You have a great kitchen in your RV but, sometimes, nothing beats a meal cooked over an open fire. That isn’t to say it is the same – outdoor cooking requires a different set of skills. If you are looking forward to returning to your caveman roots on your next camping adventure, here are some tips to make the experience safe and delicious.
- Build the perfect fire.
The perfect fire should be safe and it should the right heat for what you are cooking. If you don’t have a firepit, make sure there is a 3 meter/10 foot perimeter around the area where you plan to build the fire, clear of flammable debris. You also need to make sure that you have at least three times the height of the fire cleared overhead – branches or canopies/tarps, for instance, shouldn’t be closer than that to the fire.
After you have ensured the fire won’t easily spread, make sure to build a fire that will effectively cook a tasty meal. This involves patience. Don’t build your fire too big, too early. Big fires burn down quickly and are harder to maintain at a good cooking temperature. You should start with a good, small fire and slowly build it. Maintain the fire for about half an hour, until there are lots of hot coals, before you start cooking. You might also want to move the coals to one side and continue to stoke the other with fresh wood, so you have some different temperature intensities to cook with.
- Use the Right Equipment
You are working with high heat when you are dealing with fire, so stay away from plastic utensils that can easily melt, or rubber coated handles on pots. There are many items that are created specifically for outdoor cooking, and those are your best bet. Otherwise, stick to metal.
The equipment that you use will vary, depending on what you are cooking. The classic stick with a wittled end is perfect for marshmallows or hot dogs. However, if you want to cook a more sophisticated meal, you will probably need a grill. Cast iron pans and even Dutch ovens also work great for open fire cooking, and they don’t require any soap and water afterwards. A meat thermometer is another great thing to pack, as it ensures you don’t under or over cook your meat.
It’s important to be organized. Have everything at the ready so you don’t let things burn while you are rummaging for a pot holder in the RV.
- Cook the Right Foods
Cooking over a fire often makes us think we are limited to processed foods, but generally, you can cook much the same outside as you do inside. Experiment with stir fries or even elaborate dishes like paella. You don’t have to limit yourself to what you can burn and then coat in ketchup.
If you are cooking hot dogs, you probably don’t need a lot of help to get that right. But as a general rule, the less oil and grease involved in your outdoor cooking, the less problems you will have, both in terms of flare ups and in terms of messy clean up. Foods that can be cooked in a cast iron pan or Dutch oven (which gives the most even heat) are ideal, as are foods that lend well to a smoky flavour.
It’s important to consider that cooking at high temperatures means you should consider carryover cooking. Foods cooked over an open fire continue to cook longer than they would in your kitchen. You should remove them from the fire about 5-10 degrees before they are done and let foods rest until they reach the right level of “doneness”.
For most of us, cooking outside has become an adventure instead of a daily chore, so it’s important to keep the experience fun. With the right equipment and the right fire, you can make some delicious meals. We’d love to hear about your favourites!