Throughout the year, men and women, boys and girls anticipate the opportunity to sit in foldable chairs surrounded by a brilliant starry sky, a blazing campfire, and good conversation. But as the center attraction to most gatherings, the food is what encourages individuals to accept an invitation to flavorful “good eats.” Campfire food is much more than the tin-can-meal movie-goers often witness in Western films. In fact, it’s the opposite. In bringing a multitude of supplies, from aluminum foil and several Dutch ovens to a percolator, the well-prepared campers can easily make a meal and dessert worthy of the highest accolade, Michelin stars. Whether you decide to start now or wait until summer, consider adding a bit of pizzazz to a Tuesday or Friday night. A campfire meal may become a weekly anticipated family event!
Easy to transport and clean up with the snap of a finger, aluminum foil appears as a secret weapon in cooking. For the main meal, create a bowl or square with tall sides, approximately 18 inches by 12, with “heavy duty” aluminum foil. In the center, you will have a bowl to cook and eat in, once it has been removed from the fire (and cooled.) Consider making individual pockets for each member of your group.
- First, coat the foil with cooking spray; then, place the ingredients that require more time to cook, such as meat and potatoes, on the bottom. And always include vegetables to prevent the meat from drying out.
- If your “bowl” ingredients are heavy, you may want to use two sheets of aluminum foil.
- Be careful when using olive oil. It may burn you or the meal; therefore, drizzle lightly.
- The bowls must be sealed. If steam escapes, the contents will burn or dry before they have a chance to cook.
- Place your meals on the coals, not necessarily directly in the flames of the fire.
In a Ziploc bag, combine four boneless, skinless chicken breasts; one can of 15-oz. navy beans, drained and rinsed; one can of 10-oz. drained diced tomatoes; one can of corn bits; and one Tbsp. of Mexican spice blend (or more to your taste). Scoop out equal parts of the mixture into each foil square; then fold to ensure it will not leak or escape steam. Place on the grate of your campfire for up to 25 minutes, turning packets carefully to cook the contents evenly. Sprinkle with cheese and green onion before serving.
The possibilities and ideas are endless—from fish and herbs to chicken, potatoes, and carrot strips. Your favorite meals can easily be made in an aluminum foil bowl. For sides, wrap a potato, sweet potato, or corn-on-the-cob in foil and allow the enflamed coals to cook. Place your curiosity aside, the taste will surprise you!
Although greater in weight, the Dutch oven is very simple to clean, especially if the kettle is still warm. Try making a breakfast soufflé, a low-country boil, lasagna, or a finger-licking cobbler. (It may be wise to bring several Dutch ovens to your gathering.)
Tips to Cooking:
- If the ground is cold or wet, place a fireproof barrier between the ground and your coals. (An old cookie sheet works great!)
- The ashes will reduce your heat; therefore, be aware of the moment to start adding more charcoal. (Weather conditions also will affect how long your charcoal lasts. One briquette equals 10 degrees of heat.)
- Keep your Dutch oven off the ground and consider hanging the kettle for convenience.
Peach and Berry Cobbler:
Spray the Dutch oven first with cooking spray before adding two 16-ounce cans of sliced peaches (do not drain), one pint of fresh blueberries, a half-cup of cake mix, and ⅓ cup of sugar. Stir evenly. Afterward, sprinkle ground cinnamon on top of the cobbler. Allow to cook for 30 to 45 minutes. The top should be golden brown and crusty.
Summer, fall, winter, or spring, campfire cooking is a unique way to enjoy the splendor of the outdoors with the people you most enjoy! Cheers!