How To Cook Over an Open Fire
Yes, I know for some people reading this, it’s going to sound completely strange to cook anything over a fire. Remember though, it was done for centuries before modern day stoves were invented and thousands of campers do it each year. While you may never need this particular skill, it’s always good to know.
Campfire Cooking Supplies
I truly believe the best cookware for outdoor use is cast iron. It’s durable. A good cast iron cookware set that is kept in good condition will still be usable by your great great grandchildren. It’s also the original non stick cook ware. A properly seasoned piece of cast iron will not stick to anything. I recommend that you start with a cast iron skillet and a cast iron dutch oven at the bare minimum. You can pick them up on Amazon fairly cheap a lot of the time but be sure to check your local stores to see what their prices are.
How to Build A Fire
Now that we have our cookware, we need a fire, right? Right. So we need wood. Fallen dry branches work very, very well. If you use firewood for winter, don’t touch it…that will be used to keep you warm. However if you have charcoal for the grill it will be very useful, to get your fuel for the fire ready in your chosen spot. I recommend your fire place if you have one, as long as it isn’t a gas fire place. Do not use the oven or the stove for this. You really don’t want your cooking fire to burn down your home.
How to build a campfire:
First you’re going to need to find a place to build your fire. You can use your grill, a fire pit or just a makeshift ring that you’ve made. Just be sure that the spot you pick is clear of any debris or other material that can catch fire. No one wants a burned out home or tent. Take a few cotton balls and cover them with Vaseoline (Petroleum Jelly). Place the jelly covered cotton balls in the center of where you want your fire and light it up with the match. Ideally you’ll want to use strike anywhere matches. They really do strike anywhere so they’re good to carry in your emergency bags. Slowly add small pieces of tinder (very tiny sticks), leaves, or small, loosely wadded pieces of newspaper into the flames. Be careful not to smother your flame.
Once you’ve gotten a small flame going, you can begin to add larger pieces of wood to the pile to get it really burning. Now please understand you don’t need a bonfire to cook and depending on what you are cooking you usually don’t need flames, just hot coals. So let your flames die out quite a bit or all of the way before you start cooking. Otherwise you’ll be campfire cooking cajun style and well, that kinda cajun ain’t no kinda cajun that I want.
Using a skillet over an open flame is pretty much the same as cooking over your stove at home with one exception. You will need to keep a closer eye on what you’re cooking. Even if you’re used to cooking with a gas stove at home, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on it. The heat distrubution is different when cooking on an open flame or hot coals like you do with a campfire. With a Dutch Oven, (no, not the one where you pull the covers over the head of who ever is in bed with you and then…..well…..you know) you place your food in the Dutch Oven (most of the time you can mix it right in the pot), place it in the fire, and place hot coals on the lid. Placing hot coals on the lid allows it to heat not only from the bottom, but from the top as well so you get equal amounts of cooking and don’t end up with a partially cooked chicken.
If you’re going to be using the lid on your dutch oven, you should really invest in a cast iron lid lifter. Yes, they do make such a thing and yes they are VERY useful. Check on whatever you have in your dutch oven every 5-10 minutes. You don’t have to use your lid. You can use your dutch oven for making simple things like spaghetti. You can even bake in it! It’s great for making homemade biscuits!
Personally, I recommend that once you’ve got yourself set up? ,Go get some practice using them! Summer is in full swing so get outside, take the kiddo’s camping use it as a good way to justify cooking in the great outdoors if needed. Besides, it will shock the kids and they will think you are even more impressive. ;)