Can Cooker Feeds Whole Clan
Dr. John Woods 03.04.14
It always seems to be a chore to cook for everyone that shows up at the hunting or fishing camp or other family event. You can just about mess up every pot and pan in the kitchen trying to fix something that will appeal to (nearly) everyone.
Well, now that problem can be solved with a relatively new cooking tool on the market: the Can Cooker. Invented and refined by Seth McGinn, this unique steam driven “milk can” cooker will fix a whole meal at one time.
The Can Cooker looks like an old fashioned milk can, because while working a cattle operation as a young boy back in Nebraska, Seth’s crew would pile ingredients into a real milk can and set it on the open fire while they worked branding cows. By noon the whole dinner was ready to be served. He got the idea to update the concept and produced the Can Cooker.
Built out of food grade anodized aluminum, the Can Cooker can be filled up with hundreds of recipes and then put on a variety of heat sources. This might be a conventional electric or gas stove top, a campfire, camp grill, or propane cooker.
The contents are brought to a boil, as indicated by white steam escaping the vent on the top of the clamped cover. Once the steam starts, the Can Cooker is allowed to cook for roughly an hour, and then it’s set aside for five minutes to cool off. Indeed the Cooker will be steaming hot, no pun intended, so caution must be used when unclamping the top to remove.
Ingredients can be ladled out into big bowls or onto a regular dinner plate. Add a salad, rolls, and some iced tea and the gig is on.
Using the Can Cooker is easy. The biggest issue is prepping all the foods you might want to include in the recipe. First, the inside of the Cooker is sprayed with a vegetable oil cooking spray so the food will not stick to the sides. There is an optional grate for the bottom of the unit that will keep food from sticking or burning on the bottom, but using steam generally prevents this. If you are just cooking meat, the grill is a good optional accessory.
After spraying the cooking oil, begin to stack up the ingredients of your recipe. All vegetables should go first. This could be potatoes, onions, corn on the cob, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, squash, beans or anything else you like. I add seasoning on each layer as I work up, loading the container about half way. Then I add the meat. Try putting a whole stick of butter on the top of everything.
Again, any meat selection is good. Chicken, beef, pork, venison, elk, sausages, fish, shrimp, or a combination are good choices to start off. The Can Cooker comes with a recipe and use guide, but creativity is the spice of life as they say. Season again as desired. I go heavy on garlic powder. Cover the ingredients with liquid. Here multiple options can be used such as plain water, beer, broth, or juices.
Put the Can Cooker on the heat source and turn it up. Watch for the telltale sign of steam coming out the vent hole on the top cover. Once the steam is venting in full force, turn down the heat but maintain the steam coming out of the vent. Recipes vary, but the cooking time is roughly an hour.
After that time frame, remove the Cooker from the heat and set aside to cool down. Use oven mitts to handle the side handles on the cooker when moving from the heat and to release the lid clamps on the side. Be careful when removing the lid cover as steam will escape.
The first recipe I tried was a mix of Can Cooker recipe and personal touches. I made a sort of gumbo with chicken, smoked sausage, and shrimp. I put in potatoes, tomatoes, onions, corn on the cob, and two bags of frozen okra. I added plenty of garlic powder and some Cajun spices. I used a can of chicken broth and two cans of water to cover the food. I cannot faithfully describe how good this recipe turned out. The crew at the deer camp loved it.