Meals to make on the campfire or with a camping stove
July 21, 20235 min read
The craft of preparing food al fresco is nothing new. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, our ancestors cooked on open fires but these days, the supermarket meal deal is often the snack of choice for a day out in the hills. With a little more planning and a few additions to the backpack, we can rustle up something far more appetising.
Cook Out is Harrison Ward's guide to over eighty restaurant-style recipes that can be prepared on minimal camping equipment in the open air. Below we've selected a sample of them to fire up your tastebuds.
SUNRISE BREAKFAST: American-style Pancakes with Blueberries
Makes 8 Allergens milk, egg, gluten
My first memory of these chunkier, fluffier cousins of the European crêpe was at my childhood friend Jonny’s house after a weekend sleepover. He prepared the pancakes and stacked them up tall while dancing around his kitchen to Michael Jackson. Although previously having been a lemon and sugar traditionalist, seeing syrup cascade down the tower of cooked batter swayed my intentions. These days they are a breakfast treat and ideal for that first meal of the day after you’ve unzipped the tent door. Remember that the first pancake always fails, even outdoors.
Method Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl (no need to sieve – this is the outdoors!). In a separate bowl add a cup’s worth of milk (about 100ml) and crack 2 eggs into it. Lightly mix and slowly add to the dry mixture while whisking. Once combined, continue to whisk until no lumps are left; the mixture should be a runny custard-like consistency. Add more flour to thicken or milk to thin, if needs be.
Heat the frying pan on the stove and add a few cubes of butter, allowing it to melt without letting it burn. Pour a small amount of the mixture into the pan so it forms a circle in the centre of it. Don’t touch it! Wait until bubbles appear on the surface and then, using the spatula, flip it. Cook it for a further 30 seconds and remove from the pan. Repeat the process until all the mixture has been used. You should be able to make 8 decent-sized pancakes.
Serve with blueberries and honey (or toppings of your choosing).
Tip: Prepare the mix at home and decant it into a flask – pancakes ready to go the next morning without the mess.
SUMMIT SPECIAL: Aubergine Katsu
Serves 2 Allergens egg, nuts, gluten
I’m often asked, ‘What is the hardest dish you’ve ever cooked outdoors?’ In terms of variety of ingredients and equipment required, a katsu is usually my answer. The equipment alone is daunting enough – and that’s on top of my usual adventure kit list. Preparing the sauce at home will make this dish much more manageable, but where’s the fun in that?
Rice 200g sushi rice 300ml water or vegetable stock 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Katsu 1 white onion 1 garlic clove thumb of ginger oil 2 carrots 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 teaspoon turmeric 200ml coconut milk salt white pepper 1 tablespoon honey 1 lime 1⁄2 cucumber 15g fresh coriander red chilli
Method Place the cornflour, 2 beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Slice the aubergine into 1cm discs. One by one, take an aubergine disc and dredge in cornflour, shake off the excess, dip in egg, ensuring full coverage, and then dip in breadcrumbs so it is coated. Repeat the process until all are breaded and then set aside.
Add the sushi rice to 300ml water or stock with the rice wine vinegar. Bring to the boil in the small saucepan and then lower to a simmer and cook until all water/stock is absorbed then leave to one side covered over.
Finely dice the onion, garlic and ginger. Add to a lightly oiled large saucepan over a medium heat. Peel both carrots and grate one into the pan. Once softened, add curry powder and turmeric. Stir through and then add coconut milk. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and then add the honey and fresh lime juice.
Add oil to the frying pan to a depth of just over 1cm and heat it to around 180 ̊C – check it with a food probe or by seeing if a small piece of carrot sizzles and gets crisp when it hits the oil. Add the aubergine discs to the oil in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden and remove from the oil.
Slice the cucumber and other carrot into long thin strips and roll into cylinders. Heat the sauce through again if necessary and then serve alongside rice, top with breaded aubergine and garnish with fresh coriander, red chilli and ribboned carrot and cucumber.
WARNING! Hot oil takes time to cool down and can cause serious injury. Be sure to transfer the oil to a metal container once it has fully cooled and dispose of it properly.
Tip: if making the sauce at home, blitz it in a food processor to make it nice and smooth.
CAMPING DESSERT: Oaty S'mores
Makes 5 Allergens milk, gluten, nuts*
Another hybrid recipe, with the biscuits prepared in advance in the oven at home – though you could cheat and pop to the shops for the well-known conglomerate versions (I’m sure you know the ones). Once you’ve tried making these biscuits, I’m sure you won’t be reaching for that convenient packet in the supermarket, though. I also thought about providing a marshmallow recipe, but let’s face it, 99 per cent of us are grabbing a bag from the shop.
Biscuits (makes 10) 65g unsalted butter 40g dark muscovado sugar 50g oats 50g wholewheat flour 1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon golden syrup 1 tablespoon treacle salt
Method At home, preheat the oven to 180 ̊C. Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together until the mix is smooth and incorporated. Add the oats, flour, bicarb, baking powder, syrup, treacle and salt. Combine until consistently merged and until it all comes together into a dough. Roll into a large ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and separate into 10 pieces. Roll these into golf- ball-sized portions and pop on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Squash and flatten the balls into the tray by firmly pressing down on them, making sure they are an even depth all over. Repeat the process until all the balls have been squashed into biscuits, taking care to leave some room in between as they may spread during cooking.
Bake for at least 10 minutes in the oven until they have gone golden brown. Leave to cool and harden. Carefully pack the biscuits ready for the outdoor stage.
On the hill, liberally apply chocolate hazelnut spread to one side of your oaty biscuits – you need two biscuits to make a s’more and the spread will be on the insides of the biscuits. Skewer two marshmallows on a stick at time. Toast over the open flame of your stove but not directly in the flame as it will burn and potentially drip on to your equipment. Rotate the skewers until the marshmallows are suitably toasted/charred and have begun to melt. Sandwich the marshmallows between two biscuits, chocolate spread on the insides, and squeeze together as you remove the skewer. Squeeze further to completely fill the biscuit with molten marshmallow and to melt the chocolate spread with the residual heat.