There is something very special about cooking food in the great outdoors, for us the food always seems to taste better when we cook it on the open campfire. All that fresh air, sea breeze and extra energy used when outdoors does wonders for your appetite. Our camp kitchen is now an integral part of our trips and we love nothing more than setting up camp and cooking simple but tasty camp food.
Camp cooking should not be seen as a chore but rather a fun part of your camping trip and in this article we are going to look at a couple of our favourite camp kitchen utensils and set ups.
In our opinion it’s all about equipping yourself with the right gear and developing simple cooking techniques that will deliver the goods and will have the entire family giving you the thumbs up.
Camp cooking can mean different things to different people, some like to go all-out spending as much time as they would at home preparing a complicated dish, where others are happy to eat beans straight from a tin.
For us it’s all about simplifying the process, taking your time and enjoying the experience as you cook top-notch dishes that will have everyone shouting for more.
You really don’t need to have every cooking gadget under the sun to be able to cook and present top-class camp food. Whenever we are going camping we will normally always bring a couple of core camp cooking items that include, a suitable table, our dutch oven, a portable fire pit, sometimes our battery-operated rotisserie and a good quality chopping board and knife to name but a few.
A good table should always be considered as this makes life simpler when preparing your food in the middle of nowhere, we use the DARCHE TRAKA table, this clever design folds neatly in half, with the four removable legs easily attached to the base of the table.
The table is light and can be easily stored on your roof rack or in the back of your 4WD or camper trailer. One of the real selling points of this eye-catching camping table is the alloy surface, no more worrying about burning the surface of your table with a hot coffee pot or a dutch oven that has just come of your fire.
Another one of our favourite pieces of kit has to be our Petromax Dutch Oven (Cast Iron Pot) We normally cook most of our camp food in it and this includes, fresh bread, roasts, stews, baked potatoes and vegetables, it has been the focal point of many a great camping trip over the years and hopefully many more to come.
Dutch Ovens and made to last and have been used for hundreds of years, by both pioneers out exploring new lands but also up until the turn of the century where they were traditionally found hanging over open fires in people’s homes where bread, and hearty meals were cooked for the entire family. These multi-use pots are made of cast iron and are perfect for baking bread, cooking roasts, stews or anything really, they are so versatile. Our Petromax Dutch Oven features a specially designed lid that can be used as a skillet or a platter.
If you do decide to experiment cooking with a dutch oven on your next camping trip, you will get the best results by cooking on an open fire but you can also use your Dutch Oven in fire pits.
Rotisserie – another one of our favorite pieces of cooking equipment is our easy to pack and set up rotisserie. This piece of kit has provided us with some very tasty meals over the years. So what is it? A rotisserie basically is a style of roasting where meat is slowly cooked over the open fire using a battery operated rotating motor. This method of cooking has been used for centuries with the name first emerging in France where it first appeared in Paris shops as far back as the fourteen hundreds. The results have to be tried to be believed, the process could not be simpler and the results are fantastic.
You should always place the meat on the middle of the rotisserie skewer and fasten as firmly as you can. If you are cooking chicken or some type of bird remember to secure the wings and legs in as tightly as possible, use a bit of string if you have it, if parts of the meat are loose and can flop around as it rotates this can affect the speed of the rotisserie, you can also burn the meat if it is not balanced correctly on the rod (remember no flames on the fire), keeping your meat balanced on the skewer will provide guaranteed perfect results. You just marinate the meat as you go, you can get on with other things while the meat is cooking, as it’s cooking slowly over a medium heat. We have cooked, lamb, beef, pork and chicken on our rotisserie and I have to say the crispy coated meat always tastes superb.
A necessary piece of kit is a good knife and chopping board. The large Snowpeak chopboard and knife set is a real camping luxury but for those of you who take your camp cooking seriously, who says you can’t have good quality cooking implements as part of your camp kitchen setup. The large Chopboard/Knife Combo now sold by DRIFTA through their new European online store includes a well-crafted folding timber chopboard with kitchen knife stored inside and a DRIFTA made bootliner bag that protects the wood when stored away. Overall this is a lovely and useful piece of kit that can be easily stored in the back of your vehicle and has a permanent place in one of our 4WD vehicles.
If you can’t have an open fire to cook on for whatever reason, no dramas, you can always use a fire pit, preferably one that is raised off the ground, as this will prevent the ground from being scorched. Some of the new fire pits on the market now come with grates and are collapsible and easier to store and they are also perfect for using with a rotisserie as the same cooking process applies, in fact we also use our dutch ovens with our portable fire pits.
In general, plan your menus before going camping, you don’t want to end up bringing lots of food with you and then having to waste it at the end of a camping trip. If you have meat in a portable fridge, good advice is to vacuum pack your grub, if you don’t have the machine ask your butcher to do it for you. This process is where the meat is wrapped in plastic and the air is extracted from the package allowing the meat to last for several days without the need to freeze it.
Camp cooking does not need to be a complicated exercise and if planned and executed correctly it will bring a whole new and enjoyable dimension to your next camping experience. So when you are planning your next camping trip, take your time and plan ahead, put some thought into designing a workable camp kitchen that will suit your needs, and most importantly enjoy cooking your next camp feast.