Tricks while cooking outdoors

By Wild Chef Anders Klint on 2014.01.31 In Campfire

You might be a very good cook at home, but you have to take a different kind of technique when cooking at the campfire. While it is always easy to throw your food on a grill over a fire or use a barbecue stick, there are some tricks you can have in your back pocket that will get your friends to react like this “oooooh”. Below I will share with you some tricks to use when cooking on a fire.

Meat or fresh fish in wild leaves

This is a pretty nifty little thing that can bring a new flavor to your food, but it can also subtly convey a unique seasoning and cooking method for it. I love to cook freshly caught fish wrapped in twigs, or wrapped like a spiral with long poles and wild leaves, which gives it an earthy taste. Char in maple or ash leaves are especially good. Just wrap the leaves around the fish and tie poles around the whole caboodle to stay together (alternatively: if the leaves are long or big enough, simply fold them over and place them folded down) and place it just above the coal bed, or next to the fire. The leaves will help the meat steam, and protect the skin from burning.

There are lots of edible leaves you can use to wrap your food in. There are of course the favorites such as palm leaves, banana leaves, reed leaves, corn husks and leaves of grapes but you can use the leaves of wild garlic, sorrel, lime, hibiscus, nettles, ash, chestnut, juniper, alder, potatoes, beans, plots, walnut, maple trees, oak trees, cherry trees, and many more (other than me who will think of Forrest Gump and shrimp?).

 Boil water in a paper cup

Yep, I said it. Water is a great conductor of heat, and as long as it is under normal atmospheric pressure (15 psi or so) it will not get hotter than 100 degrees in liquid form. As the paper does not burn until this temperature is reached, you can literally take a cheap paper cup, fill it with water and place it directly on the embers of a fire. You may need to experiment this, but basically, the water prevents the paper from burning. Next time you are out on adventures and engaging in outdoor activities, try and get some water from a stream or a lake, put it in a cup directly on the coals, and when that’s done, pick it up from the embers when the water boils, add little cocoa, and watch your friends and their facial expressions, “Yes, that ‘s right, I boil water in the paper. Who would like to test for me?“ But keep in mind that the material that is not in direct contact with the water will burn, so watch out.

Use your entertainment talent by using your cutting board as a flying disc

Obviously, you will clean it when you are done, but everyone in the camp will think you are smart as hell when you cleaned it and start cutting up wild plants with your Swiss army knife on it! Not a lot of education is needed for this one, just, do it. Fill the cup with water from a mountain stream, place it on the twigs on the embers and serve your guests with a divinely good drink.

Boil an egg in an orange peel

This process uses the same concept as the above tips. Grab an orange and halve it. Carve the meat from both sides; be careful not to cut through the skin. While enjoying the yummy flesh, crack an egg or two in each of the two orange peel “cups”, and put them in a bed of hot coals. When you see the whites begin to solidify, take up the orange halves from the coals and you now have tasty egg with a slightly smoky barbeque flavor. You can do this also in different variations, such as whipping up eggs, cheese and vegetables; then you have made ​​yourself a small omelet. It tastes pretty damn good, with a hint of smoke and citrus. Very cool.

Learn the art of learning the venerable tramp art

You may have heard of this cooking technique, and that this technique is called a “tramp dinner” or “packet dinner”, but I think this technology is so perfect that it needs to be lifted up to the skies and get a well-deserved reputation. If you were at home using a similar technique in your oven with baking paper, a snotty chef say you cook a “papillote” because everything sounds better in French. (Seriously, look up the French word for baby seals/seal pups). I say if we are snotty, let’s call this technique “Cuisson dans une feuille d’etain” and begin to elevate it to the level it deserves. This is basically a wet cooking method that suppresses the heat from the coals, and all you need is to combine some aromatic vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, leeks, celeriac, etc.), some other yummy vegetables (Brussels sprouts, green beans), a meat or fish that you have access to or you like, some herbs or spices, a little fat or oil, and a small amount of cooking liquid, or any commodity that will drop liquid (water, broth, wine, fruit, slices of citrus). Simply add it all up in a double layer of aluminum foil, roll the edges tightly so nothing can get out, and drop it all on coals. How long you leave it in depends on how small you cut the raw materials and the type of materials you put in the package. Meat, for instance, should be cut into smaller pieces, as well as some vegetables with longer cooking time such as potatoes, celeriac etc. This method of cooking can cook everything from roasted salmon with lemon, butter and dill, a Bouef bourguignon, a whole chicken, or a Moroccan lamb stew. This is awesome!

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