Trash can turkey cooking finishes a bird golden brown in about two hours
Jeff DeRitter (top) lifts trash can from turkey. Kathy (Jeff's wife) and Jeff prepare to cut up the turkey.
Thanksgiving brought together a number of friends and neighbors, and a part of the get-together is turkey. The same happens for Christmas and turkey is a part.
These are the plump domestic variety, not the lean dark meat wild variety taken during spring or fall hunting seasons.
My friend Jeff DeRitter utilizes a special method of preparing a turkey for our gathering. It is not only turkey cooking, it is fun and socialization.
In Jeff’s case, it is a way to cook a big bird and pass time, while the ladies are preparing the rest of the meal inside.
Jeff calls it trash can cooking. It requires a clean large metal trash can. -- the type most people used before plastic versions began to take over the world.
On a level site where you can make a bit of a mess, drive a large metal stake vertically into the ground. The stake must be able to hold a turkey, and the portion above the ground can be no longer than the trash can is tall when the can is turned upside down.
At the base of the stake place a couple of bricks wrapped in aluminum foil. When the turkey is placed on the stake it may slide down to the aluminum foil, but will be protected from touching the ground.
Another option Jeff used this year was to place the turkey on a bundt cake pan and a deep fryer pan with holes to drain any liquid. A can of beer (just the beer, not the can) goes into the bundt pan.
Jeff does very little seasoning of the turkey, but it can be seasoned to taste.
The trash can is placed upside down over the turkey, fitting evenly to the ground.
A sizable amount of charcoal is started burning in advance. Coals are placed on top of the trash can much like they are placed on the top of a dutch oven. Coals also are placed surrounding the base and touching against the can.
Surprisingly, it takes only a couple hours to completely cook a 20-pound turkey. It will be delicious.
Once the charcoal is placed on the can, another important function takes places. With lawn chairs in place, it is like sitting around a campfire.
Tales are told, coffee sipped, and maybe even a touch of adult beverage consumed.
The weather may be nippy, but the wait for turkey is fun while enjoying the outdoor experience.
Jeff cooks his holiday turkeys at the Harbor RV Resort on Lake Rosalie in Florida where a number of us winter, but he also has done the same at deer camps in Michigan during cold weather.
Eating a turkey from a trash can initially sound unappetizing, but meat is mighty tasty.