Thanksgiving really snuck up on us this year. Last week I realized Thanksgiving was just around the corner and thought – the last thing I want to do is babysit a turkey in the oven. Then a friend posted about her school’s Hawaiian studies fundraiser – an opportunity to have imu-roasted turkey!
What is an imu? An imu is a temporary underground oven where you cook meat underground. The students dug a large pit by hand in one corner of the school property. Then they built a fire with local kiawe wood, surrounded by (porous) lava rock. Once the rocks are red hot and the fire burned down, they spread spread out the rocks, lay banana tree stalks and leaves on it. They placed the foil-wrapped meat packs on top of that, covered them with banana leaves, wet guinea-sacks, and finally with a tarp. Then the tarp was weighed down along the edges with dirt to help keep the heat in and other things out.
Here are the instructions we received:
Please deliver pans between 400 -700 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. The imu is located near the upper soccer field. We have a staging area behind the backstop. We plan to close the imu at 8:00pm on Wednesday night and open Thursday morning 8:30-9:00 a.m. Here are some instructions for preparing the turkey.
1. Thaw Turkeys. You can put the turkeys in the fridge on Sunday night. If not, you may thaw turkey in a cooler on Monday and leave in there until the turkey thaws and prepare turkey on Wednesday afternoon.
2. Put turkeys in a heavy-duty disposable aluminum pan (the ones with handles makes it easier to handle).
3. Season turkey to your liking. For example, rub Hawaiian salt all over the bird including the inside. Next, rub oyster sauce all over the bird including the inside. Again, seasoning is up to your taste. There are many ways to prepare the turkey. Hawaiian salt is the most common. Last year we attempted a vinha dʻalhos turkey. We donʻt recommend this type of turkey for the imu.
4. Double wrap the whole pan in aluminum foil.
5. Bring pan to the imu. Weʻll tie string and identify the pans with a name tag.
6. Arrive Thursday morning 9:00-1030 a.m. to pick up turkeys at same location.
It was pouring rain on the drive upcountry yesterday, but I was rewarded by beautiful rainbows. I dropped off my turkey, then this morning I drove up and arrived just in time for the imu to be unearthed. I sure enjoyed it.
How is our turkey? It is amazing! The turkey is a little smokey and has a slightly different flavor – I imagine from the banana leaves. The meat just falls right off the bones. Yum!