Opinion > Star Staff
Let's Make a Meal: Outdoor cooking a big part of camping trip
Cooking outdoors is a major part of the camping experience. As the old adage states, "food just tastes better when cooked outdoors."
By Luke Clayton, Special to Star Local News
Cooking outdoors using a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven adds much to the ambiance of a camping trip.
There is something very special about removing the lid from a Dutch kettle and smelling a freshly baked peach cobbler cooked beside a campfire. I love to transform the fruits of my hunting and fishing trips into tasty meals, at camp and back at home.
Scheduling time to cook into a busy hunting or fishing trip can be tough. After all, hunting or fishing is the primary reason for the outing, right? Yes, but you and your buddies/family still have to eat. Why settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when a tasty meal everyone will remember can be easily prepared and, with a little forethought, allow you plenty of time to enjoy the primary reason you are outdoors: hunting and fishing.
Some of my favorite camp meals require a couple hours to prepare.
I learned a long time ago not to wait until after the evening hunt to begin these more time-consuming meals. There's always the option of preparing the meals at home, packing them in the ice cooler and heating them up at camp, but that's just not camp cooking. I enjoy cooking at camp, over hardwoods coals, a camp stove or, if there is electricity handy, slow-smoking meats overnight on my Smokin' Tex electric smoker.
Here are some tried and tested recipes that are easy to prepare and well received at camp.
Through the years, I've made fajitas at camp for everything from elk steak to wild turkey breast.
Fajita meat is best if allowed to season a few hours or overnight.
I usually cut the fajita meat into strips at home and season liberally with Fiesta Fajita seasoning. Place the strips into a zip lock bag and place in the refrigerator. I usually slice a bell pepper, onion, a jalapeno or two and four or five garlic cloves at home and place in a separate bag. At camp, heat a cast iron skillet or wok, cut up five strips of bacon and fry until crisp, add the meat and cook until done, usually about 10 minutes. Add the veggies during the last couple minutes of cooking. Squeeze the juice from a couple lemons just before serving on warm tortillas.
Camp cabbage rolls
This easy-to-prepare dish takes about an hour from start to finish.
Begin with making small meatballs by mixing spicy pork sausage with raw Jasmine rice. Next, in a large pot or Dutch Kettle, pour in a big can of V8 spicy juice. Slice a large head of cabbage into small pieces and layer the cabbage with the meatballs. Add a little more Jasmine rice, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook about 45 minutes until the meatballs are done. Bring along an omelet cooker and make some cornbread over low heat on your cook stove or use a Dutch Kettle with coals to make the cornbread.
This dish is best served on a cool fall or winter outing.
Wild pork tenderloin
I harvest several wild hogs during the course of a year and usually have plenty of pork in the freezer; domestic pork may be substituted.
Begin by trimming the tenderloins well, then make a vertical slice down the center of each loin, about halfway through. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Place a couple slices of quality, thickly sliced smoked bacon in the slit of each tenderloin. Grill or smoke until well done, then pour a liberal amount of raspberry jelly or preserves over the loins. This sauce gives the meat an excellent sweet/spicy flavor and should be poured onto the loins during the last minute or so of cooking.
If you prefer, instead of cooking the loins whole, slice them into three-quarter inch loin chops and baste with roasted raspberry sauce. I've served this dish many times and it's always well received at camp and home.
Smoked pork or venison ham or shoulder
I use my Smokin' Tex electric smoker often and pack it along on camping trips where electricity is available.
I've found that whole hams from wild hogs or venison make a wonderful camp meal but require overnight cooking.
Begin by rubbing the large cuts of meat liberally with Head Country Championship seasoning. I then inject Head Country Barbecue sauce into the hams, place them on a couple layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and place in the Smokin' Tex with about 4 ounces of pecan or hickory wood. Allow the heavy smoke to permeate the meat for a couple hours, then add more barbecue sauce and cover with bay leaves, wrap tightly in the aluminum foil, set the thermometer at 200 degrees and allow to slow cook overnight. No need to check the hams until morning and cooking time can be anywhere from 12-18 hours.
The even temperature will make the barbecue fall-off-the-bone tender.
Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton at: catfishradio.com. Contact Luke with fishing and hunting information from your area at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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