Miles for Dinner – Engine cooking

I’ve met a few folks lately who have shared their experience using a unique cooking method from decades ago… cooking food on a car’s engine. This concept has always intrigued me, and I knew that I had to try it. I began to study this method and apparently it is seeing a resurgence in interest. It seems that aluminum foil is the container of choice, although tin cans work too, but vented and usually surrounded by foil to inhibit taking on any engine taste and to prevent spills. It’s best to plan ahead and scope out your engine compartment for available places to put your food bundle while it’s cool and not running. Items should not be placed where it would interfere with moving parts. It may require “wiring in” to keep the food package in place, so take care where and how you attach the wire. Most folks suggest using 3 sheets of aluminum to wrap the food, folding the seam lengthwise several times, then folding the ends several times as well. There will be variations in temperature within the engine compartment, and can be used strategically for the miles/time of your travel. I found 2 places on my engine and placed foil wrapped cobs of corn (still in their husks) on each side of the engine. I drove to an out-of-town seminar covering about 50 miles in mixed traffic. When I arrived at my destination, it was raining, so I dashed inside and initially forgot to take out my meal. When the rain stopped, I woke up to the fact that I had food waiting for me, so I dashed out to the car and lifted the hood. The engine was still quite warm, so I carefully removed the food bundles. To my delight, the corn was great! No engine taste, and very tender. Cooking in wrapped foil keeps moisture in, thus allowing a lot of latitude in the finished product. So, if this intrigues you too, be careful, but have fun trying this method. I plan to try more meals on future excursions.

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5 thoughts on “Miles for Dinner – Engine cooking

  1. My daughter and I took a road trip up northern California. I saw a recipe book a while back and just remembered about engine cooking.

    We drove a 4 Runner Truck. I used 5 sheets of foil sprayed with Pam. We successfully cooked salmon (buttered/lemon/salt/pepper).
    We also kept precooked white rice on another spot of the engine.

    We had two wonderful meals in Glacier Point in Yosemite and another meal in Tuolomme in our primitive campsite.

    I wonder if anyone has tried this on a Toyota Corolla Car. If anyone knows which spot to use – please share. Thanks

  2. I cooked my ear of corn on a 4Runner manifold… modern cars don’t seem to have as much room as the old engine compartments which my today’s standards were quite cavernous.

  3. I’ve always been too scared to do it, as I have only considered cooking fish. The fear is that the juices from the fish will leak out onto the hot engine block!

  4. I would think that watery fluids would only evaporate on the engine block but fatty liquids might be a hazard, but I would think that it would take a large volume to be a danger.

  5. There is a very good cookbook on the subject of cooking on your engine block. It is “Manifold Destiny” which came out in 1989 (ISBN 0679723374), its updated 1998 edition (ISBN 0375751408) and a 2008 update (ISBN 1416596232). A lot of fun on long road trips.

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