Deep Pit How To
Dan and David have done it again. My brother, Dan, has been cooking Deep Pit Style for decades. It’s always for a special event where there’s going to be a big crowd. It began with the Willitts’ Pump Company Christmas Celebration. Now he’s asked to do this for wedding receptions, picnics and school or church functions. Even a rodeo! David, his youngest, has taken these photos, and provided much help too. David’s our family’s official chef.
Dan’s going to tell us about the materials to use and how to use them to achieve the right temperature and cook to perfection!
It’s that time! I have the full instructions. This is pretty foolproof. But Dan has some funny stories about first timers. Like a friend who had hoped for succulent pit style turkeys for a Thanksgiving celebration. The pit hadn’t been successfully sealed and the fire kept smoldering. When the pit cover was opened hours later only ash was left. It’s important to bring the dirt right to the very outside edges of the metal pit, the complete depth, as seen here. Otherwise air will leak into the interior and the fire will continue.
Just to clarify, we are cooking with hot ash/coals and with the heated surrounding earth. Not flame. With this said know the initial fire is key. In this 30″ diameter by 40″ deep pit Dan makes a hot oakwood or other hardwood fire and maintains this hot flaming fire for 8 to 10 hours, usually starting at 6am. Once this fire is well underway the pit is filled to the top with hardwood adding more wood as the day progresses. (Do not use pinewood.) After the 8-10 hours of burning, the coals are ready for the meat. (During the fire preparation have your burlap bags soaking in a large bucket of water for the same amount of hours.) Dan places (drops it carefully) a 26″ diameter metal plate over the ash … Lowers the wrapped meat with a hook (wrapping discussed later) onto the metal plate … Places a lid over the top of the metal pit to totally cover … And covers the lid and immediate surrounding area with dirt, packing it tightly to keep air out. Follow this packing with a good sprinkle of water. The fire and burning coals inside will eventually go out. The meat can stay in this underground oven 24 hours without overcooking or becoming cold. If the meat is placed into the pit at say 5pm it can be removed the following day anywhere from 10am to 6pm.