Introduction to Feisty Cooking
Cooking outdoors can be tricky which is why some people take ready prepared meals or if they’re travelling light, freeze dried foods. However sometimes it’s great to cook over a fire or use your gas stove to create a lovely warming dish for your friends. What could be better than catching a fish and cooking it that evening, roasting a hunk of meat caveman style, or picking wild mussels and eating them fresh in a quick one pot meal. There are some great camping food ideas out there.
When thinking about camping recipes we wanted to provide bomb proof meals that can be achieved in the wild using tools you’re likely to have, like a knife and Spork. We will cater to a range of camping styles from the bush-crafters who are happy carrying a little more weight to the ultra-lighters who need to use dried ingredients or create dehydrated meals at home.
Every camping recipe can be made over an open fire, you will only need one pot, and on the whole we never use more than six ingredients (none of which are strange items which can only be bought in obscure pretentious London based delicatessens). We also assume you will have basic cooking ingredients with you such as salt, pepper and some kind of oil.
Some of our camping recipes can be made in advance at home and brought with you such as cured meats that will keep without a refrigerator. Over time we will explore cooking inside a fire, curing meat, dehydrating meals and smoking fish!
Roasted Pork Sandwich
Massive hunk of Pork with crackling
This is the sort of meal a bearded Viking would revel in. I swear nothing tastes better than roasting meat this way. First up you need to construct your spit to cook the massive hunk of pork with crackling (MHOPWC).
Take two pieces of wood the thickness of a pool cue with a V shape at the top. Stick them into the ground next to your camp fire but not over it. Take another piece of wood and sharpen one end. You will use this to be your horizontal spar on which the pork sits (see picture on left).
Cover your pork in salt, this should help the crackling crackle. Drive the sharp piece of wood through the centre of the pork and place on top of the two vertical supports. Using another stick pull some of the coals from the fire and place them under the pork. Allow to cook and if it’s going a bit too slowly then pull more embers from the fire underneath the pork.
There’s no point waiting until the whole joint has cooked or the outer section will be too dry. We tend to use our camping knives to carve off strips, (classy kebab style) fill our baps and chow down. Obviously make sure the strips are cooked before munching.
I can’t tell you how feisty you will feel when you try this out. The crackling tastes fantastic and it’s so easy!
100ml white wine
100ml double cream
2 bulbs of garlic
Handful of parsley
It’s so easy to pick your own mussels in the wild (season between April – August) making this a great recipe for camping, however it requires a bit of preparation.
Obviously if collecting your own mussels, ensure you do so in unpolluted water and do some research on the subject beforehand to avoid food poisoning. Discard any that stay open after you’ve given them a wee tap with your knife. Give them a good scrub and rinse with water to remove any grit or sand.
A traditional Moules Mariniere doesn’t actually have cream in it, but by god include it and you will have a very tasty sauce indeed. For the health conscious amongst you simply remove it, you will still create a great meal!
Heat oil in your pan. Roughly chop the leak and garlic and fry for a few minutes to soften. Tip in the mussels, pour over the white wine and place the pan lid on top. The wine will help steam open the mussels, a process that should only take a couple of minutes; this of course depends upon how hot the stove/fire is.
Take off the lid and when you see that the mussels are starting to open drizzle over the cream, turn the mussels and add coarsely chopped parsley. Heat for one minute, season, and serve to your camp mates. It’s perfect with a loaf of bread to soak up the lovely sauce! Just make sure you don’t eat any mussels that haven’t opened up fully.
This is a great fun snack and is so easy. Use a mess tin and pour a few drops of oil in. Add the corn kernels, about enough to cover the base and sprinkle with salt. Lightly place the lid on the tin and place over a fire or gas stove. It should take less than five minutes before you have popcorn. Corn kernels are ridiculously lightweight to carry and are packed full of calories. 8g of corn kernels will create a cupful of popcorn which contains 30 calories. Experiment with different flavours such as honey, or cinnamon.
However avoid mixing marmite, I tried it and created a noxious black cloud of death that mercilessly tried to choke me.
800g pork shoulder
200g back fat
Flavouring (totally up to you what you include – try garlic and crushed fennel seeds, or juniper)
Natural hog casings (I bought mine online from http://www.sausage-casings.co.uk)
Preserving your own meat is amazing, and it’s the perfect ingredient to take on a camping trip as it lasts for ages and doesn’t need to be kept in a refrigerator. To make this recipe you will need a sausage maker and the cheapest place I’ve seen them for sale is Lakeland, around £15-20.
Add 25g of salt to 1000g of uncooked meat, don’t be tempted to use any more or the salami end up being far too salty. I added way too much once and created a sausage so salty that my eyes were sucked into my skull when I tried it, not a nice experience.
Take the meat and chop it up into a fairly fine dice, smaller than 1cm. Do the same for the back fat. Place your flavouring into a pestle and mortar with the salt and mash it up. Sprinkle over the pork ensuring you really work it into the meat.
Add the mix to your sausage maker and start filling up the hog casings. Tie off the end of the sausage and weigh making a note of each weight.
Hang the sausages for about 30 days somewhere fairly dry and cool. Note in the first few days it’s best to have a tray underneath them to catch any water. After two weeks or so a white mould may form on the outside of the skin, don’t be alarmed, you haven’t underachieved, this is perfectly normal and safe. Just make a very weak solution of water and vinegar and wipe the sausages.
When the sausages have lost 30% of their weight (check on scales) they are ready to munch on. The difficulty you will have is saving them for when you next go camping!
Trout a la Bonjour
First of all you need to catch your own trout. To do that you should have a look at the fishing articles within this website.
Once you have caught your fish, whack him on the head (quite hard) and gut him (unpleasant but necessary).
