Bakakwa Nde-Gbashma Zhi Bij-Wabgen - Cooking Chicken in Clay


Cooking in natural clay has been used for millennia by Indigenous people all over the world. Enclosing whatever you're baking in clay acts like it's own personal oven, keeps the moisture and juices inside, and adds amazing flavor. Cooking this way is perfect for when you're hunting, camping, or just enjoying traditional foods and cooking methods.

Squash, potatoes, all kinds of fowl, meat and game, corn bread, and more can be cooked by wrapping in clay and then burying in hot coals and it's easier than you would think.


The basics of it is you enclose what you're cooking in clay and then bury in hot coals. When it's done, remove from the coals and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Tap the clay with a mallet or wooden spoon until it cracks and then peel away the clay.

I have natural clay all over our property in middle Tennessee however if you don't have clay where you are you can use potters clay. If you're using natural clay you'll want to really work the clay after soaking it overnight in a bucket. Knead it with your hands, removing any rocks or organic matter. If you're making a lot you can put the clay in a basin and stomp out with your feet. This is a great community event!


If you're cooking any kind of fowl you can keep the feathers on. Dress it (gut it) and clean it of course, but you can keep the feathers on. When it's finished cooking and when you peel the clay off, the feathers and skin will cleanly come off with the clay.

If you choose to defeather the fowl or use a store bought bird simply apply all of your seasonings and then wrap in corn husks, banana leaves, or grape leaves before you cover it with clay.

Video Instruction Here


Ingredients:

  • Chicken, game hen, sage hen, pheasant, dove, or any kind of fowl.

  • Fire Cider (or Apple Cider or Maple Vinegar)

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Ground Cayenne

  • Paprika

  • Onion powder

  • 1 onion quartered

  • Ground sage

  • Sprig of sage

  • Sprig of rosemary

  • Sprig of cedar or thyme

  • Corn husks, Banana leaves, or grape leaves (if cooking with a defeathered bird) (dried corn husks should be soaked in water at least for one hour prior)

  • 2 quarts of cleaned clay or potters clay

Instructions:

Video Instruction Here

  1. If you're using natural clay make sure to soak it over night and remove all rocks and organic matter.

  2. Get a fire going as early as possible so that you have plenty of hot coals to cover the bird in clay. You can use briquets if you would like for ease and to save time, though there's nothing like cooking on real wood coals.

  3. For a defeathered bird: rub Fire Cider (or Apple Cider or Maple Vinegar) all over the outside and inside the cavity of the bird. For a feathered bird: place 1 TBS Fire Cider inside the cavity.

4. Mix salt, pepper, cayenne, ground sage, paprika, and onion salt together and then run all over the outside of the bird. For a feathered bird; place the seasonings inside, approximately 1 TBS mixed.

5. Put the onion, sprigs of sage, rosemary, cedar and/or thyme inside of the cavity.

8. Make sure you have a nice thick layer of coals on the bottom of your fire pit with coals ready to put on top along the sides. Carefully place the clay bird in the middle of your fire pit using tongs or sticks. If you don't quite have enough to cover the bird, that's okay, you can add smaller logs to the fire on top of the bird in clay to make more coals.

7. Cover the entire bird with clay. You'll want at least 1/2 inch at the very minimum, 1 inch max. Make sure there's no air pockets by massaging the clay all over the entire bird.


8. Make sure you have a nice thick layer of coals on the bottom of your fire pit with coals ready to put on top along the sides. Carefully place the clay bird in the middle of your fire pit using tongs or sticks. If you don't quite have enough to cover the bird, that's okay, you can add smaller logs to the fire on top of the bird in clay to make more coals.


9. A whole large chicken will cook in about three hours. Smaller birds like sage hens or pheasants will take approximately 45 minutes. If you have a larger bird you'll cook longer and you may need to add wood to the coals to keep the coals hot. If cooking a larger bird (large chicken or turkey) turn the clay bird in about 2-3 hours and add more coals/wood to the fire pit. A 10 pound turkey will take about 5 hours to cook and turn the clay bird at least twice.

10. Pull the clay bird out of the coals carefully with heat safe tongs or a shovel and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. If you like you can crack open a small portion of the clay to insert a meat thermometer to double check doneness.

11. After resting, crack open the clay with a mallet or wooden spoon and gently remove the clay pieces. If you're cooking a feathered bird the feathers and skin will be removed with the clay. If you're cooking with leaves, go ahead and remove those from the bird. Carve the bird as usual and serve!

12. Enjoy!

This pairs well with corn, squash, beans, and/or wild rice.




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