Camping Guide: Cooking Tips
Summertime is synonymous with venturing into the great outdoors—hiking, climbing, kayaking and camping. But just because you’re communing with Mother Nature, you don’t have to eat stale granola bars and burned Ball Park Franks. James Forbes, co-owner of North Country Charcuterie and an avid camper, shares how to master the smoke and sizzle of cooking over a live fire.
1. Bring the skillet and tongs
It all depends on what you’re cooking, but tongs are always useful. If you’re car-camping, an iron skillet is helpful because you can cook with it on a grate or directly on the coals. A potholder or cotton towels are necessary.
2. Prep at home
As much as possible, plan and prepare your meals ahead of time so you bring only what you need. You don’t want to carry more into your campsite than necessary.
3. Cook on coals
Cooking over a fire isn’t much different than cooking on a stove, except you have to be more cognizant of your heat source. An even layer of coals is the best source. Flames are fun but often leave a lot of creosote on your pots and pans—a real pain to clean off.
4. Season well
Salt and pepper can make or break a dish.
5. Keep it simple
A lot can be done with a few simple ingredients. Don’t overthink things: The real reason you’re cooking over a campfire is to enjoy the space and time with family and friends. If you’ve spent the day hiking, your group will most likely have worked up an appetite. All the more reason to keep your menu simple.
Recipe: Hoguera Chicken
“The beauty of this recipe is all the prep work and assembly of the packets can be done at home,” Forbes says. “After a long day on the trail, you can just come back to the campsite and toss these on the fire and relax with your friends and family. Once everyone has had their fill, just crumple up the foil and toss in the closest trash can.”
- 7-ounce link of North Country Charcuterie’s Hoguera Spreadable Chorizo
- 16 chicken tenders, approximately 2 pounds
- 2 packages frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, pinto beans, broccoli)
- 4 ounces sour cream
- 4-cup bag of shredded cheddar cheese
- 16-ounce jar of salsa verde
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Long-handled tongs
Tear four pieces of aluminum foil 18 inches long. Spray the foil pieces with cooking spray or grease with vegetable oil. Put equal amounts of the vegetables on the four pieces of foil. Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Lay four chicken tenders per package on top of the vegetables. Crumble 2 ounces of Hoguera over each portion of chicken tenders and vegetables.
Bring together opposite sides of the foil and roll together towards the chicken. Crimp both ends of the packet to retain the juices.
Place the foil packets on top of the hot coals and open a beer. Leave the packets on the fire for 10-15 minutes. You will likely hear the packets hissing with steam when they are done.
Remove the packets from the coals and allow them to cool for five to eight minutes, then open and top with the shredded cheese, salsa verde and sour cream.
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There are 10 things you should bring on every camping excursion or hike through a major park. You might not need each item, but you should have them in case something goes awry. —Emma Frankart Henterly
- Navigation: A map and compass are good backups in case you lose a cell signal.
- Sun protection: Wear sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen—even on cloudy days.
- Insulation: Pack a rain jacket, hat, gloves or extra layers as local climate dictates.
- Illumination: A flashlight, lantern or headlamp is invaluable.
- First aid: A basic kit should include bandages (especially ones for blisters), antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter painkillers and insect repellent.
- Fire starters: Pack two fire-starting methods, like waterproof matches and a lighter.
- Repair kit/tools: A basic repair kit could include duct tape and a multitool with a knife, screwdriver and scissors.
- Nutrition: Hiking while hungry is no picnic. Pack an extra day’s supply of food.
- Hydration: Dehydration is a serious risk during outdoor activity. Pack 1 liter of water per person per hour of activity.
- Shelter: A tent or tarp will keep you warm and dry. If you can’t afford the weight, pack a space blanket at least.