Posts tagged #campfire cooking

Planked Fish

Brandt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby - Wilderness Cookbook, 1976 

Brandt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby - Wilderness Cookbook, 1976 

I first saw this recipe on an episode of River Cottage, it looked amazing but I think that Brandt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby have trumped Mr. Fearnley-Wittingsall with this recipe from their 1976 publication - "Wilderness Cookbook."

Planked fish was often used on the trail by scouts and early settlers. The method is simple and needs little attention while cooking.

Split a log a little larger than the spread of the fish. Rub some bacon fat or bear grease on the plank and prop it up vertically in front of the camp fire. Clean the fish and remove the head and tail. Split the fish open and place it skin side down on the preheated log. Tack the fish down along the edges of the skin with wooden pegs.

Season the fish and smear some grease or bacon fat on it. Place the log vertically in front of the fire and let cook. Baste the fish from time to time; it makes the meat much juicier.

The fish should cook in about 20 minutes, depending on size. Check the fish occasionally. When the meat is flakey and tender, remove from the head before it breaks loose from the skin and falls into the fire.

To save the trouble of basting I usually peg three or four strips of bacon on top of the fish before placing the log in front of the fire.
— Brandt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby - Wilderness Cookbook, 1976
Planked Salmon on the Fire

Planked Salmon on the Fire

When I tried this method of cooking, I did a whole side of salmon on an offcut of wood. I didn't have any wooden pegs so I used regular nails, and I was fresh out of bear grease so I used butter, a little olive oil and some herbs. I also put a cast iron pan beneath the plank to catch all the goodness that came out which I used to baste the fish and pour over the meat when finished. It took a little over 20 minutes, but it was a big piece of fish. 

Planked Salmon Finished and Ready to Serve

Planked Salmon Finished and Ready to Serve

The finished salmon fell away from the skin and was succulent and moist. Incredibly straight forward and extremely delicious.

Posted on September 16, 2014 and filed under Recipe.

Campfire Sausage Stew with Thyme Dumplings

Sausage Stew and Dumplings

Sausage Stew and Dumplings

Stew is one of my staple outdoor dishes; it's very hard to mess up and the results can be spectacular. This time however, I wanted to up the stew ante and nudge my culinary comfort zone a little further by taking on the mighty dumpling.

Ingredients

For the stew

  • 6 Really good sausages (I normally go for something herby and porky, preferably from a good butcher)
  • 2 Large white onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 Large carrots, sliced
  • 10 Small new potatoes, chopped in half
  • 1 Pint of stock (I used a couple of beef stock cubes)
  • 1 Can of cheap beer
  • 1 Bottle of expensive cider
  • Worchester sauce
  • Thyme
  • Oil for cooking (something with a high burning temperature, sunflower is fine)

For the dumplings

  • 1 Cup of self raising flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 50g Cold butter cubed
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped thyme
  • ¼ Cup of milk

Method

I cooked my stew on a campfire in a suspended Dutch oven, it needs to cook for several hours so make sure there are sufficient coals. I started with a big hot fire with slow burning wood and let it burn down. You can, of course vary the height of the oven and even cover it in coals if the heat is needed.

Sautéing and Grilling

Sautéing and Grilling

1. Lightly heat the Dutch oven and add the oil. Sauté the onions, do not let them brown - they should soften and go translucent.

2. While the onions were cooking, I put the sausages on a rack directly over the flames to seal and brown the outside. They don't need to cook through as this will happen later. I managed to tilt the grill in such a way that the oil and juices went into the Dutch oven for extra flavour.

3. Once the sausages are browned add them to the onions and pour in the stock, beer and cider. I added a good spoonful of thyme and a few good glugs of Worchester Sauce. Give it all a good stir and bring the oven to the boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. By now the broth should be coming together nicely and slowly reducing. Add the vegetables and return the stew to the heat, give it a good stir and cover, then cook for another 30 minutes. Mix up the dumplings.

