Friday At Five - Chubbies Shorts

Trash Can Turkey Is the Greatest Thing to Happen to Thanksgiving Ever

By: Grant Marek
Photos via Grant Marek/Chubbies - Chubbies Friday At Five Photos via Grant Marek/Chubbies

Because every person ever who's tried to cook a Thanksgiving turkey has at one point in the process said "KEJGHIUSDBGIUSIUBGIQWIUHAISGIUSBDUGSIG," it's time we filled every person ever in on the wonder that is the Trash Can Turkey.

Because, you see, the Trash Can Turkey doesn't solve just one Thanksgiving turkey-making problem. It solves... TWO Thanksgiving turkey-making problems:

1) It frees up your oven 100% so you can make important side dishes like Rice Krispie Treats and Stouffer's Pepperoni French Bread Pizza.

2) It only takes 2 hours to cook a Trash Can Turkey, which, if you've never made a Thanksgiving turkey, IS A BIG DEAL since a regular turkey takes like 5hrs.

So how the heck do you make this thing? Well for that we turn to this guy:

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That's right, Kit's dad Dan Garton, who we called 67 times while making a Trash Can Turkey for this story.

Take it away, Dan The Man!

Lets start with embarrassing Kit stories. Kidding! Alright here's what you need:

1) 20 pound turkey

2) 20 gallon steel trash can (Note #1: plastic would be an epic mistake. Note #2: If you use a galvanized trash can, you'll need to burn off the coating in the beginning 'cause burning zinc is no bueno.... but it's easier to find a non-galvanized steel can.)

3) 20 pounds of charcoal (more is fine, less is scary)

4) A wood dowel, 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It will need to go about 6 inches into the ground and then stick up to just below the top of the can, so call it 2 1/2 to 3 feet long.

5) A full can of charcoal starter

6) Something to start the charcoal in -- the top of a weber works, or a bunch of charcoal chimneys, or etc.

7) Super heat resistant oven mittens -- ours look like rubber and you can pick up a burning coal in your hand with them

8) One roll of heavy duty aluminum foil -- widest possible.

9) A lot of beer.


Dinner t-minus3 hours: Find a place without grass -- just dirt or gravel or sand. Hammer the dowel into the ground so that the trash can fit over the exposed dowel with about 3 inches to spare. open a beer.

Dinner t-minus 2:45: Start the charcoal in your chosen receptacles. All 20 pounds have to end up white hot so be liberal with starter and maybe use multiple receptacles so it all gets going. While you are doing this, your assistants should be making a blanket of aluminum foil about 5 feet by 5 feet. To do this they take two 5-foot pieces and fold the edges together (I call it welding) to make a double wide. Then do it again, and again -- viola a 5 by 5 aluminum blanket. Certainly time for another beer.

Dinner t-minus 2:30: Take the turkey out of the wrapper (PS they take a long time to thaw, so either get an unfrozen one or reserve the bath tub for a few hours) and pull out the giblets, neck, gravy packet and whatever else is hiding inside the birds cavity. Rinse him off. Rub him with butter, or margarine if you are not from Wisconsin, or EVVO if you are from California. Salt and pepper him (you will never see him again until he is done).


Dinner t-minus 2:15: Take the aluminum blanket and skewer the dowel in the center. The blanket is now resting on the ground, dowel in the middle. Stick the bird on the dowel. This is tricky -- go up its butt hole area and maybe angle the bird slightly so the shoulder of the bird rests on the dowel. You can imagine that if you do it 100% vertical the turkey will just slip down... it will likely anyway, but that is one reason you have that nice foil.


Dinner t-minus 2:00: Assuming the charcoal has gotten going, most white, some black, but you feel good that it will all burn, put the trash can over the bird. Pick up the receptacles holding the charcoal -- this is when you will learn if your oven mitts are working -- gently pour the charcoal around the outside of the can, sort of evenly. Leave maybe two dozen coals for the top of the can. Roll/fold the foil blanket up over the charcoal, and up against the can. You now have an aluminum charcoal-filled donut surrounding a trash can with a turkey under it. Poke a few holes in the foil so the charcoal can breath. Now you can really start drinking.


During the next two hours other people can make gravy, no drippings -- sorry -- and all the other fixings. You cannot peak at your bird. The only way you can get a feeling for whether you are on track for success is to listen and sniff around the can after about an hour or so... should hear some sizzling and maybe smell turkey cooking. If yes, I would suggest you move onto hard liquor, if nothing is happening I would definitely move on to hard liquor but also check out nearby pizza parlors.

Dinner time: Get a helper to stand next to you with either decent oven gloves or several big tongs. You put those trusty super gloves on and lift the can straight up. The helper puts the grab on the bird. It may have slid down the dowel -- usually does. no sweat just pick up the two pieces and put on a huge platter. Most people say you should let it sit for 10 minutes before you carve... it's hard to do, but I try.

Good luck.