Campfire cuisine


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Nothing will make you feel like you’re truly experiencing the great outdoors like gathering around the campfire to rustle up a rustic meal. Regardless of how simple, or how swish, the dish, the smoky flavours and the sense of achievement will sharpen your appetite like nothing else.

Campfire cuisine
Campfire cuisine

Equipment

Campfire cooking requires some planning. Especially when it comes to equipment. You may need to keep it light, but if you can afford some extra weight, invest in good, cast-iron camping cookware. It will last a lifetime and, once seasoned, will be better than any expensive non-stick cookware item you can name. Believe me, I've seen this proven many times with confirmed sceptics, who grumble about the weight and the rust, and then become born again cast-iron converts. It's all I use at home when frying or stir-frying. My next investment is another Dutch oven for stews, damper bread, what-have-you.

Toasties with the mostie

But I absolutely would not gather around the campfire without my trusty jaffle iron. At least that's what we call them in Tasmania, where I come from. In New Zealand they are known as toasted sandwich makers — and in the USA: hobo pie makers. Whatever you choose to call yours, I've no doubt they will become a favourite for the campfire. Jaffle irons come in single or double layouts and they're also made out of heavy cast aluminium, but I prefer the cast iron versions any day. These can be used to make bread and almost any fillings into gourmet fare.

Here's how

Butter bread slices and place the first one butter-side down onto the bottom of your well-seasoned jaffle iron, then layer up your fillings before adding the last layer of bread (butter-side up), close the lid and push down the clip to secure it. Use a sharp knife to cut away any crusts outside of the cooking iron. These will just burn to a crisp (although sometimes kids love these burnt and buttery morsels, so perhaps ask around the campfire first!). Place your jaffle iron over good, hot embers and turn frequently. It may take some time to judge the right cooking time which will vary according to the heat of the fire or barbecue.

Some fillings to try include baked beans and cheese, thinly-sliced bacon and an egg, tinned stew, or steak and kidney, chilli con carne or chilli beans; and any other savoury filling you can think of. For sweeter versions try tinned apple or other tinned fruits, or fresh or frozen berries. After cooking sprinkle these with icing sugar or caster sugar, if desired. I also love banana and peanut butter. You might like to try mashed banana and a square or two of chocolate.

Damper Bread

Truly a campfire classic, Damper Bread is also versatile and once you master the basics you can spice it up or dress it down.

  • 450g (3 cups) self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 80g butter, chilled and cubed
  • 185ml (3/4 cup) water or beer

Add the water to the flour mixture and use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture just comes together, adding one or two tablespoons of extra water if the mixture is a little dry. Use your hands to finish off the mixing.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Shape into the right size for your Dutch oven. Use a sharp knife that has been dipped in flour to mark eight wedges on top. Dust the damper with a little extra flour and cover with the oven lid. Bake over the coals until the damper is cooked through and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Vary by adding Golden Syrup for a sweet version or cheese, chopped olives, dried tomatoes, or herbs for a savoury version.

Fire-stick savvy

For the most basic of campfire cooking, you can't beat a green stick over an open fire. Almost anything can be cooked this way from fish to steak or sausages and breads or bananas in their skins with a hidden chocolate centre; and of course the all-time classic, toasted marshmallows.

Bread on a stick

Try wrapping some basic bread dough around a green stick and toasting over the embers. Yum.

Feel free to make a comment or ask us a question about these recipes on the MCD Facebook page.

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