As the summer fades and gives way to fall’s cooler, crisper days, the great expanse of the woodlands, mountains and forest beckons. And now what’s for supper? Please, leave the canned beans and cold hot dogs at home. We asked some seasoned chefs (who also happen to be camping aficionados) from across the country to share their culinary wisdom and recall some of their favorite spots and memories. Below, a few of their recipe recommendations for eating in the great outdoors. They'll definitely take your next trip into the wilderness up a notch.
Fire Roasted Trout, Radishes, Fennel, Grilled Cilantro Relish By Chef Carlo Lamagna - Executive Chef of Clyde Common, Chef/Co-Owner of Honky Tonk Taco (Portland, OR)
"My uncle used to take us camping when we were young and was the one who taught us how to fish. We would cook whatever we caught directly on the campfire. It always added that unique flavor that you can't replicate indoors. Maybe it's just me, but there is something about being in the elements and cooking something that you caught, over a fire that you started, that adds a special something to the food. Outside of the experience and moment, charring over an open flame adds depth of flavor to any item whether it's fish, vegetables, or even herbs, like the one used in the relish. I consider campfire as an actual ingredient, because of that added oompf. Funny thing is, the first fish I ever "caught" was one that my uncle put on my line. I have a picture of me beaming with pride somewhere."
1 Rainbow Trout, whole, cleaned
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup sliced radishes (Easter egg or French breakfast radish)
1 cup sliced fennel
1/2 cup relish (see below)
Grilled Cilantro Relish
1/2 bunch of cilantro
4 whole green onion
3 tablespoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Instructions for fish:
Season Trout with salt and pepper and skewer with a stick or camping long skewer. Prop on a rock by the fire to slowly roast on an open fire
Instructions for the Relish:
Take cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion and quickly toss in oil and grill.
Rough chop all ingredients and season with fish sauce and lime juice. Depending on taste, you may use more or less lime juice and fish sauce
Toss radish and fennel with relish and top roasted trout and enjoy!
Stone Cooked Miso Marinated Flank Steak courtesy Chef Michael Hung, Viviane (Beverly Hills, CA)
“I love camping! When I was in high school and college I would go camping with my friends and family in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Now that I’m on the West Coast, I camp in the areas around Yosemite. One of the ways I like to cook while camping is on stone. I look for a large, flat river stone and drop it into the campfire. When it is hot, I cook a variety of things... for example, thinly sliced marinated flank steak. Of course burgers and hot dogs work well too. The result is a wonderful smoky flavor from the wood, and in the case of the flank steak, an evenly seared surface.”
4 pounds flank steak
1/4 cup red miso
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil (for oiling the stone)
At least 1 day before cooking, combine miso, water, and lemon juice and whisk well to incorporate into a thin paste. Slather miso paste evenly over flank steak and marinate in a bag or flat dish for at least 24 hours. This can be done prior to leaving for the camping trip and will hold for several days.
Build a large wood fire. Once some of the wood burns down to coals, rake coals to the side in a thin, even layer. Place a large flat river stone over the coals and then spread a thin layer of coals on top of the stone. Every 15 minutes place more coals over the stone until it is completely buried. This should take about an hour. The idea is to heat the stone slowly and evenly so it doesn’t crack.
Once the stone is hot, brush the coals off the stone. You can move the stone over a new bed of coals if the coals beneath have extinguished.
Pour a small amount of vegetable oil on the stone and wipe with a cloth. Be careful as the stone is hot and the oil might flare up on the adjacent coals. Add some more oil and gently wipe on the stone to coat evenly.
Stoke the fire around the stone and add green wood. Arrange the fire in a semi-circle around the stone. You are looking for moderate heat and a good amount of smoke.
Place the flank steak on the stone. If necessary, cut the steak into smaller pieces so they better fit on the stone. You are not looking for a sizzle. Every few minutes rotate and flip the flank steak and move it around the stone so it is evenly exposed to the heat and smoke. The idea is to cook the flank steak gently and slowly. Cook for about 20 minutes until the steak is medium to medium well.
