Rules and Traditions

When you write a recipe blog, there are certain assumed rules you should abide by:

  1. Include a recipe.
  2. Post a picture of the completed dish.
  3. As Thanksgiving nears, post more recipes than any one kitchen could possibly churn out over a lifetime of ways to make the menu “new and exciting”, or “spicy and unexpected”, or “old-world”, or “vegan, raw, turkey-shaped gluten-free quinoa loaf we promise you won’t notice there’s nothing traditional in it (or that it tastes good)”…you get where I’m going with this, right?
  4. Don’t repeat yourself too much.

I’ve been writing this blog for over six years now, or to use blogger time – 7 Thanksgivings. During that time I’ve pretty much blown every food-blogger rule above, and some I’ve made up just because I want to. Guess what kids… I’m going to do it again.

You see, I’m a big believer in traditions. So I figure, if I post the same thing several years in a row, I’m just following a time-honored tradition.

Turkey Day slacker you say? Absolutely. But let’s face it, when you are lucky enough to have participated in the annual ritual of making the featured player of Bird Day in a big ol’ garbage can, it kind of sticks with you.  Thank you, JG for making this the new gold standard. 🙂 ❤

So, here it is, making it’s annual appearance (…and trust me, it’s not the last time you’ll see it) — Hungry Readers…let’s hear it for Trash Can Turkey!


2014-11-27 15.33.54

Over the years I’ve accumulated a respectable collection of cooking gear. Some of it is top of the line, some thrift store, but each pan, bowl,  gadget and tchotchke has a role in my kitchen. I’ve never been a snob when it comes to kitchen toys. If something works, I really don’t care where it comes from or what it’s made of. Stainless, cast iron, or ceramic, if it gets the job done, it earns a space in my space-limited kitchen. This year, I’m considering adding galvanized to the list.

When I first heard about Trash Can Turkey I thought it was a joke. Surely he was pulling my leg…it sounded too much like urban legend. But then Thanksgiving drew nearer and no “just kidding” was offered. The bird ala garbage can was about to enter my life. I actually liked the concept, even before tasting the bird. If turkey is in the can, the oven is open real estate. That means no more wondering how to fit a 20 pound bird, dressing, potatoes, veggies and PIE in one oven. No more having to resort to flow charts and air traffic control algorithms to get Thanksgiving on the table.

So what is Trash Can Turkey?  It’s exactly as it sounds. Start with a new galvanized trash can (reusable for beauteous birds to come), add coals, nestle turkey on stake in the ground underneath, and a mere two and a quarter hours later…SHAZAM! A golden brown juicy beast, just aching for cranberry sauce and taters!


Trash Can Turkey

Trash Can Turkey is really more technique than recipe. Technique, and activity. What’s nicer than sitting around the hobo oven enjoying a cocktail and pondering the questions of the universe… OK, back to the bird. Prepping the turkey can be as simple as olive oil, salt and pepper, or elaborate (rubs, herbed butters, brining or whatever.) The only limitation is you’ll be sitting Tom upright on a foil covered stake, so anything you stuff in is likely to fall out his who-ha.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 20-22 lb turkey (a smaller turkey works too, adjust timing accordingly)
  • 1 new galvanized trash can
  • Aluminum foil
  • Charcoal brickettes (two bags should do)
  • 1 wooden garden stake, about 1 1/2 feet long
  • A bundt pan
  • 2 barrel slats, or pieces of 2’x4′, and two eager helpers to lift the can when the coals are ready
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever else you want to use to season the bird

2014-11-27 14.18.37Step 1: Hammer wooden garden stake into ground, leaving about a foot sticking out. Cover the stake with aluminum foil.

Step 2: Find a bundt pan you are willing to sacrifice to this application forever. A well-scrubbed thrift store find is a perfect fit. Place the bundt pan over the stake to catch the turkey drippings for gravy. (I’m told this was a recent adaption, suggested by a smart mom who knew without drippings, gravy is a very sad thing.)

2014-11-27 14.19.58Step 3: Take four sheets of foil, and cover the ground that surrounds the can – this prevents major scorched earth. Forget the foil and you will consecrate trash can turkey ground for hereafter.

Step 4: Set your trash can over the stake/bundt pan. Pile coals on top and arrange around the can, leaving about 4-5 inches of space between the coals and the can.

Step 5: Light the coals, pull up a chair and beverage of choice, warm toes and wait until the coals are ready.

2014-11-27 17.29.03Step 6: When the coals are white and glowing, use the barrel slats (or whatever you have) and two volunteers to carefully lift can off the stake. Place bird over stake and carefully replace can.

2014-11-27 17.29.15Step 7: After two and a quarter hours, (for 20-ish pound bird, or about 6-7 minutes per pound), carefully remove can and revel in the glory of the golden turkey goodness.

I may have started a doubter, but by Thursday night I was a convert. And among my list of gratitudes this year is a can, a stake, a bundt and some coals. And the man who made me my first Trash Can Turkey. 🙂

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), or my Instagram page. Thanks! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Rules and Traditions

  1. I’ve roasted a turkey once. It was a harrowing experience but the result was delicious. I didn’t realise how big turkeys are (a rubbish bin would have been handy :). )

  2. Thanks for the parody of Thanksgiving issues of cooking magazines. You nailed it (or them). We call the November issue of food magazines The Brown Issue, because all the foods are… well… brown. Except when they are beige, tan, or taupe. Good luck with your ash-can turkey.

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