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A while ago we tried to cook a whole lamb in a fire pit. Basically we dug a pit about 2-2.5 feet deep, lined it with rocks to try and retain the heat, made a large fire in it, and started to drink. Then when the fire had died down a bit we lined the fire with some damp straw, put in the hessian wrapped lamb, put more damp straw on top then covered the whole thing with earth and left for 24 hours.

When we dug it up, the lamb was done beautifully on the fire side, but raw on the top.

What might we have done wrong, apart from getting drunk whilst the fire was burning? Has anyone done this before and what are the things that we should bear in mind if we do it again?

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I think that getting drunk may have been the thing you did right :) –  Adam Shiemke Jul 20 '10 at 10:48
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In the past when I've cooked in the ground I put rocks into the fire. Don't really know what sort of rocks, but I've been involved in sessions that use bricks.

Point is that you needs some way to "envelope" the heat around the thing you are cooking so what we did was put the rocks into the fire to heat them up.

Carefully remove the rocks before putting the lamb in and then put the hot rocks on top of the hessian covered meat before putting the dirt back on top.

Let it sit for a while and you should get a much more even result

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oops, forgot to say that we lined the pit with rocks before making the fire. The fire was very large, flames up to hip/chest height at its biggest, and so even when it had died down it was still substantial, so getting the rocks out would not have been possible. The idea behind the straw on top was to try and create a layer in which the air could circulate, a bit like an oven. Maybe we just didn't have enough of a layer of straw. We could have placed more rocks in the fire though and put them on the lamb then the straw on top, that would have helped keep air flowing too. nice idea... –  Sam Holder Jul 20 '10 at 9:19
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AFAIK the traditional way of cooking something in a fire pit involves building the fire on top of the buried carcass. But I might be wrong here.

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I've never heard that and I would then be concerned about the bottom of the beast not being cooked, after all heat rises... –  Sam Holder Jul 20 '10 at 9:19
    
Could always do both... –  Adam Shiemke Jul 20 '10 at 10:48
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