Campfire Gourmet

Recipes from the Bay's best chefs

By The Editors

Get a gourmet upgrade for your next campfire meals
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20 July 2015

There's more to campfire cuisine than your drop-and-roll space food. Courtesy of some of the Bay Area's finest chefs — and test-driven in the wilds surrounding our fair city — these four recipes guarantee a gourmet experience from appetizer to morning meal. 

Meal: Root Vegetable Hash with Steak and Salsa Verde
Courtesy Robin Song of Hog & Rocks

Campfire cooking is all about the technique, tools and planning. Cast iron, aluminum foil and hot embers are musts. Typically on the first night, while setting up camp, I’m cooking and prepping for the next few days. When you start your fire you really want to let your fire burn till you have a nice bed of red embers. 

6 large russet potatoes
4 large carrots
6 spring onions
2 to 4 steaks
1 bunch parsley
2 large shallots
1/4 vinegar of choice (I prefer white wine but any will do — red wine, sherry …)
1 lemon
1/2 nice olive oil
Salt
Aluminum foil

Bury 4 large carrots directly in red hot embers. When you do this, make the sure wood has burned off to the point where they are glowing red and not engulfed in flames. Be sure to also cover completely to ensure it does not burn up in flames. The exposure to air will engulf the carrots in flames and burn. About 30 minute, ’til tender. I will take a small knife and stab the carrots while in the coals, when the knife passes the carrot without resistance, it's done. When ready remove. Let cool and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside. 

Stab 2 russet potatoes all over with a small knife, then wrap them individually in foil. Place them around the fire up against the coals for about 45 minutes rotating regularly to not burn any one side. Let them cool all the way. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces and set aside.

Wrap 6 spring onions in foil with salt, pepper and oil, then place right on the flames for about 10 minutes. Seal the foil pouches well, so that it is airtight; as the onions cook, the bag will fill up with steam. Rotate halfway through to not burn onions.

While waiting for all the vegetables — or earlier in the day — you can make the salsa. This recipe is with parsley but any green herb can be added or replace it. Mince shallots and macerate with salt and vinegar. Chop parsley. Add to shallot. Season with extra virign olive oil, lemon juice and salt as needed.

Place a cast-iron skillet right on the bed of coals and cook your steak. Remove the steak and rest. While resting, get the skillet hot again, and saute potato and carrots in the skillet. Once golden brown and crispy, add spring onions and its juices. 

Side Dish: Sweet Stick Bread
Courtesy Carrie and Rupert Blease of Lord Stanley 

2 1/2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon sugar or honey 
2 tablespoon milk powder
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
1 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients together. These can be kept in a Ziploc bag.

Add all wet ingredients to the Ziploc, seal and mix as thoroughly as possible. Empty bag onto a plate and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until completely incorporated and the dough is smooth and shiny. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Find a nice, long stick. Scrape the end of the stick to remove the outside bark. Soak this end in water. Once your campfire is roaring, place the soaked end of the stick into the fire to get it hot, then take your dough and wrap it around the the stick. Heating it up first will help steam the inside of the bread. Place the dough-end back into the campfire. Rotate occasionally to achieve an even, golden-brown color on all sides (the addition of the milk powder helps with caramelization).

Once your bread is ready, eat it straight away. We like to dip in fruit compote or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Dessert: Foil Roasted Peaches and Berries
Courtesy Robin Song and Hog & Rocks

Wrap each half of a peach with a handfull of berries, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Place on coals for about 15 minutes, until hot, bubbly and tender. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Breakfast: Campfire Grits
Couresty Wes Rowe of Wes Made and Wes Burger

1/2 pound breakfast sausage (homemade or Jimmy Dean)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cooked stone-ground grits (not instant grits; follow directions on packaging)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons flour
4 eggs

Soak grits overnight in a Ziploc to speed up cooking process

Heat 12" cast-iron skillet over fire. Brown sausage; set aside. Melt butter in cast iron and stir in flour, pepper and milk. Cook on medium heat, stirring until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Mix half of the cheese sauce with cooked grits and sausage and pour into greased cast iron. Make four indentations in grits with back of large spoon.

Break one egg into each indentation.

Cook covered on cool part of fire for 20 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through. (You can use a few layers of foil if you don't have a lid.) 

Serve with remaining heated cheese sauce.

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