Chef Inspired Camp Meals
I love camping. I always have. Being from Oregon, camping and the great outdoors have always been a part of who I am. As my kids have grown older it has been really fun to watch them fall in love with it too. Cinnamon rolls like the ones pictured above help!!
As the son of a chef it may not come as a big surprise that when my family went camping, we didn't eat hotdogs and canned chili. Not that there's anything wrong with a chili-dog night in your menu plan! But camping presents a unique opportunity, in a world filled with the latest culinary gadgets, to cook using more primitive techniques. I believe deeply in this style of cooking. There is a different attention that you have to pay to the food when you don't have all of your kitchen conveniences and the terrior of the great outdoors makes it taste oh so good. When you add those feelings to the real need for good quality calories to fuel activities, you have all the motivation you need to plan for eating like royalty on the road.
So, this blog is dedicated to a few camp meals from the past few months that I managed to capture pictures of before we devoured them.
DUTCH OVEN CINNAMON ROLLS
One thing I always plan for when we are going camping is a menu item that forces me to use my Lodge Dutch Oven. When I was younger we would raft the Rogue River wild and scenic section. My dad's buddy Steve had a Dutch oven and he was a master with the thing. It was there that I was exposed to the endless possibilities that Dutch oven cooking can bring to the camp meal plan. Cakes, Biscuits, Cornbread, Pizza, Focaccia, Cinnamon Rolls, COOKIES!!! Almost anything you would bake at home can be adapted to the Dutch.
Below is a chart showing coal configuration for various oven temperatures. I printed this chart off and I keep a laminated copy in my camp cook kit. I also carry a Charcoal Starter as part of this kit. The better quality your coals, the more accurate your oven temp. I don't use any particular kind of coal. Usually whatever match light I can find because I like the advantage of getting the match light lit and you aren't using the briquettes for flavor, only for heat.
As you can see the results are pretty magnificent. My son was stoked! He had been asking for these for three days. Waking up in the mountains and eating fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast just tastes better.
One of the staples of my dad's meal planning on our big group river trips always involved Pozole or Chili of some sort. We would have that for dinner and then the following morning we would re-heat it (in the Dutch oven) and poach eggs right in the broth. Meanwhile you heat up some tortillas and dice some fresh tomatoes and jalapeños (from the garden) and this was an easy, delicious breakfast after a fun morning surf.
BBQ Turkey Chili con Huevos.
OLIVE AND ROSEMARY FOCACCIA
I keep raw ingredients for baking in the camp kit and a couple weeks back we lucked into a single night up at Refugio Camp Ground and I decided to make Focaccia in the Dutch. I had never personally baked bread in a Dutch oven so I was excited to see how it was going to work. Particularly with this recipe, because it has so much olive oil in it that I knew the crust was going to get really good with the contact on the cast iron.
This was my dough just before it went into the Dutch. Sun risen.
In hind site, after this punch down and olive topping I should have allowed it to re-proof one last time. It did get some more rise in the oven but it was a little more dense than normal.
I also had some heat issues on this bake. The wind was blowing pretty strong and in addition this was before I purchased my Charcoal Starter so my coals weren't really 100% like they should have been. Especially the bottom coals.
You can't tell from this picture but like I said, it was just a little dense and the crust didn't really get that airy, bubbly, crispness that I was hoping for. In the end it was a great addition to these Baby Back Ribs. How often do you get to pull fresh bread out of the oven when you are camping?
PRO TIP: When you go camping, place an order for ribs and treat yourself to an epic, easy night of eating.
While the bread baked I put together this root vegetable slaw seasoned with heavy lemon juice to soften the vegetables. By the time the ribs were hot and the bread was baked the raw root vegetables and cabbage in this slaw were just softened, but still crunchy and raw.
When in Oregon, eat Dungeness Crab. Few things are more perfect than those two things together. I wanted to bring some back for you all. I really did. All I have is this story though.
My Uncle Ryan owns The Fisherman's Market in Eugene where he has one of the biggest retail live tanks in Lane County. He drives over to Newport and purchases live crab from the Chelsea Rose. So that's what we did.
If you ever find yourself in Newport Oregon you have to go check out the Bay Front District. Not only are there some cool restaurants, breweries and candy shops down on that stretch but it is a fully working harbor and one of the biggest harbors in Oregon, especially for seafood.
We only had cooler space for two, which we cooked that night. The kids weren't that excited about how it made the camper smell but we didn't care.
Dino didn't mind the aroma of fresh Dungeness Crab!
FIRE ROASTED CORN
This particular corn was being aggressively roasted for Corn off the Cob, which will have its own blog post with a couple different methods. But when you are camping, fire is the method. I love the color of the coals in this picture. The corn was delicious too with a grilled Prime Flat Iron Steak and a quesadilla.
BACON AND BREAKFAST SAUSAGE
Both of these items will be available for you to purchase in the store very soon. Pictured here is that last bit of my previous round of production. The breakfast sausages feature fresh ginger and sage and the bacon, well... if you know you know. These little breakfast snacks when paired with some breads or bagels and some fruit are an easy and popular menu item on my camp planning sheets.
What do your planning sheets look like when you go camping? How do you plan menus and what kind of cooking techniques do you use on the road? Have you been planning to see more of the United States, since we are all stuck here right now?
Now is the time to get out and explore. Covid 19 has shut down travel to most international locations, unless of course you have time to quarantine on the way there and back... I don't... But in addition, airline travel seems risky. Lucky for me, I love road trips and I love to camp. Life on the road affords plenty of extra time for slow food and I love that too.