Man, museum educators much be a bunch of hungry, hungry hippos. I’ve seen a definite theme in this week’s challenge, and it sure looks delicious! Since I hadn’t looked at the website before embarking on my own exploration, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of folks were also thinking about foil as a cooking material.
My husband Daniel and I have often talked about cooking food while driving long distances. Evidently a large community of people online also share this curiosity: they have published their perfected means of cooking on the road. Some strap foil packs to motorcycle exhaust pipes, while others use the car cab as a giant solar cooker. We opted for another method: cooking on our 2002 Corrolla’s engine block.
First, we made a pouch with three layers of foil. I rolled the sides up really well to ensure liquids couldn’t escape.
We opted for chicken filets, frozen peas, and onion as ingredients. I’d suggest using foods with a large margin of error; our onions were a little underdone by the time we finished our project. Frozen vegetables work very well! Pre-cooked meats or small portions of raw meat would be best, if you’re an omnivore like us. We lightly coated the ingredients in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Be very sparing with your liquid content! We had a sauce for the chicken that we wanted to use–it came in an individually sealed plastic sack. Since we were really worried about liquid seeping out and burning off on the exhaust manifold, we kept the sauce in the plastic and stuck it into the packet wholesale to avoid seepage.
Next, you need to figure out where to place your fancy foil packet. Since we couldn’t locate an infrared thermometer, we used the next best thing: spit and a finger. After singing my fingers several times, I (eventually, after driving an hour only to find a cold pack of meat) found that the exhaust manifold was the optimal spot on Ol’ Faithful’s block.
The above photo is of the first, failed spot for the pack. I originally chose the “air cleaner” for a cooking surface because it sat higher than the manifold. I wanted to really squish the food into place so it wouldn’t slide out at 80 miles an hour. As noted above, halfway through our drive we discovered it to not be a great conductor. Truth be told, it made me feel better about the construction of our Toyota!
On top of the pack, we made large, loosely wadded-up balls of foil. The idea is that once you slam the hood, the balls will squish down and hold the meat in place. If you’re really nervous, make a foil cone to place on your surface. Slam the hood on the cone and use its height to determine how large your foil balls need to be. Your pack and foil balls need to be as high or higher than the profile of the squished cone.
Once in place, drive! Our meat finished cooking after about an hour of highway driving.
Delicious, delicious results.
Engine block cooking is a great way to make lunch and benefit from the co-generative properties of a somewhat inefficient machine. On an upcoming trip to Amarillo (hello, DHDC!), we’re going to make hot dogs and try to find a way to toast buns. That is, if we aren’t too full from steak at the Big Texan.
Let me know if you try this project!
-Adrienne from the Oklahoma Museum Network