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How To Cook A Thanksgiving Meal On Your Car’s Engine

By Aaron Crowe

Cooking a Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re driving for four hours or so on Thanksgiving Day, let the car do the cooking for you.

While it may not sound appetizing, cooking on a car’s engine can be done safely, according to experts.

There are some caveats: You won’t be able to fit a whole turkey on the engine block, and you’ll have to drive for four hours.

But if you’re willing to give it a try — and your relatives and friends are too when you arrive at their home — then a boneless, 5-pound turkey breast with vegetables can be cooked on the drive to grandma’s house.

For a long-winded video introduction on how to cook a Thanksgiving meal in the car, try this three-part series on YouTube. It’s informative but takes a while to get through.

It might be quicker to try finding the 2008 book “Manifold Destiny,” which has a recipe that USA Today wrote about in 2009. Here’s the recipe:

To Grandmother’s House Road Turkey

  • 1 Boneless turkey breast, about five pounds, 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
  • Three-quarters cup heavy cream

1. At home, combine the turkey, potatoes and carrots into a bowl with the wine and cover. Marinate two hours in the refrigerator, then drain well (and don’t drink the wine). Setting the vegetables aside, dredge the turkey pieces in flour, 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.

2. Cook on the engine about four hours, turning once. We’re assuming grandmother doesn’t live in the next town.

That’s it. Make sure the food doesn’t block air flow or engine wires, and be sure to turn the engine off when turning the meal when it’s halfway done. Side dishes will have to be made at grandma’s house, or someone else can warm a side dish on their engine.

Other ways to cook

Cooking on a car engine isn’t the only odd way to cook a turkey. If your oven doesn’t work properly, as happened to Larry and Rachel Gebaide when they opened their catering business, Tastebuds Catering, in Florida in 1995.

An oven they bought had only one temperature — broil. Larry Gebaide cut a turkey in half and used a dry run of seasoning and flour to took half of a turkey on the bottom shelf of the oven under the broiler for about an hour. He put the turkey in pan with about three inches of water and basted it every 20 minutes. Once the bird was browned he covered it with aluminum foil. The oven got to about 475 degrees with only the broiler on, Gebaide says.

“Out of desperation you try different things, and it just happened to work,” he says.

The caterer continues cooking turkeys at a high temperature — 450 degrees — allowing him to cook a full turkey in half the time it would normally take.

“It works well and we’ve been doing this for for 18 years,” Gebaide says.

For truck drivers who are stuck on the road on Thanksgiving Day, cooking a Thanksgiving meal on their engine may not be an appealing idea if they don’t want to drive on the holiday.

The website Truck-Drivers-Money-Savings-Tips.com doesn’t recommend cooking on an engine, but it offers meal preparation tips for cooking in the tight space of a truck cab or sleeper berth area by using appliances powered through an inverter that can plug into a cigarette lighter or to one of the truck’s batteries.

A portable outdoor grill may be the easiest way to cook on the road, though it doesn’t sound as exciting as cooking on your car engine.

Aaron Crowe is a writer in the Bay Area who specializes in personal finance topics for CheapCarInsurance.net.