Trash Can Turkey
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We'd been hearing about this for a number of years, and finally decided to give it a try ourselves on a recent camp out.  It turns out it was amazingly simple... almost fool proof.

A search on the web will give you dozens of variations on this theme, and I'm sure that based on our success that many of the other ways will work as well.  Even so, here are the steps we went through in case anybody else wants to give this a try. 

Notice that the steps below allow for a lot of parallel activity.  You could have one team doing the coals, another doing site prep, and another working the bird, all at the same time.

bulletStart off  by getting a steel garbage can.  This is not nearly as easy as it sounds.  I had to visit almost a half dozen stores before finding one.  Nearly everything out there these days is made of plastic.  A number of web sites suggest pre-cooking the can so that you can burn off whatever plastic or such may be leftover from the manufacturing process.  (All we did was wash it out, and we noticed no problems whatsoever.)
bulletMake a pile of charcoal and start it burning.  Do this now, early in your effort.  It takes about half an hour for the coals to get nice and hot, and it will take only that long to do the rest of these steps.  (This is the only thing we neglected to do, as shown in the photos.  It's the only thing we'd do different the next time we're out.)  Just make a pile of about 1.5 bags, and start them up.
bulletGet a strong stick and drive it into the ground so that about a foot and a half or so are left visible.  We used an old broom handle, but I'm sure anything sturdy will do. 
bulletCover the top of the handle with some tin foil, so that whatever's on the stick (varnish, etc) won't be in direct contact with the bird.
bulletCover the ground around the stick with tin foil.  We did our cooking in the existing fire pit at the site, so it made all these steps pretty easy.
bulletPrepare the bird.  All we did was cover it with butter and seasoned salt, inside and out.  We draped a couple strips of bacon over the top, thinking it would add flavor, but it really wasn't at all necessary.   Be creative, or keep it simple... it's your choice. Remember: there is no stuffing!  If you want stuffing, make it elsewhere.
bulletShove a ball of tinfoil inside the bird.  make it about the size of a whiffle ball, and use it to clog the neck opening.
bulletSet the bird on the stick.  It will look goofy, just hanging there.  If you want to use cotton string or other means of pinning the wings to the body, go for it, but it really wasn't necessary.
bulletPut the garbage can over the bird.  Some people recommend having a tin of water, or even wet wood chips hanging out inside to help keep it moist and perhaps add a nice smokey quality.  You're choice.  Heck, while you're at it, you could oil up lots of garlic cloves and just lay them out on the foil to add even more flavor.
bulletArrange the coals around and on top of the can.  Using a shovel, take your (now hot) coals and lay them right up against the edge of the can all the way around... 3-5 inches should be fine, but have them rest against the can.  Make a similar pile right on top as well.
bulletHang out.  This was actually the toughest part... how long were we supposed to wait!?  It's not like you can check in on it by just opening the door of the oven.  Guidelines and folklore are all over the map about this part of it.  You'll hear it starting to cook within 20 minutes.  In our case, on a chilly day and starting with a cold 20 pound bird, it was done in about 3 hours... much less time than if we'd done it in an oven.  There is no basting or anything.  It would probably have been done sooner if we'd not let curiosity get the better of us causing us to peek a couple times and lose all the heat.
bulletAdjust coals as necessary.  Every 15 minutes or so, just do a survey and add new coals to the top and sides as you want.  One person could do this while the rest of the gang is out on a hike or something.  There's really nothing to do during this part, except salivate.
bulletEat like kings.  Take advantage of all the extra time to fix the rest of your feast.  We had some killer garlic mashed potatoes, and brought pre-made gravy that we heated up.  At this point, you're on your own.  :-)


this method
was written up
in Men's Health
Magazine for
their November
2010 issue!