Milk Can Cook'n

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The Cooking Cardiologist, Dr. Richard Collins, shows us how.

Ogallala Cream Can Supper

Right now, Colorado’s Farmer’s Markets are full of gorgeous fruits and vegetables at their peak, which means it is the best time for eating. But instead of turning on the grill, here’s an idea that literally brings the farm-to-the table (or outdoor kitchen.)

A couple of years ago, I discovered a cooking method that originated on Midwestern farms, which uses a steaming technique via a ‘Milk Can.’ Think of it as science meets your farmer’s market.

Milk cans are difficult to find these days, but there is a company in Ogallala, Nebraska that has kept the tradition alive. Made with stainless steel and are safe, these milk cans are truly an innovative culinary example of steam cooking at it’s finest:

Please note: Avoid the antique store milk cans as those are not recommended and were not galvanized, so don’t purchase a painted rusted out milk can for this purpose.

This recipe is heart healthier than the typical midwestern fare. We are replacing high fat sausages with nitrate free varieties, such as a chicken or a turkey sausage or select leaner Bison Brats.


Here’s what to look for on the sausage nutrition label:

1. Make sure it is a nitrite/nitrate free sausage

2. Buy pre-cooked.

3. Fat content needs to be below 12 grams.

4. Watch the salt. Don’t exceed 300-400 mg.

Have fun with this cooking experiment, as this is a truly one to awe and inspire!



4 32-ounce cartons of low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

12 ears of sweet corn, shucked

12 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and quartered

3 pounds washed cut carrots, 2-3 inch lengths

4 medium onions, peeled and quartered (can also use red onions)

2 green peppers, seeded, coarsely cut

2 red peppers, seeded, coarsely cut

1 head green cabbage, cored, quartered (optional)

2 stalks of celery (the entire bunch, not 2 sticks), chopped

4 small zucchini squash, large chopped
Optional vegetables: sweet potatoes, fennel bulbs, or large Portobello mushrooms

Sage, rosemary and thyme wrapped in a twine bundle

1-2 packages of bison brats (Southwest Chipotle from Whole foods) or 1-2 packages of Applegate chicken sausages…roasted red pepper or chicken/turkey apple variety, cut each brat in half.

Cooking Technique:

Start by placing a collapsible steamer basket in the bottom of the milk can. It should unfold to 12 inches.

Place all ingredients in the milk can starting from the top of the list, start with the broth. Corn should be placed next after the broth, as larger pieces go in first. Begin loading the can and finish with the sausages on top with the lid.

Ignite the propane burner to medium high heat. When steam develops approximately 30 minutes, time the cooking process for 30-45 minutes depending upon the amount filled in the milk can. For a quarter of the recipe, it should only be about 25 minutes. Don’t over cook.

Caution: Steam is very, very hot! Avoid direct contact by face over the milk can. Wear protective gloves. Let the milk can cool for 5-10 minutes and then pour contents into a very large container such as a 30-inch pan at least 3 inches high or very large pan.

Again, be careful, steam is HOT. Use gloves and have assistance. Don’t place the lid on too tightly and follow manufacturers directions fully.


!Recipe should serve 20-25 people. Halve the recipe for 6-10 people.