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A Delightful Trash Can Dinner

Posted by By Kylie Blanchard 8/23/2017

Last month, my family gathered at the lake for a few days of fun together. The weather was as close to perfect as it gets (85-90 degrees with a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky), the fun was abundant (maybe too abundant, especially tubing on the lake…I am still visiting the chiropractor), and the company was great (it’s always fun to get the family together). 

We also enjoyed some wonderful meals together and one in particular was new to me, the Trash Can Dinner. Now, I know, many of you are probably thinking, “How do you make dinner in a trash can?” and, if you were me, you were also thinking, “Just any old trash can?”

My brother and brother-in-law took the lead on this one and showed me how to make Trash Can Dinner in a clean, only used for this purpose, trash can. I thought I’d share this delicious meal with you, perfect for feeding a group at the lake or while camping.

The Trash Can dinner is cooked over an open fire, so the first step is to get the fire going. Next, while off the fire, line the bottom of a galvanized trash can, in this case a 32-gallon can, with empty, rinsed pop (or other beverage) cans. Next, fill the bottom of the trash can with water until it reaches about half-way up the sides of the pop cans.

Then, it’s on to the food prep and you’ll want to start with any type of smoked meat. Make sure the meat is pre-smoked, as the time it spends in the trash can isn’t enough time to ensure raw meat is cooked thoroughly. In this case a smoked ham was used, but I was also told smoked turkey works great as well. Tie the meat in cheese cloth and set it in the middle of the trash can on top of the pop cans.

Next, add the veggies. An assortment was prepared, including potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, green beans, corn on the cob, garlic and onions (I think I covered them all). The veggies were cut into manageable chunks and each vegetable type was tied into a bundle with cheesecloth. Pieces of onion and garlic were added into the veggie bundles for extra flavor. From what I understand, you can use most any type of vegetable and everything is bundled with cheesecloth to keep it together while cooking and to make it easier to grab out of the trash can when done. 

Place the trash can on a grate over the fire and add the veggie bundles around the meat and even on top, until everything is in the can. Liquid smoke is also added to the can to boost the flavor of its contents a bit more. Cover the can tightly, keep the fire hot and let all the delicious food steam for 1.5 to 2 hours. 

When done, carefully take the trash can off the fire and pull the cheesecloth bags from the can. Cut open the cheesecloth and place the meat and veggies in a pan(s) or on a platter(s) and enjoy! It sure is delicious!

I was very impressed with my first Trash Can Dinner and I would definitely eat it again (hopefully at next year’s lake gathering). I am hoping to even try my hand at making it sometime. But I have to say, in this instance for sure, while the food was top notch, the company and memories made at the lake were even better.    

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