Festive jungle dining; or the demise of the feathery morning agitators

Researcher, Dale Mortiboys retells the events of cooking up a festive feast for the team on a tropical Christmas day

Four am and Christmas had barely begun when that infernal cockerel crowed. If I had but one Christmas wish, he would have crowed his last on that sunny morning amongst the trees.

We had bought several chickens to provide eggs for the kitchen and genial company for those stuck at camp. They had let us down on both counts.

Once Santa had delivered his presents our minds turned to food and the cockerel’s proud morning celebrations kept one idea constant. There would be a feast today and these birds could help! Strangely, the offending chicken and his feathered cohorts were meekly absent as we cast hungry eyes at the chicken hutch.

As Aspor gathered the chosen few for the pot, Ian and I set about creating the oven. Ian has made all mod cons available to camp Foyle and finished it off with a functional earth oven! We would use the heat of warmed stones to cook our meal. A pit was dug and lined with wood. 

Then we lit our inferno. It didn’t quite catch. We were reduced to huffing, puffing and all kinds of petrol based tricks. Flames finally in place our attentions turned to the birds.

Our supplies here are humble. Aspor had caught four chickens, but somehow the cockerel had charmed his way to freedom! I raided the supply store but found it wanting in areas such as stuffing, parsnips and brussel sprouts. So a little detour from the traditional was called for. No roast turkey but instead, steamed chicken.

Now I have made the odd treat in the kitchen, but never have I been interrupted mid marinade to go catch a snake. Rusty had spotted a black snake by our washing lines and wanted it identified. No doubt it was in search of its own festive meal. I arrived too late to see it slither off, so it remained unknown and I carried on in the kitchen.

After an amusing day digging, sweating and experimenting what goes well with canned beef we all sat down to a hearty meal. It was one of the most memorable Christmas days I have had and was wonderful fun. 

To prepare a Camp Foyle Christmas day Treat-

Pluck four annoying chickens. Marinade in steeped tea, mixed with sweet soy and diced chilli and ginger. Set aside and leave for 2hours.

Meanwhile mix in a bowl the following: Onion, garlic, ginger (all finely cut), shredded potato, sambal, Canned beef, cumin and coriander seeds, porridge oats and a little salty soy. Season to taste.

Stuff the mixture inside the chickens and place in a pre-warmed earth oven for four hours. Sit back and enjoy the jungle before serving with sautéed potatoes, boiled veg and flat breads.