5. To make the dumplings, pour the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs.

6. Add the herbs and the egg, and mix with your hand, adding just enough milk so that the mixture comes together in a sticky dough.

7. Check the stew, it should have reduced considerably making a thick, rich gravy; if it is too dry add a little water or stock. Give it another stir and then add large spoonfuls of the dough directly onto the top of the stew. Try and place them a few centimeters apart as they will puff up as they cook. Replace the lid on and cook for another 15 minutes.

8. Check the stew. The dumplings should have puffed up and increased in size and the stew should be thick and rich. I prefer the top of my dumplings to be crispy so I buried the Dutch oven in coals and  blasted it for another five minutes.

9. Then it is done. Serve quickly and eat heartily.

Stew and Dumplings Finished and Ready to Serve

Stew and Dumplings Finished and Ready to Serve

The stew is hefty and flavorsome, the dumplings sticky, doughy and morish. Shared between two we were both stuffed and had enough for lunch the day after. I'm not sure why I was so fearful of campfire dumplings, they were foolproof and a simple way of getting a delicious and filling bread course to my stew, with little effort.

Posted on July 6, 2014 and filed under Recipe.

Campfire Curry

Campfire Curry

Campfire Curry

This is my second attempt at documenting my campfire cookery. The dish is a little ambitious but worth the effort as there is nothing better than curry made from scratch. This particular recipe is loosely based on Pat Chapman's pragmatically named, yet delicious – "Medium Curry, Restaurant Style"  from "The Indian Restaurant Cookbook," published in 1984. Chapman is, in my opinion, one of the leading authors of Indian cookbooks and a champion of the English restaurant style of curry.

Finished Curry

Finished Curry

Campfire Curry, Restaurant Style

The beauty of this dish is that all of the more complicated components can be made in advance; the spices can be mixed and a simple onion purée can be made at home before you head out to camp.

Onion Purée

Roughly chop 10 onions, 20 large garlic cloves and 100g of fresh ginger and lightly fry in 300ml of vegetable oil over a light heat. This should take about 15 minutes; they should turn translucent but not brown. Purée the fried mixture and let cool, then fry for another 15 minutes with another 300ml of vegetable oil. This will make 10 cups of purée, which can be frozen for future curries.

Ingredients

1.4 kg skinned chicken cut into 3cm cubes (not just breast, make sure to use some thighs for more flavor) 2 cups of onion purée, brought from home (see above) 2 tbsp. tomato purée

Spices 1, mix this at home 2 tsp. ground cumin 2 tsp. ground coriander 2 tsp. turmeric 2 tsp. chilli powder (or more depending on how hot you like it) 2 tsp. ground ginger 2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. garam masala

Method

This is a baked curry so you will need a Dutch oven and a good bed of coals for a long slow cook. Build the fire big and hot and let it burn down to good cooking coals.

  1. Heat your Dutch oven to medium hot, add onion purée and fry until it is hot, add extra oil if you think it is sticking
  2. While the onion is frying mix a little water with spice mix 1 to make a paste
  3. Add this paste to the heated onions and give it a vigorous stir, making sure it doesn't stick, take it off the heat if it's getting too hot. Cook for a good five minutes - the goal is to remove all the water from the spices
  4. Add the chicken and the tomato and mix really well coating all the chicken
  5. Put on the Dutch oven lid and bake for 45 minutes at a medium heat (375°F, 190°C). I cannot help giving it a look every 15 minutes but if you feel you have the heat just right then leave it longer. This should be a dry-ish curry but if you feel it is going to burn add a little water.
  6. After 45 minutes add the garam masala and cook for another 10 minutes
  7. Serve with rice and flat breads.

The curry was spicy and rich, with tender chunks of chicken and enough sauce to mix with the rice. I've tried this dish at home with lamb, which was delicious, but the fire smoke and the outdoor surroundings certainly added new level of flavour to the curry.

The "The Indian Restaurant Cookbook" appears to be out of print now. It's not too hard to come by a second hand copy and is worth snapping up if you find it.

Posted on June 4, 2013 and filed under Recipe.