Today’s post was inspired by Melissa, over at Adventure Tykes. She recently asked a group of us, all of whom are outdoor bloggers, to share a favorite family camping recipe and link it back to her post.
Sure, there are many, many places to find Campfire Cuisine on the Internet, but not all of them come endorsed by mom, or these wonderful outdoor moms. Enjoy!
Hail! The Dutch Oven
When my husband and I were dating, we had two friends, Brett and Wendy, who were really into camping and Dutch oven cooking. With great enthusiasm, they’d tell us about stews and ribs and peach cobblers, and we’d think, “Wow, that’s way too hard,” as we boiled water for yet another camping meal of pasta.
Fast forward two decades (yikes!) and we’re the crazy Dutch oven couple. Actually our entire family loves cooking in the Dutch oven, thanks to the enthusiasm of my brother, who finally converted us (thanks BD…our outdoor dining is so much improved because of you).
While Dutch oven cooking can at first blush seem difficult, it is really oh-so-easy. The most important thing to remember is to get the right equipment. Not only do you need a solid, heavy cast iron Dutch oven, but you need tools to distribute coals and pick up the steaming hot lid. Tongs and channel lock pliers work really well for these jobs. Some seriously thick leather gloves are also a good idea. I know. It sounds like too much trouble, too much equipment. But when your stew is bubbling away and you’re relaxing with the family around the fire while it cooks, you’ll be converted!
Dutch Oven Beef Stew
Prep Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: Approximately 1 hour. Serves: 6-8.
- 2 pounds stew meat cut into small, uniform chunks
- 6 potatoes, cut into small uniform chunks
- 1 cup baby carrots (cut to your taste, but keep ’em uniform!)
- 1 cup celery cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 package dried beef stew mix
- 1 package dried beef gravy mix (if you can’t find both mixes, you can use two of which ever you can find)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Water, as neededStart your coals about 20-30 minutes before you want to cook. We use matchlight briquets so that we don’t have to travel with lighter fluid. You can also use coals from a wood fire.Add the beef, and just enough water to cover it, to the Dutch oven. Place the oven on the coals and cook until the beef is tender. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery and onion, and cook until tender. Add the stew and gravy mixes and combine thoroughly. If necessary, add more water. Simmer until you think it’s all done (about 10 minutes) and it smells so good, you can’t wait any longer. Take Dutch oven off of coals and serve.
So that’s the recipe, but here’s the “secret” tip. Each time you put the lid on to cook, place some coals on top of the Dutch oven. Camping Dutch ovens have a lip around the lid to hold the coals on. Yes, it’s a mess and you have to remember to take them off before you remove the lid or you risk dropping them into your stew. But having heat from the top and the bottom is what makes a Dutch oven an oven, and not just a pot.
Here’s another tip. Never use soap on cast iron. Instead, scrape the pot as clean as you can and then wash it with clear water. Dry the pot thoroughly and apply cooking oil to the interior of the pot with a paper towel. This keeps the oven seasoned and ready to go for your next adventure!
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