Perfect Recipe for Thanksgiving Meal

PERRYSVILLE — In 1978, Shirley Lorson convinced her siblings to pack up and join her and her husband, Denzil, for a first outdoor Thanksgiving experience on the second weekend in November. While renting a few campsites at Mohican State Park, she bought a turkey, wired it to the spit, and everyone took turns flipping it over an open fire.

It was the first Jones Turkey Roast, and it’s been pretty much a family tradition ever since, with 70 friends and family from all over Ohio showing up at Pleasant Hill Campground for No. 40 last month.

Over the years the menu has changed a bit, but the mainstays of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and noodles and masses of desserts have continued. The creme de la creme is the turkey, which since that first foray has been cooked over an open fire, smoked, fried and, for the past 10 years, baked in a dumpster of all things.

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“I would say the key to a good trash turkey is preparation and teamwork,” said Billy Jones, who has been the main trash manager since the changeover in 2013. “There’s a lot of passion for everyone can enjoy it.

“Yeah, Brother Todd and I cook the turkey, but people don’t realize how much everyone brings to the table,” he continued. “Of course, it’s only two days of camping and eating, but it all shows up when we’re getting ready to sit down and eat. There is a lot of food and other things that everyone has to bring.

First Rule for a Successful Thanksgiving Meal: Don’t Forget the Bird

Preparation before turkey day is key, as everyone makes sure all the ingredients are there on the morning of the big feast. #1 on the list is the bird, usually in the 25-pound range, big enough for everyone to taste, and 1B is the metal trash can.

“The trash can usually last 4-5 years,” Jones said. “The first time we use it, we bring a torch inside to burn off all the galvanized coating. We lay down a large aluminum pan to catch as much juice as possible, as well as any legs or wings that may fall off during cooking, then hammer a stake into the pan on which we place the turkey.

As simple as it sounds, this is the tricky part of cooking the turkey because if the bird sits too close to the top of the bin, it can burn.

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“I would say this year’s pigeon was an A-minus,” Jones said. “It was a bit dark on top, we had to drive the stake in a bit more.”

Preparation of the bird is the next most important factor.

“We just use a dry rub, no oil or butter,” Jones said. “It’s so hot in there that if you put oil or butter on your bird, it will turn black.”

Art Holden

Cooking time is always a bit of a guess, but over the years experience has shown that two hours to two hours and 15 minutes is about perfect. Unlike the kitchen oven where Thanksgiving turkeys are cooked slowly and at a low temperature, the trash can oven is extremely hot and cooks the turkey much faster.

After reheating, the bird rests before being cut and served

“After a little over two hours, we remove the trash and pull the bird out of the stake, cover it and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes,” Jones said. “Then we cut it to serve.”

Billy and Todd Jones manage the temperature throughout the process, covering the top of the box with a single layer of charcoal briquettes, then surrounding the box at the bottom with several pounds of charcoal.

“It’s basically like a big Dutch oven,” Todd Jones said.

“We put foil around the bottom of the box to seal it, then put the charcoal on it,” Billy Jones said, noting that he uses about 20 pounds of charcoal each time he bakes. cook a bird. “When we do it in a ring of fire that helps keep the heat inside.”

While the trash can method is now the Jones family roast turkey technique, there was a learning curve at first. In fact, Billy and Todd gave it a try in 2013 and piled the charcoal around the trash can before lighting it. They saturated the briquettes with lighter fluid, and when they went to eat the bird hours later, it tasted like lighter fluid.

“Now we start the charcoal somewhere else, then use a shovel to put it around and over the trash can,” Billy Jones said.

Members of the Jones family get together to peel 25 pounds of potatoes for their annual turkey roast which takes place every October at Pleasant Hill Campground.  This year marked the 40th Jones Turkey Roast, as 70 friends and family showed up from all over Ohio to enjoy lunch and fellowship.

Above all, don’t look!

He also said there was another key to ensuring the perfect bird.

“You can’t peek,” he said. “Once you remove that trash can, you’re done. “

He said you’ll be able to hear the turkey sizzle a bit after about 1.5 hours, and that’s when you know things are going well. And there’s another sizzle that helps you know your trash can is ready to heat up.

“If it sizzles when you spit on the box, that’s fine,” Todd Jones said.

One thing to note about cooking times is that if the air temperature is below 40 degrees and it’s windy, you may need to leave the bin on longer.

That said, the real secret to success is summed up by Billy Jones’ wife, Steph.

“To make a good bird, you need a turkey, a trash can and a loving family.”

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving turkey turns out just as well.

Outside Correspondent Art Holden can be reached at