Let the steak rest in a warm area for about 10 minutes before serving. To serve, gently rewarm and then slice the flank steak thinly against the grain.
NOTE: Flank steak is generally tough when cooked to temperatures higher than medium, but the miso helps break down some of the proteins and allows the meat to be cooked to medium well and stay tender. A 36- to 48-hour marinade is ideal.
Gentle application of heat is also important to keeping the meat tender. Slowly cooking the flank steak and moving the steak in and out of the heat will keep the muscle fibers from contracting rapidly and less of the juices will be expunged. The long cooking time also allows for longer exposure to smoke and will result in more flavor.
Bibimbap courtesy James Beard Award winner, Chef Tory Miller - L’Etoile, Graze, Sujeo, Estrellón, (Madison, WI)
“I love going camping in Wisconsin’s Door County with my wife and two young sons. I used to go more often, but now we like to just take an annual trip every summer to enjoy northern Wisconsin,” notes Chef Miller. “I’m really big into cooking meat and things right on the fire or hot rocks, so we make foil packets to create one of my favorite Korean dishes. Bibimbap works well as a camping dish because you can prep a few ingredients before leaving for the trip, assemble at the camp site, and then just throw it in the fire to cook. You can also do any kind of variation on this dish using different vegetables or meats, so it’s really versatile.”
**NOTE: I have made this in a cast iron pan right in the fire as well and it works great. I also usually bring the meat, rice and veggies in separate Tupperwares and assemble the packets on-site.
Ingredients for the marinade and meat:
1 cup of grated pear (we use Asian pear from the market, but you can use Bosc or moonglow, grated on the small holes of a Box grater.)
1/2 cup grated onion
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 teaspoons of minced ginger
5 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds of 80/20 ground beef
Blend all ingredients except ground beef in the food processor until smooth.
Pour marinade into the ground beef. Mix with your hands until it is all incorporated. This can keep in the fridge for up a full day before your trip.
To cook, heat a large cast iron skillet or non-stick sauté pan on high, add a little vegetable oil and cook the meat until browned and fully cooked. Remove and cool. Pack in an airtight container to bring on the trip.
Ingredients for the bibimbap sauce:
1/4 cup gochujang chili paste
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Mix well and store in an airtight container to bring on your camping trip.
Ingredients For Assembly:
For 6 packets:
9 cups of cooked and cooled short grain rice
1 cup of julienne carrot
1 cup of julienne daikon radish
1 cup of julienne zucchini
1 pound of spinach roughly chopped
6 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
1 bunch of scallions chopped
The pre cooked marinated meat.
Tear off 12 equally sized pieces of foil. Around 12-15 inches long. You will use two pieces per packet, so each packet will be double wrapped.
Spray 6 pieces of foil with the pan spray.
Place 1 1/2 cups of the cooked rice into a pile and make a small "well" in the center, cracking an egg into each well
In a large bowl toss all of remaining ingredients together and place into equal piles on top of the rice and egg.
Gently fold the foil around the mixture like a burrito, encasing the entire filling. Then repeat the wrap job with the second piece of foil.
**This can be done ahead and kept refrigerated or on ice at 40 degrees until ready to cook.
Start your campfire.
When the coals begin to cook down and turn white, they are ready to cook on. Using a fire shovel, scoop some of the white hot coals out to the side and gently spread them out evenly, and place the packets on the top. Cook for around 5-7 min.
Remove the packets, cut them open down the middle and top with some of the bibimbap sauce and enjoy right out of the packets.
Potato Crusted Trout Filets with Haricots Verts and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes courtesy Top Chef Kelly Liken - Mercat a la Planxa (Vail Valley, Colorado)
Chef Linken and her family are avid campers. They recently upgraded their camping game with an RV to use when they take off around Colorado and the surrounding states to explore. Her favorite spots include Highline Lake State Park in Fruita, Colorado, just east of the Utah border of Utah. The park is a reservoir oasis in the middle of the high desert in western Colorado, complete with a swimming beach, kayaking, and fishing. Kelly and her family have also spent time in Ouray, Colorado, at the Amphitheater campground. The site overlooks the town on the top of a box canyon. “The best thing about this recipe is that it can be done in one pan, ideal for camping as there is less mess!”
