Up Your Camp Cooking Game from Your Home Kitchen

Say goodbye to hot dogs. Not forever, just as a camping staple. Looking ahead to a future with camping buddies, right now is a great time to practice recipes to impress and eliminate your need for a tired old weenie on a bun.

Photo © Oleg Shakirov | Dreamstime.com

I used to drag a whole lot of ingredients into the Mojave Desert or Sierra Nevada Mountains and did all the prep and cooking on site. Now I do all the hard work at home where I cook simple, gourmet one-pot meals and freeze them in easy to pack containers. Then, at the campsite, 1) Dump dinner in pot on camp stove or campfire to reheat, 2) Kick back with refreshing beverage, and 3) Take in the sunset while dinner cooks itself. Plus, your frozen green chicken pozole, frozen shrimp gumbo, or frozen veggie pho can serve as an ice block to keep your food cooler items cold as you travel. Bonus—camping hack!

The recipe below makes a great freeze-and-reheat. This cooking approach has gone a long way toward freeing up a lovely evening in nature. Truth be told, I also started bringing burnable bamboo plates and flatware instead of my matching, enameled camp set. I’d prefer to take in the stars over washing dishes.

Photo © Marian Vejcik | Dreamstime.com

Here is just one of many camp recipes that can elevate and ease your camp style. (It tastes pretty good at home too!)

Beef Ragu over Pappardelle Pasta

4-6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large (or 2 medium) yellow onion(s), peeled and chopped fine
2 celery stalks chopped fine
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped fine
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked from stems
6 parsley sprigs, leaves only, chopped
1 bay leaf
12 oz. ground beef (85% lean)
3 oz. pancetta
½ cup dry red wine
2 1/2 cups beef, chicken or veg stock, divided
½ cup chopped tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup cream or crème fraiche
Pappardelle, tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta

1. Heat oil in large, heavy skilled over medium heat.

2. Stir in onion, carrot, celery and salt. Cook until very tender but not browned.

3. Add thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Add beef and pancetta. Sautee, breaking up beef with spoon until browned, about 15 minutes.

5. Add wine and boil for 1 minute, scraping up brown bits from pan.

6. Add 2 cups stock and ½ cup chopped tomatoes.

7. Reduce heat to very low and simmer about 1 ½ hours, until flavors meld.

8. Stir in cream or crème fraiche. Add stock if sauce is too thick.

Serve over pasta. Bon appétit!