My son’s scout troop had a campout last weekend where we invited the webelos 2, oops now “arrow of light” scouts and parents to visit. We camped at Bert Adams and put on a bit of a show. One of the highlights was a thanksgiving feast.
Borrowing from a number of web sites and an experience with Troop 77, we did trash can turkey. It starts by using a 30 gallon or so steel trash can. First, we burnt off all the zinc from the galvanizing – which would have given the bird a funny taste, to say nothing of the trace heavy metals in raw zinc. Find a more or less flat patch of land which is more or less “sterile” (the gravel road would have been best but wasn’t an option). Drive a sharpened pole about 6 inches (10-15cm) into the ground (it should be about 40-45cm tall above ground). Cover it in heavy duty aluminum foil and then lay overlapping sheets around it to insulate the ground from the coals. (this will be clear in the pictures). Put the bird on the spike, coals on the top and the sides of the can and wait. (it is probably a very good idea to truss the bird with cotton ‘butchers twine’ as it can fall apart when well done). The bird was salted, peppered and had some butter put under the skin, but season it as you’d like. A 15 lb (7-8 kilo) bird probably takes about 2 hours, but due to other things we left it about three and a half hours. It was tender and moist (and the scouts scoffed the lot in 15 minutes).
We also did a ham. After a coating of brown sugar it was set in a scout cook-kit frying pan (no handle – a dutch oven would do as well) with canned pineapple slices below and above. This time we used a smaller 10-gallon can – again protecting the ground with layers of aluminum foil. Also lovely and tender and scoffed down in 15 minutes.
You need a shovel to move the coals around – and keep them replenished (we used about 2 bags of charcoal – though weren’t thoroughly efficient). It is also a good idea to have some heat resistant gloves to pick the cans up with.
You can wrap ears of corn and sweet potatoes in foil and cook them on top of the cans as a finishing treat.