8 Rainbow Trout Filets, skinned
10 Fingerling Potatoes, sliced paper thin into disks
1 cup All Purpose flour
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 pound Haricots Verts, blanched
1 pint heirloom (or other) cherry tomatoes
Butter and Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce (see below)
Dust the skin side of filets in flour and then dredge in egg wash. Lay filets, egg side up, on a sheet pan. Place potato slices on filets to resemble scales on a fish.
Warm haricots verts in a sauté pan in a little butter or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes to the hot pan until the skin starts to blister. Keep warm while you sauté the fish.
Cover the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil. Heat to just smoking, season fish with salt and pepper. Place fish carefully, potato side down, in the pan and cook until potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Flip over and remove pan from heat while you place haricots verts and tomatoes on the plates.
Top the vegetables with the cooked filets and dress the plate with the buerre blanc sauce (see below).
Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce
1 cup dry white wine
2 shallots, chopped
1 sprig fresh Thyme
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Juice of 1 lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Put wine, shallots, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf in a sauce pan, bring to a simmer and reduce until syrupy.
Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, off the heat, until all the butter is melted and incorporated.
Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Keep in a warm place, off direct heat. The sauce will hold in a warm place for about an hour.
Big Tex Frito Pie Recipe courtesy Chef Jason Dady – San Antonio
WARNING: You better have a reserved a group campsite if you’re making this because it serves 30.
12 pounds Chopped Beef (from a 15 pound whole brisket)
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
64 ounces BBQ Sauce
8 x 10.25oz Bags of Frito Corn Chips- Original Flavor (Flamin’ Hot or Cheddar Cheese flavors also work)
3 pounds shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound jalapeño Peppers, Diced
1 pound scallions, chopped
1 pound red onion, small diced
6 bunches cilantro
64 ounces sour cream
32 ounces BBQ Sauce
If you don’t have time to smoke your own brisket you can pick up a whole one at your favorite BBQ joint. Once you’ve got your meat read, chop it into very small pieces with a large chef’s knife and add to the 64 ounces of BBQ sauce. Season as needed with salt and pepper, if needed. Set Aside.
Heat chopped beef in large pan.
Using a large 48-inch paella pan, open all bags of Fritos and cover the bottom of the pan. It should be at least 2 inches deep of Fritos, across the entire pan.
Add the hot chopped beef, in the center of the Fritos and spread across the entire pan.
Garnish next with cheese, tomato, jalapeño, scallions, red onion.
Chop the cilantro and sprinkle on top.
Using a large spoon, place large dollops of sour cream randomly around the Frito pie.
To finish, drizzle with remaining 32 oz of BBQ sauce
Rainier Beer Steamed Clams courtesy Executive Chef Carolynn Spence, Shaker + Spear (Seattle, WA)
Chef Spence on camping: “Setting up camp somewhere between where the trees end and the water begins, building a fire under the stars, shut off from life's hamster wheel, heightens one's palate and appreciates one's company. Unless there's bears. Then…Run. Fast.”
An empty airline booze bottle full of extra virgin Olive oil (well marked. Because you’ll have a few full of the real stuff too)
1 Sweet White onion, julienned
2 links of Uli’s French Onion Sausage (of Pike place market). Precook & slice ahead of time
1 pound Red potatoes, pre boil & cut into halves or quarters if too big
2 stalks corn cut into round slices
3 pounds Manilla Clams (Spence likes the ones she picks up in Skookum, Washington)
12 pack tallboy Rainier Beer,
2 teaspoons of mix of kosher salt, ground pepper, coriander and ground chili flake
1 spruce tip (if there are spruce trees around)
A big loaf of bread (of your choice)
Get a pot hot, add olive oil, onions, corn, sausage and potatoes and cook 5 minutes.
Add 1 can of beer and bring to simmer. Add clams and spruce tip, cover & simmer until all the clams are open. Season broth with spice mixture to taste.
Consume the other 11 tallboys at your leisure.