used to cooking this way.
Firepit Balsamic Turkey not only lets you keep the stove off – it also saves on dishes. Everything gets placed in one of those aluminum baking pans (that always seemed to come with the stove, in the bottom drawer). If you don’t have one, (and even if you do), and you want to have even less dishes to wash, get one of those disposable foil roasters next time you’re at Safeway – they work just as well.
And make sure you have good little pile of dry firewood at hand for your firepit. Here goes (this recipe will feed four comfortably, especially if you add a simple salad of cucumbers and lettuce)…
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 4 large potatoes
- 3 large carrots
- 1 ½ red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
- 25 leaves of fresh basil
- 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tbsp. seasoning salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp kosher or coarse-grained salt
- 4-6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 3 tbsp. pomegranate or raspberry balsamic vinegar (Or use plain balsamic. Fruity ones just make it that much better, though. Remember what you eat with turkey at Thanksgiving – yep, there’s a reason cranberries are such a hit.)
- First, stack wood in the firepit to make a large fire. If you’re using pine or spruce, don’t light it yet. (Hardwood takes longer to burn, so if using that, go ahead and light it now).
- Peel and slice potatoes into 1/8” -1/4” slices (no thicker, or they won’t soften before they burn).
- Pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your roaster pan – approximately 1 tbsp., but more won’t hurt. You don’t want the vegetables to stick to the pan.
- Scatter the potato slices evenly into the pan, and drizzle with more olive oil.
- Sprinkle with about half the seasoning salt, and some ground black pepper.
- Peel and slice carrots into 1/8” – ¼” slices.
- Scatter carrot slices evenly on top of the potato layer.
- Crumble the raw ground turkey onto the carrot layer. This does not have to be evenly layered.
- Sprinkle turkey with the rest of the seasoning salt, and pepper.
- Lay the basil and oregano leaves evenly across the turkey. You can use dried herbs if you like, but fresh is more summery – any farmer’s market, or the grocery store’s produce section will have fresh herbs.
- Pour the balsamic vinegar and the rest of the olive oil into a coverable container. Close the lid securely and shake vigorously to blend, then pour evenly all across the top of the veggies and turkey in the pan.
- Section and slice the bell peppers into 1-2 inch pieces, and distribute them evenly over the pan.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Go out and light the fire. Let it burn down to coals – some flames here and there are still OK.
- Place the cooking grill about 2-4 inches above the coals
- Cover the pan securely with aluminum foil, and set it on the grill.
- Cook for about 18-25 minutes – but keep an eye on it. This depends totally on the heat and volume of your coals, so it’s a bit of an educated guessing game. You’ll hear it sizzling and bubbling pretty quickly after it is on the heat. With oven mitts, pick up the pan 3-4 times during the cooking process and shake the contents around, to move them and keep them from sticking to the bottom. You may need to lift a corner of the foil, and fork-test the potatoes or carrots for doneness.
When they are just tender, you’re ready to serve. Add a salad. Be proud, and thankful you didn’t have to hunt the turkey first. You’ve conquered fire and fed the family once again.