Picking out recipes. Cooking meals. Food can make or break your camping trip. It took me at least a year before I figured something out about myself – I do not want to spend a lot of time cooking while I’m camping.
Campfire Cooking Tips
Let me back up. There is something magical about cooking outside with a fire. Both my husband, daughter and I feel strongly about that. But lots of chopping, prep, and clean-up is not my idea of a good time. At all. And I need something easy (like hotdogs) the day that we arrive because we almost never get to a campsite until it’s past dinnertime.
In time, I’ve learned to prep as much as I can before we go camping and to keep recipes simple. I’ve also learned to have a backup because sometimes ideas that seem good at home do not sound fun when it’s 5:30 p.m. and I just want to sit by the lake with a drink and a book. Easy meals include fajitas, hot dogs, sausage, or pre-made soups.
One way that I balance my love for cooking outside with my dislike of prep work is to prepare as much as I can before we leave the house to camp. Our outdoor camp kitchen is well-stocked and ready to go so I also don’t have to think about what to bring.
In time, you get used to cooking on a campfire or other outdoor method. Then it becomes fun to explore different cooking methods such as:
In this post, I include some of our favorite recipes using each of these methods.
Cooking Over the Campfire
Foil Packet Recipes
Foil packets are fun because each person can assemble their own and the foil provides the perfect baking and steaming pockets for your protein and vegetables and you can even eat directly out of the packets so clean up is a breeze.
All you need is a protein, 2 vegetables cut between 1/4" to 1/2" thick, some butter and/or oil, and seasonings. You are limitless in the combos that you can do. Our favorite recipe is for Bacon Ranch Chicken and potatoes (link below).
If we are lucky enough to catch a fish, I've also done it in oil and butter and added lemon and garlic or Old Bay seasoning.
Our favorite foil packet meal is chicken ranch foil packets
This site has a variety of delicious foil packet recipes
Quick Cooking On a stick
You could use a stick, but you need marshmallow sticks for s'mores so you may as well get a decent set for all of your roasting needs. You just stick your hot dog or sausage or whatever on the stick and cook it until it's to your liking. I love this method because it feels very primitive. Plus, kids love it. And you can sit in your chair and watch the action. This method also has little to no clean-up.
You can also do any sort of kabob. Our favorite is this Rosemary Ranch Chicken kabob
Slow Cooking Over a Dutch Oven
Now if you want a truly memorable meal, this is the way to go although there is some definite science to it. Cast iron dutch ovens have been beloved by all campers for hundreds of years because they get better with each use and cook food so perfectly.
I initially found the Dutch oven a bit intimidating, but I now love it. As mentioned, you need to know how many coals go on top and on the bottom of your oven so that you get the right temperature. Here's a charcoal guide for your Dutch Oven that will tell you what you need to know.
The Dutch Oven Dude has a lot of great info on his site and lots of Dutch oven campfire recipes
Yummy Meals On a Griddle
In my last post all about camp cookware, I referenced our love for our Blackstone. It's true. It's amazing. We have a grill/griddle combo in our camper but we love the griddle so much that it's at the top of Bill's list for Christmas to get a 22" griddle for our house. He cooks the kids some combo of eggs, bacon, or sausage most days for breakfast and he's decided that he wants to take that cooking outdoors.
You can do so much more than just breakfast. We do our onions and peppers on there, Brussel sprouts, steaks, really anything. I love Taste of Home and here are some delicious recipes for the griddle.
Frying Fish and Other Things in Oil
So our Blackstone also allows you to remove the grill and use the burner for a large pot (e.g., crawfish or shrimp boil or fish fry). If we catch fish, we love nothing more than to get out some peanut oil, put on some Louisiana batter, and fry up fish with fried okra (available in the freezer section of Wal-Mart) or french fries.
If you've ever fried, you know the strangely alluring thing about it. Once I start frying, I can't stop. Do we have a pickle around? Any peppers? I once deep-fried a deviled egg. It was amazing.
We don't really use a recipe. We rinse the fish in cold water, pat dry and then use Louisiana fish fry mix.
The key is to get the oil to 350 degrees and keep it there while you are cooking. Adding fish will cool the oil so wait a few minutes between batches and test your temperature. For realz. Our favorite tool for measuring temperature is this instant read thermometer. We keep one in the house, one by the grill at home and one in our camper. If it breaks, we buy another one.
Serve with lemon or lime, Tobasco or your other favorite hot sauce and tartar sauce if you like it.
In my next post, I share how I make my camping menu/meal plan, grocery list and packing list in under 10 minutes.