Food & Drink: Campicurean
So it may soon be too cold to pound a tent stake through the topsoil, but I’m always thinking about camping season.
The best thing about it for me; the food. I’m not talking hot dogs on a stick or popcorn, no. Our camping trips are a gourmet showdown of the highest order.
Making really, really good food at a campsite (and I’m talking over a FIRE) isn’t hard. If you can barbecue some dogs or smokies, you can cook a roast, a whole chicken, or chili. If you’re careful, you can even bake.
When my pals and I head for the hills, we divide up the weekend’s meals; every couple signs up to prepare 2 meals . We’ve had everything from campfire chili, to scrambled eggs and bacon, German Apple pancake, to a double-stuffed roast beef with all the fixins. Not to mention grilled pineapple on waffles.
It starts with the prep; throw some decent pots and pans into your kit. We always have a car, and make sure a large cast iron frypan is in the mix. it works wonders for keeping food from burning over the hot fire. It’s super-easy to fill it full of ground beef, kidney beans and tomatoes and spices, and whip up a delicious, spicy smokey campfire chili with whatever recipe you normally use.
That same pan can do wonders for pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs. or even a favourite of mine; German Apple Pancake. (Recipe below)
Gourmet dinners can be simple too; beer-can chicken is easy, fast, and guarantees a moist and crispy bird pretty much every time. Just rub the bird with oil and your favourite spice combo, and bake. I also love stuffing whole garlic cloves or lemon wedges under the skin for added flavour and moistness. (ProTip: bring some heavy duty rubber gloves or sturdy tongs to make moving the chicken around easier). You can also grab one of those new beercan holsters that keeps the bird and the beer from tipping into the inferno. Handy.
Stews are also the Campicurean’s friend; jambalaya, cajun stew, beef or bison stew, and even paella all lend themselves to the campfire, or even the campstove.
The key to not setting your meal ablaze is to build a big fire first, then allow it to burn down to hot coals; and that means getting the fire going in advance. Keep it going with small pieces of wood that don’t re-ignite a bonfire. That helps give you an even heat, with a bit of smoke for flavour.
The other way to go campicurean is in your appetizers. A small block of cedar, a wheel of brie cheese, some garlic paste, or chopped garlic and a splash of rum make a pretty mean warned cheese & crackers appy. Just oil the plank, place the cheese on it, paste it over with the garlic, mixed with a wee bit of butter or oil, then leave it to warm through on an edge of the fire. Warm up a shot of rum in a tine or a cup. When it’s done, pur the rum over the cheese plank, and light it up, flambee-style. When the flame goes out, voila!
Another favourite campitizer is rumaki, or bacon wrapped chicken livers. (Shopping list: bacon, chicken livers, sliced water chesnuts, maple syrup) Buy the livers frozen, so they keep in the cooler. Chop them small, wrap them in bacon with a slice or two of water chesnut. Cook them on the edge of the campfire grill to about halfway, drizzle with maple syrup, then finish the cooking process. Dee-lish. (And for my squeamish friends, if I didn’t tell you there were livers inside you’d NEVER know it!)
The bottom line is, cooking gourmet meals at your campsite is easy, with just a little planning and creative thought!
Do you have a favourite camping recipe or cooking method? Please share it on the comments. I LOVE finding new gourmet ideas.
German Apple Pancake
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and
|1.||Try to bring a cast iron pan with a lid. If not, pack some heavy duty foil. In a large bowl, blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Gradually mix in milk, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Let batter stand for 30 minutes or overnight.|
|2.||Make sure the fire is ready, ie hot but not a raging inferno.|
|3.||Melt butter in a 10 inch oven proof skillet, brushing butter up on the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture over the butter. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples. Place pan over fire until the mixture bubbles, then gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.|
|4.||Cover with tinfoil or a lid and let it “bake” for about 8-15 minutes. Check it.. you’ll notice it should be puffing up. Depending on your fire, it may need another 10 minutes. Slide pancake onto serving platter and cut into wedges.|