The annual day of family and food is just a week away! There are many different ways that Americans choose to cook their traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Some prefer the aroma of a slow roast, while others salivate for a deep-fried bird. There is one unique way that you may not have thought of — instead of a BBQ for the festive day, have you ever considered a Car-B-Q?
Believe it or not, cooking a full holiday meal right on your car’s engine is not only doable; it’s delicious! Here are some techniques for filling your tummies without the kitchen cleanup. We’ll also offer up our favorite concoctions for car cooking.
So, wherever you are this Thanksgiving, all you need for a hot meal is your vehicle and a little engine-uity!
Engine Cooking: Safety First
For safety, there are some practices you should adhere to when engine cooking:
First of all, NEVER poorly wrap your food or place it somewhere that may disrupt the engine’s parts.
Secondly, ALWAYS place food on the engine when it is off.
Other tips include:
- Avoid foods that contain a lot of liquid. Even if your meal is wrapped well with foil, juices could leak out onto your engine, and that’s never good.
- Place your food in a static location. Don’t pull wires or mess with any of the engine’s parts in order to make your food fit. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.
- Do not jam the accelerator linkage or block airflow. Either one of these could cause your engine to break down.
- Wrap your food items in at least 2-3 layers of foil. Foil is the main necessity when car cooking. Without lots of foil protection, do not attempt to put food on or near your engine.
- When removing the food, use tongs or oven mitts. The engine is hot and so is your food. Carefully remove, unwrap, and serve.
The Foil Cone Test
The best advice we’ve seen for calculating the size of the meal you can safely cook on your engine is a method called “The Foil Cone Test,” This quick assessment of space will ensure that you correctly cut, wrap, and cook your meal without causing a hazard for yourself or your engine.
Before trying out a full meal, do this:
- Place a “foil cone” that is approximately 5 inches tall onto the injector housing, then close the hood of the car on it. Open the hood to examine. If the cone is crushed, then you don’t have much room to cook, and your meals will need to be slim, like thin cuts of meat, fish, and sliced veggies or potatoes that can lay flat.
- If your foil cone is not crushed, then you have plenty of room to stuff your foil cones with food, but remember you’ll need extra foil so that your food does not move around or leak onto your engine.
- When securing the food, make sure it is snug and not near any moving parts. You can help secure it with additional foil or with baling wire (not any tubes or wires in your car). Use common sense.
- Pick the right meal for the trip. Some meals take longer than others—don’t plan your trip around the meal, plan the meal around the trip (next to each recipe will be approximate cooking mileage).
These tips and the following recipes can be found in the quirky and innovative book, Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine.
Road Trip Thanksgiving
To Grandmother’s House Road Turkey – Cooking Distance: 220+ miles
If you’re already planning to road trip to a relative’s house, and will be driving 200+ miles, you’ll have plenty of time to cook at least 5 pounds of turkey! With these instructions, you can roast turkey and road trip at the same time.
1 Boneless turkey breast, up to 5 lbs., sliced into thin strips against the grain
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, finely diced
Dry white wine
Flour for dredging
Butter for greasing foil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¾ cup heavy cream
- At home, combine the turkey, potatoes and carrots into a bowl with the wine and cover. Marinate two hours in the refrigerator, and then drain well (and don’t drink the wine).
- Setting the vegetables aside, dredge the turkey pieces in flour, and then heavily butter five large squares of foil. Arrange equal amounts of turkey and vegetables in each square, and season with sale and pepper as desired.
- Cup the foil around the turkey and vegetables, and pour over each serving as much heavy cream as you can without making a soupy mess, then seal carefully.
- Cook on the engine about four hours, turning once. We’re assuming grandmother doesn’t live in the next town.
Pat’s Provolone Porsche Potatoes – Cooking distance: 55 miles
What’s a turkey without sides? As an alternative to mashed potatoes with gravy, serve sliced potatoes with provolone, after cooking them on the medium-hot parts of your engine.
1/2 pound new potatoes
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 ounces grated aged provolone (or my favorite, aged cheddar)
Salt & pepper
- Peel and slice potatoes to 1.4 inch thick.
- Place in a saucepan with the milk and water and simmer 10 minutes.
- Drain, and then spread onto heavily buttered foil.
- Sprinkle with your cheese (or cheeses, experiment with flavors) and seasonings.
- Sprinkle with butter, triple-wrap and place around medium-hot parts of the engine. Delicious.
Cruise-Control Pork Tenderloin – Cooking distance: 250 miles
Looking for a different meat option to cook this Thanksgiving? “Cruise-Control Pork Tenderloin” is another car engine delight you can try out this holiday season.
1 large pork tenderloin, butterflied
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup red onion, minced
2 tsp rosemary (fresh), crushed
Salt & pepper
- Blend together all of the ingredients (except the pork) and spread across the inside of the pork tenderloin.
- Close up the pork, triple-wrap in foil and place on a medium-hot part of the engine. Turn once at 125 miles during cooking.
Engine block cooking isn’t just for long trips. For short commutes, consider heating up pre-made breakfast sandwiches or making some hot dogs. We recommend experimenting with a meal or two before using this as a reliable cooking method.
Once you have found a suitable cooking surface and successfully cooked a meal, now you can use pretty much any recipe for the oven, for your car! Click here for more car-b-q recipes. Just make sure there aren’t a lot of liquids and that the food is fully sealed.
It will take a little experimentation to get the cooking times down, but if you check the food around 10-15 minutes before it’s supposed to be done, you should be safe.
If you’ve never tried this before, we recommend these safer ideas for what to bring to Thanksgiving:
Click here for Black Friday Gift Ideas for Car-Lovers.
Wishing you safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!
Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:
Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600
Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600
Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600
Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)
Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Google+.