Monday, September 28, 2009

Campfire Beef Stew

I've cooked a lot of meals while camping, mostly using my trusty green Coleman campstove that has 15- yr. old blueberry pancake batter still clinging to it. The grate over the fire is an easy way to sear steaks and veggies and anything you like to grill, yet even that becomes quite the mess to clean up. The best method requires the simplest cleanup, which is foil packets placed directly on hot coals.

One of my most memorable meals was during a spring break in college, camping with some buddies in the Appalachians. We were fortunate enough to hook some rainbow trout out of the very stream which kept our beers cold. You've never used skate laces to tether a few thirty-packs of Busch Light together? That's way better than spring break at Myrtle Beach or Panama City or wherever the else the Chads and Trixies like to flock. Anyway, back to the trout. Once cleaned up, they were double-wrapped in foil with just butter. No garlic, no lemon, no seasonings, we had nothing but butter. And that was the best damn trout I've had, and will most likely not be topped. I do think one of man's most important accomplishments is our position at the top of the food chain. As long as you make sure the entrails and other discarded parts are far away from your campsite, that is. Otherwise those bears will move you down the chain a little.

Campfire Beef Stew

2-3 servings
1-1.5 lbs chuck stew beef, cubed into 1" pieces
2 small red potato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom + 1 can water
1/2 can Campbell's Cream of Celery + 1/2 can water
Parsley, rosemary springs
Herbes de Provence, pinch or two

Lay out about a foot piece of heavy duty foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Place the meat and veggies on the foil, then the soups and then herbs and seasoning. Fold the ends and sides of the foil to seal. Tear off another piece and wrap again, seam placed down. Seal the ends tightly, however make sure there is some room in the foil for steam. Keep cold until ready to eat, make sure to place in a plastic bag if throwing in the cooler.

Once you have some white-hot coals glowing, move some over to the side of the campfire and spread out in an even layer. Place each packet on coals for about 12 minutes, then turn for another 10-12 minutes. Open carefully, then dump into a serving bowl and if you'd like, as we do, top with shredded cheddar. Reach into the cooler, grab yourself a nice cold Miller High Life, and enjoy being outside of four walls and a roof.

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