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Help me level up my camp cooking
August 13, 2014 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Looking for ideas of really great food to bring on a car camping trip. Bonus points if it involves cooking over the campfire. I am attending an annual family long weekend camping trip with my fiance in a few weeks, and am drawing a blank on what to bring foodwise. I'm looking for ideas of main courses suitable for dinner as well as side dishes or dessert, that will blow people's socks off.

We always eat very well on these trips: it's car camping, and everyone who is coming is either an excellent cook or an able helper. Some examples of things we have eaten during past trips: whole chickens roasted over the fire, pork tenderloin with pesto and prosciutto, local cheese with truffle honey, corn on the cob, teriyaki meatballs, fajitas with black bean salad, brownies with creme anglaise and bourbon-soaked cherries, couscous with dried fruit, etc. So, pretty fancy as camping food goes, and most importantly, delicious. To make it different than normal cooking at home, I especially want to use the campfire to cook as much as possible.

We will have ample cooler space and one small electric fridge (inside a trailer), 2 decent propane stoves (although like most camping stoves I've used, keeping it at a simmer can be tricky), and a couple of adjustable campfire grills. There will be 8 or 9 adults total, and no kids. Dietary restrictions are non-existent. Palates are pretty adventurous, although I'll need to keep spice levels at the level of a mild thai curry. I'm willing to do as much prep as necessary at home, but would like to keep the on-site preparation to a moderate amount since this is a vacation after all.
posted by quaking fajita to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
One thing that's kind of fun is floating dough on top of a stew or soup in the dutch oven, putting on the lid, covering the lid with embers, and cooking them nice and brown on top. You can do the same thing with cornbread.

This may not be sufficiently 'fancy,' but it's kind of a neat trick.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:29 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Also check out dirty gourmet for fancy camping food.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:33 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


I car-camped with a similar-minded group last month and we were all wowed with roasted fruits, primarily strawberries and raspberries. We paired the roasted fruits with cheeses and chocolates, and had a lot of fun mixing and matching. It was so simple, but man, it was so good. One of the most memorable camp-foods I've ever had.
posted by Tevin at 2:34 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


We recently had some very successful campfire kabobs. I would have added some stone fruit if we weren't dealing with a picky eater. Pretty, healthy, colorful, and tastes like campfire!

Puppy assistance is an added bonus, but not required.
posted by chatongriffes at 2:36 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


This blog has some recipes.

I've had this that he made. Awesome.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:40 PM on August 13


Asparagus wrapped in a slice of prosciutto grilled on the campfire - instant camping class and damn near the easiest appetizer to make. Spicy mustard for dipping is a bonus.
posted by floweredfish at 2:49 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Oh man oh man oh man. Can you smoke a pork shoulder/butt? I've wanted to do it forever but have never had the chance. You could use a raised pit like this one, or a dugout pit like this, and I bet you'd end up with the best pork ever. Towards the end, you could throw some whole sweet potatoes (to be topped with garlic-thyme butter) and whole apples onto the fire, and have delicious, delicious supper.
posted by MeghanC at 3:08 PM on August 13


Can't go wrong with State Fair Chicken, aka Cornell Chicken. This has been a staple at my family reunions for the past, oh, 40 years. It is particularly good cooked over hardwood coals.
posted by gyusan at 3:20 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Check out recipes for campfire paella. You can make it as simple (chicken only) or complicated (shrimp, mussels, chorizo) as you'd like. Hoping to make this in October for my next car camping adventure.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 3:24 PM on August 13


Banana Split Smores:

Without peeling the banana, cut a slit in it to make a banana split. Leave the ends intact, but open up the banana a bit to make some space inside the split. Cut marshmallows in half. Stuff the banana with the marshmallow halves. Add some chocolate too. Wrap completely in foil and throw into the ambers or into the heat of the smoke for 10? 15? minutes. The marshmallow and chocolate should be melted and gooey when you take it out, and the banana should be soft and cooked as well. Be careful opening the foil. Crumble some graham crackers on top of the melted chocolate/marshmallow mixture and eat with a fork. Be careful and wait a bit to make sure it doesn't burn your tongue.

So good!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 3:25 PM on August 13


Oh man oh man oh man. Can you smoke a pork shoulder/butt? I've wanted to do it forever but have never had the chance. You could use a raised pit like this one, or a dugout pit like this, and I bet you'd end up with the best pork ever. Towards the end, you could throw some whole sweet potatoes (to be topped with garlic-thyme butter) and whole apples onto the fire, and have delicious, delicious supper.

This does end up really good, but it takes at least 8 hours and usually more to get a really good result. This can be tough when camping to get the temperature right for that long and find enough fuel to keep the fire going.

A better result over a fire is to crave up the meat into strips and skewer them, Satay style.

Another good way to eat is to premake meat pies/pasties and then toast them over the fire. You can go meat or vegetarian (and BTW pulled pork isn't a bad filling to put in one). In olden times the miners would use their shovels as the frying pan over a fire. For sanitary reasons I don't recommend this.
posted by bartonlong at 3:54 PM on August 13


I would source an assortment of amazing sausages. I'm lucky, I have Patak locally, but they may do mail order, give 'em a call, I mean LOOK AT THIS LIST!

So fancy sausages, weird mustards, fancy ketchups (Heinz makes them with jalapenos and balsamic vinegar) and relishes and chutneys.

Find the most amazing buns you can. A local bakery can make an assortment for you if you special order them.

Accompany with unusual potato chips, or a big homemade potato salad.

There is something about a weenie roast that just says CAMPING to me. That and S'mores. You can get cute with them too. Use homemade shortbread instead of graham crackers. Use luxurious chocolate.

Cooking fancy stuff is fun, but not over a campfire. Often I just get the best ingredients I can find and cook them. I get all the credit for what the farmer did.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:58 PM on August 13


Baking in a reflector oven is a cute trick. It takes a particular type of fire. On the downside, it doesn't lend itself to recipes for eight.

Cooking fish tied or nailed to a board was a favorite recipe of my mother when Girl Scouting. One recipe here:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/wild-chef/2013/02/fish-recipe-trout-nail
posted by SemiSalt at 4:42 PM on August 13


Thanks for all the fantastic suggestions! I have lots of ideas now. Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus is definitely happening. Unfortunately it is a provincial park so I won't be able to dig any pits.
posted by quaking fajita at 5:59 PM on August 13


I'll second roasted fruit. I had pineapple cooked by campfire in an iron skillet recently, and it was amazing.
posted by cabbagesnkings at 8:55 AM on August 14


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