Who doesn’t like a great campfire meal after and active day exploring stunning places like Kakadu National Park or the Kimberley? It’s the perfect way to end a day. Yes, you could just cook on a portable gas stove, but why would you if you can try one of the fantastic campfire cooking recipes below?
Let’s start with some dinner ideas. First of all, you need to ensure you have a good cooking fire. A camp cook is only as good as his/her fire, and a fire is only as good as the wood that is used. Aim for dry hard wood, branches that have fallen and split, never use green wood. You want a medium thickness, something around the circumference of your arm. You will need dry leaves, grass and twigs to start your fire. Once you have a good flame top up with wood, starting with the thinnest sticks and getting bigger as the flame catches. The amount of wood needed will depend on what you are cooking, and whether you need coals. Never use more wood than what you need to cook to avoid resource depletion. Once your flame has settled down, put on your BBQ plate and control the heat by shifting coals and wood with a spate or shovel. Always supervise children around campfires!
Easy and delicious camp oven bake
This is a hearty meal to fill hungry explorer tummies. Use vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato and corn, add onion if you like. Added advantage: hard vegetables do not necessarily need to be kept in a cooler, so you can eat healthily even if you have limited cooler space. Cut up your veggies in chunky pieces, put them in your camp oven and add a generous amount of olive oil. Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly, put on your lid and place your camp oven on your BBQ plate or directly on the fire if you have a low flame and good coals. You will need a good even heat for the cooking process, so add more wood if needed. Now simply sit back and wait while listening to the sizzling of your veggies (if you can’t hear anything your oven isn’t getting enough heat). It should take 30-40 mins for your vegetables to be cooked. Once almost done, fry your steaks, sausages or meat/ veggie burger of your preference on your hot plate and serve together.
Fish and vegetables in foil
This is a great recipe if you do not have many pots, pans etc., and if you are the type of camper who still burns more food directly on hot plate than what is left to eat… Prepare pieces of aluminium foil, place your fish fillets in the foil and add herbs, garlic etc. to your liking. Cajun fish works a treat! Use two layers of foil to avoid burning, don’t wrap the foil too tightly- leave some room for air to develop heat and steam. For easier opening once cooked, wrap the foil around only once, fold over the sides and roll the foil down from the top. Place your foil packages on your hot plate. Use a medium to high heat. Do the same with your vegetables, chopping them into small slices and adding olive oil and spices. This works best with vegetables such as carrots, capsicum, mushrooms etc.- vegetables that will discharge water while cooking. Turn your packages with tongues after around 10 mins. To test if your veggies are done, you can use a fork, however, this will let steam/ heat escape so be patient and don’t do it too soon or too often. You can also carefully open the top of your packages to check. It should take around 20 mins to cook everything, more if your packages are big.
Potatoes cooked in coals
An all-time favourite, however, it takes some experience to make the perfect spud. Again, it’s all in the preparation. You need good coals, from good solid hard wood. You will need to have time at camp to start your fire early, so that you have enough coals when you need them. Even better if you can use an existing fire pit that has recently been used and still has some good coals and ash in it. Prepare your potatoes by scalloping them slightly making a few vertical cuts about half way through your potato. This will help the cooking process. You can also rub some olive oil and salt on before wrapping the potatoes in two layers of foil. Once you have good, glowing coals, dig a hole about 10-15 cm deep near your fire and fill it with coals, add your potatoes, then top with coals again. Let the potatoes cook for about 30 minutes before testing. Get your potatoes out of the coals with tongues and be careful not to burn yourself when opening the foil packages. Hot tip: If you are a pro you have counted your potatoes to make sure you get them all out. Top with grated cheese and sour cream if you like, and serve with your favourite meat, fish or tofu and a healthy salad.
The quantities needed for the above recipes will depend on your group size and appetite, so we will leave that up to you. Keep an eye on our blog for more delicious recipes to come, including desserts and camp oven recipes. Dig in!
Important note: Please ensure you do not collect more wood than you need. With the high numbers of campers in the Top End and the Kimberley, fallen wood can be depleted quickly through a season, and your fellow explorers will miss out. NEVER rip or cut branches off living trees (yes, we see it all the time). That wood won’t be any good anyway as it is green. When visiting national parks, check their wood policies. Some parks will need you to bring in your own wood while others only let you use locally collected wood.