The red-orange flames licking the pan, the bed of black coals roasting, the salty char of the smoke—there’s nothing better than campfire cooking in the summer. Cooking over a fire in the great outdoors doesn’t have to be arduous, and, as these outdoor enthusiasts will attest, it certainly doesn’t have to mean using the wieners and beans menu of cowboys past.
Smooth camping trips start with a list. In her post 6 Tips for Gourmet Campfire Cuisine, Nancy Einhart says even though you want to get away from the scheduling and business of everyday life at your campsite, meal times will be so much easier when you plan ahead.
“There’s nothing worse than getting out to the site and realizing you forgot something you’re going to need,” says Einhart, who suggests creating a meal plan and double-checking to make sure you’ve got all the tools and ingredients you need.
Whether you’re camp cooking for your own little family or a troupe of off-roaders, smart prep will help you save space and let you spend more time around the fire rather than doing dishes.
Offroad.com contributor Tom Severin tells four-wheeling groups to mix and cook batter in the same pan to save dishes, and bringing a baggie of rice, for example, instead of the whole box.
“Re-package items at home to eliminate bulk and trash. Measure out and take only the amount of ingredients you need for the recipes,” says Severin, who swears by a three-baggie method of packing all the ingredients you need for a campfire peach cobbler.
For a long time, even Craig and Caz Makepeace, the wanderlust parents and ‘serial travelers’ behind Y Travel Blog, didn’t have high standards when they were cooking in the bush. Then they were joined by a friend who stir fried a cous cous dish over an open fire, and that’s when Caz Makepeace “realized just how badly Craig and I suck at campfire cooking.”
“We usually just throw a couple of veggie sausages on the barbie and if we are lucky an odd potato or two wrapped in foil and tucked into the coals,” says Makepeace, in her post Campfire cooking recipes and tips for cooking over an open fire, which includes a mouth-watering recipe for ‘Campfire paella.’
“This is a super-easy one-pan dish (that’s) absolutely incredible on a cold night by the fire. Not only does it work really well cooked on a campfire, the wood smoke will add to the flavour,” says Makepeace.
Campfire cooking expert Scott Carey, author of Outdoor Cooking Magic, says it’s hard to put your finger on just the one thing that makes campfire food so delicious.
“There’s something special about cooking outside that makes everything taste better,” says Carey, who goes out of his way to come up with easy, fun, delicious ways to enjoy the somewhat lost art of outdoor cooking. His motto is: “You can cook almost anything outdoors that you can cook inside.”
That includes fresh, warm rolls. He recently offered up his campfire breadsticks recipe that uses sticks (yes, from a tree branch) instead of a pan to hold and brown the dough.
If you’re really feeling adventurous and you know a thing or two about foraging, The Clymb contributor Hans Schneider suggests wrapping meat, cheese or fresh fish in wild leaves for an earthy flavour.
“Simply overlap the leaves around the fish and tie some wet twine around the whole shebang to hold it together…and put it right above the coals, or right next the fire. The leaves will help the meat steam, and protect its skin from burning,” says Schneider, who loves trout in walnut leaves. Any edible leaf, from palm to walnut and oak to maple, can be used.
With portable campfires, cooking over an open fire has never been easier. The Campfire in a Can has everything you need to create a warmer, longer-lasting wood-burning portable campfire, including grill and grate accessories for simple camp cooking.
At The Art of Manliness, contributors Brett & Kate McKay share tips for mastering the art of ‘hobo’ cooking with tin foil.
“…Foil packet meals can be one of your greatest allies,” says the McKays. Once you get out your foil-wrapped ready-to-cook meal, “All you need is a fork and some fire.”
What are some of your tips and tricks for making camp cooking fun, easy and delicious? Please share!
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