Now place the lifeless corpse of your fish onto a sheet of foil and stuff it with some fennel, dill and cherry tomatoes as well as more butter than you think is naturally prudent. Sprinkle liberally with salt and wrap up tightly. If cooking in a raging inferno then double wrap the fish to ensure all the juices stay inside the parcel.
Place in the very centre of the flames and leave for about 20 minutes although exact cooking times will depend upon how manly your fire is and how big the fish is.
After an appropriate amount of time has passed remove the fish and eat with a hunting knife. Our fish was perfectly cooked and had a nice sauce with it too!
A large handful of fine wood chippings
A large handful of damp twigs
Line the inside of your cooking pot with foil (this will stop the bottom of your pot getting too blackened by the smoking wood chips). Completely cover the base of the pot with wood chippings, ideally from a hard wood tree. Then add some fresh twigs with their leaves on top.
Lay the salmon fillet skin side down onto the twigs. Place the lid on the pot and cover with foil to ensure a good seal. Place on a low to moderate heat and wait for about 8-10 minutes.
Take off the heat and inspect for excellence. The fish should be a lovely orange colour on the outside and cooked right through so that the flesh flakes easily. It tastes outrageously good and it’s even worth cooking extra so you can take some home!
2 x Ribeye steaks
1 sourdough loaf
4 x handfuls of mushrooms
4 x shallots
Bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 shot Brandy
1 garlic clove
This sandwich was invented in the Edwardian era. Servants would make the mighty snack for their masters the night before they went out shooting but I can’t see any reason why it can’t be made before an awesome camping trip although I admit this is hardly a light weight recipe.
Slice off the top quarter of the bread and hook out most of the fluffy inner section (You could save this to make croutons for a salad). Finely cut the shallots and mushrooms and put about 25g of butter into the pan.
Cook mushrooms and shallots fiercely in the butter, stirring continuously, until they’ve softened, reduced in size and lost a substantial amount of moisture. This is the classic ‘duxelles’ mixture used in a beef Wellington.
Once sufficiently cooked down the mushrooms will absorb flavour like a sponge. Use plenty of salt and black pepper, some finely grated garlic a shot of brandy and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and chopped flat leaf parsley (flat leaf has more flavour than the curly stuff).
Season your steaks and bring them to the pink side of medium in a searing hot dry pan. Whilst the steak is still hot place it onto the bottom of the hollow loaf. It doesn’t matter if the juices leak now – in fact it just makes the whole thing more glorious.
Dollop in your hot mushroom mixture and tuck your second steak over the top. At this stage smear hot horseradish on the top steak and if you like some Dijon mustard on the inside of the lid before fitting it back on to the loaf.
Wrap the whole thing in greaseproof paper and tie with string, then wrap in two layers of foil and flatten under a weighty chopping board topped with lots of heavy things to push it down. Leave under the weights in a reasonably cool place for at least six hours or preferably overnight. Remove the foil and cut through string, paper and sandwich.
Serve around a camp fire with something vaguely vegetable-based to assuage the guilt; perhaps a bottle of beer full of hoppy goodness.
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic (yes forty)
1 whole chicken (approx 1.3kg)
4 x bulbs of garlic
3 pieces of thyme
About 250ml white wine
Tbsp olive oil
This recipe sounds like it’s been put together by the chief executive of fantasy land but I assure you it works, in fact it doesn’t just work it dominates all other one pot meals and produces a seriously gourmet end result! The garlic isn’t overpowering in any way, the slow cooking turns it into a paste which thickens the sauce to create a lovely mellow flavour.
However there’s no point making this unless there’s at least four of you, that way you can justify the weight of taking a whole chicken with you. You also want people to be around when you cook this as they will nay say to begin with and then think you’re incredible when they taste the end result.
Take the chicken and salt the inside of the cavity before putting garlic cloves and half a lemon up it. The garlic cloves remain in their skins, that way once they are cooked you have the joy of squeezing them and out will come a delicious paste.
Chuck the rest of the garlic and the remaining lemon half in the bottom of the largest cooking pot you have. Pour in the wine, or water if you’re keeping things simple. Bash your thyme up a bit and then add that to the pot too.
Oil the outside of the chicken, drop it inside the pot on top of the garlic. Place the lid on and cook over embers for between 1.5 – 2 hours (you could use a Dutch oven). You will need to ensure the wine/water doesn’t dry out so be prepared to top it up. Once cooked serve the chicken, sauce, some of the garlic cloves with some crusty bread and await rapturous applause and respect.
River Water Porridge
50g porridge oats
350ml water (approx)
Boil your water, but if using river water you should treat it first as boiling doesn’t remove all the nasties. To do this see our article on how to purify water.
Pour your oats into the pot containing the boiled water. It will appear that there’s far too much water but the oats will absorb this. Give it a good stir then place the lid on for a minute or so.
When you check the oats if they appear too stodgy just add a little more water. To finish you can just sprinkle on a little salt, alternatively bring a small pot of honey or dried fruit with you to liven up this camping staple.
Feisty Chilli Sauce
15 x Scotch Bonnet Chilli Peppers
2 x Tbsp salt
2 x Tbsp olive oil
2 x Tbsp cider vinegar
Put on some rubber gloves or prepare to know the meaning of searing pain. Now de-seed the chillis and slice them up.
Place them in a blender with the salt and whizz it up until you have a fine pulp. Now add the vinegar and oil and blitz once again. Have a quick taste and be proud of your achievement. Not only is this hot but it’s mouth wateringly tasty!
Pour into a sterilised jar and it will keep for 3 months in the fridge! Just take a small amount with you on your next camping trip and you won’t be disappointed!