Five Meals to Cook Whilst Wild Camping by Harrison Ward, the Fell Foodie
Chances are if you have enjoyed a wild camp before you have experienced cooking over a fire. More likely though is that this meal was of the prepacked variety, dehydrated and lightweight. Now I am in no way dismissing the place for these adventure foods. The purpose they serve in emergency situations, multiple night camps or in remote locations is instrumental to the safety and completions of these explorations. However, for a one night, fairer weather camp in the lower altitude hills and mountains of the British Isles they are the equivalent to a microwavable Chicken Tikka Masala from the local shop.
There is something primal about cooking over a real fire in the wilderness, often quite simply a stove, a pan and your respective ingredients. The homage to ancestors of old is certainly not lost on me. First thought to be discovered over a million years ago, the conception of fire had a stark effect on early humans. The ability to create a source of light and heat was key to survival and also served as
protection from nocturnal predators. This new capacity to cook food vastly increased dietary variety and helped to prevent illness and disease by killing organisms that may be present in raw ingredients. The convenience of fire in modern living may have led us to lose touch with the basics of cooking in its truest form but there is still opportunity to re-enact these methods. Contemporary flavours and spices are far more abundant and honed now so the two worlds can collide with impressive taste. Here are five recipes to try out next time you are camping, nothing too outrageous but with a bit of preparation, a great alternative to the freeze dried food in a bag.
Classic BBQ fare. Mix it up with your favourite toppings and no plates required!
Advanced – Make your own burger mix with beef mince, finely diced onion, egg, breadcrumbs, wholegrain mustard and parsley. Shape into patties. Make a sauce of your choice; mustard mayo, burger sauce, sticky BBQ sauce (bottle it at home, or go full outdoor cook and do it hillside). Fry the burgers until cooked and serve in buns with onion, lettuce, tomato, gherkins, cheese and your homemade condiment.
Beginners – Buy burgers from the supermarket/local butchers (#shoplocal). Fry up and serve with whatever garnishes you like and pack a bottle of sauce of your preference.
2. Bacon and Eggs on Toast
Perfect to start the day after a night in the tent or perhaps a spot of brunch whilst at one with nature.
Advanced – Sautee some onions with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar and reduce for a delicious savoury jam to spread on your toast. Fry your bacon or cook it directly over the flame (watch for the fat dripping if you are using a stove though). Boil a pan of water then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Carefully crack your eggs into the water. Poach your Eggs for 2-4 minutes. Toast the bread directly over the open flame. Lather in onion jam, assemble Bacon and Eggs on top and season with Black Pepper. Garnish with Rocket.
Beginners – Fry the eggs and bacon in the same pan. Toast the bread at home and bring it ready. Pack a bottle of sauce.
3. Ratatouille (v) (ve)
Close your eyes and imagine you are in Provence soaking up the Mediterranean
climate with this dish (whilst soaking in the British rain).
Advanced – Finely slice two cloves of garlic and an onion, set aside. Fry cubed Aubergine in a pan until brown and remove. Repeat with Courgettes and Peppers. Sauté the onions and garlic until softened and then add passata. Season well and add Balsamic Vinegar (1 tblsp), sugar (1 tsp), juice of ½ lemon and fresh thyme. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, return the veg to the sauce for another 5 minutes. Tear fresh basil and stir through then serve with a rustic chunk of bread. Beginners – Slice and chop all your veg at home and roast the courgettes, aubergines and peppers in an oven at 180 degrees for 30 mins. When in the outdoors throw all the veg, garlic and onion in a pan and fry until onions are cooked. Add a jar of tomato and basil sauce and bring to a simmer. Serve.
4. Sausage and Mash
A classic that can be enjoyed as a hefty lunch or a fulfilling dinner after a day in the outdoors.
Advanced– Boil your spuds on location, sieve off and mash into a velvety blend with butter and white pepper. Fry your sausages til cooked through and set aside. Deglaze the frying pan, after cooking the sausages, with Red Wine and reduce to create a tasty jus to accompany the dish. Add fresh thyme to the Jus right at the end before plating.
Beginners– Make your mash at home and heat it through in a pan. Precook the sausages and heat through on your stove. Use gravy granules to knock up a quick sauce.
5. Steak and Ale Stew with Veg
Pub grub in the most public house of all, the outdoors!
Advanced – Sweat chopped onions, carrots and celery down until softened. Increase the heat and sear your diced steak (I use chuck steak), add 1 tblsp of plain flour and stir. Finely chop fresh Rosemary and Thyme and add to the pot with coarse black pepper. Add a bottle of ale and simmer for an hour (ideally 3 hours to really make the beef fall apart but this is the outdoors!) Set aside*. Bring some water to the boil and throw in your veg (green beans do the job) cook for 2-3 mins depending on preference. Serve.
Beginners – Add diced onions and diced steak (I use chuck) to the pan until onions are cooked and steak is seared. Add salt, pepper and dried rosemary & thyme. Pour in a bottle of ale and cook for an hour (ideally 3 hours to really make the beef fall apart but this is the outdoors!) Add gravy powder to mix until thick. Boil some water and add some veg of your choice or have without.
*If the stew is still a bit watery then add a mix of flour and water (even quantities) and simmer for another 5 minutes to remove the raw flour flavour. I hope these inspire you to try something different on your next camp. Just remember to respect the environment you are in and to leave no trace by taking all rubbish home with you. All dishes will work just as well at home so have a practice first if you aren’t feeling confident.
All dishes cooked on a wood burning Biolite stove by Harrison. For more recipes and outdoor activities check out @fellfoodie on Instagram.