Whether you’re roughing it in a tent, or have the luxury of an RV or cottage, camping is a great way to escape the bustle of city life and chill with friends and family. Hanging out on the boat and fishing from the dock were two of my favourite things to do while camping as a kid. Now, I’m all about sitting by a crackling fire and cooking up a hearty meal for the masses.
When we think of campfire cookouts, we’re often drawn to images of hotdogs on a stick and s’mores. And while those are great and easy meals, there are so many more options out there to explore.
Cost effective and built to last a lifetime, cast iron pans offer versatility to your campfire cooking. For breakfast, toss onions, par-cooked potatoes – par-cooking is a technique to partially cook food to be finished later – and peppers into the hot pan and cook until softened, then crack a few eggs on top.
Campfire sandwiches, such as Philly cheesesteaks, hit the spot for lunch or dinner. Sauté onions and peppers in the pan first. Then, using small dinner rolls, layer shaved roast beef, cheese and the sautéed peppers and onions on the buns. Place the full buns in the pan and heat until all the cheese has melted and is warm throughout.
For dessert, make a campfire cobbler using canned pie filling, such as cherry or apple, a boxed cake mix and water.
You can cook virtually everything in a foil packet. Campfire french toast will please the kids and couldn’t be easier to make for breakfast. Wrap a loaf of sliced bread with parchment, then foil. Pour in whisked eggs, and it’s done in about 40 minutes. Serve with berries and syrup.
For lunch or dinner, try a sliced chicken breast, a mix of peppers and onions and some taco seasoning for killer fajitas. Don’t forget your veggies. Load a foil packet full of corn, peppers, onions, potatoes and your favourite sausage. Your dinner is done once the veggies have softened but remain crisp.
Serve your veggies with bannock cooked on a stick. Make fondue in a foil packet for dipping the bannock or sprinkle the dough with everything bagel seasoning – a spice blend including sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, garlic powder and salt.
Pie irons are perfect for handheld or small-batch meals. Breakfast is a breeze when you load the iron with shredded hash browns, cheese and an egg.
Craving pizza for lunch or dinner? Use store-bought crescent dough and make calzones packed full with your favourite toppings.
For dessert, impress your camping crew with cherry cheesecake hand pies. Use store-bought crescent dough, or two pieces of sliced bread, and fill the pie iron with cherry pie filling and a few dollops of cream cheese.
Campfire cooking is more than hotdogs on a stick and burnt marshmallows. You can still prepare impressive meals over an open fire with the right tools and a little creativity.
Nicole Harling is a cookbook addict, cooking school instructor, travel junkie and lover of all things sweet. Discover her food journey on Culinary Cool.