How to eat well while camping out
A little prep and creativity are key to rustling up a delicious meal over a campfire. Plus, seven tools to pack if you’re the camp cook.
With a bit of prep beforehand, the proper packing list, and a cast-iron skillet, almost any meal is possible over your campfire. Follow these simple tips to make your next trip a gourmet affair.
Cook a juicy brick chicken
Cooking a whole butterflied chicken under a brick or large stone will help it brown evenly, and retain its moisture, says Sarah Huck, author of Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors. Butterfly a chicken at home (or better yet, have a butcher do it for you) and rub it in salt and pepper (or any spice to your liking). You’ll be cooking the chicken in a large cast-iron skillet so you’ll need to support it with a sturdy metal grate positioned over the fire. Build a medium-hot fire and place the skillet atop the grate along with some olive oil or ghee. Let the oil heat up for a minute and then lay the chicken in the pan and cover it with a brick or stone that is wrapped in foil. Cook, undisturbed for about 12 minutes, flip the chicken and let cook for another 15 minutes. The meat is ready when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees. Serve with yogurt sauce or chutney.
Pack fresh fruit skewers
Huck says preparing certain foods ahead of time allows for fun snacks while camping. Case in point: Fruit skewers, which are a refreshing, juicy alternative to meat, cheese, and veggie assortments. Pierce chunks of pre-cubed watermelon, feta, and mint leaves with a skewer, an option that is less messy than eating with your hands. Pre-cut peaches are a good choice for skewers and can be grilled for a quick dessert.
Get creative with s’mores
S’mores are often thought to consist of only graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow, but Linda Ly, author of The New Camp Cookbook: Gourmet Grub for Campers, Road Trippers, and Adventurers encourages creative variations. In place of the cracker, she suggests chocolate chip cookies, stroopwafels, or frozen waffles (toast the waffle before assembling). In addition to the marshmallow, add Nutella, a nut butter, or sliced fruit. Ly never skips the chocolate — she likes dark chocolate, either cayenne-infused or filled with liqueur to make it stand out among the other flavors.
Wrap up some roll-ups
Lunch comes easy when rolled. Ly suggests starting with a tortilla or thin piece of naan, then spread on a condiment (try pesto or chimichurri sauce instead of mayo), followed by deli meat, a leafy green, and cucumber or tomato slices. Roll it up and cut into 2-inch rounds. They’re a great finger food, Ly says, that packs well and appeals to kids.
7 kitchen essentials for your next trip
Huck says these items will change the way you cook over a campfire:
■ Rollable cutting boards, which are lightweight and portable.
■ Jars with screw-on lids are more leak proof than Ziploc bags and can double as drinking cups.
■ Cast-iron skillets and Dutch ovens (stews are often overlooked as a camping meal, Huck says, but are actually low-maintenance and hearty options).
■ An instant-read thermometer is helpful when cooking over the variable temperatures of campfires.
■ Collapsible mixing bowls, which take up less space.
■ A ladle, for serving.
■ And a corkscrew, for you know what.
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