September brings some cooler temperatures here in Michigan. Camp sites start to fill up earlier each weekend as the sun starts its inevitable decent into winter. The leaves have begun their change, trips up north are becoming more frequent and families enjoy the outdoors a little more sans the heat and all those nibbling insects.
With this being the case, campfires not only become a central gathering place, but also the means by which you cook. Some folks grill on those swinging tripods while others adopt the method of cooking right in the cans on the hot coals. Another choice is the good old fashioned Dutch oven.
These cast iron pots were used by chuck wagons along the cattle trails in the wild-wild west. They were originally cast in the Netherland in the early 1700’s. The English brought them to America and the rest is history. This unit is very versatile. You can put the lid on the top and cover with hot coals for a baking oven, hang from a hook over the fire for stewing or just set the oven right on the coals to sear meats.
Campfire Cowboy Stew
1 lb. ground Sirloin
1 Vidalia Onion
1 can Green Beans
1 can Baked Beans
1 can Black Beans
1 can Tomato Soup
1 can Corn
1 can diced Tomatoes
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Bay Leaf - optional
Salt and Pepper
- Cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes and dice the Onion.
- Preheat Dutch oven to 350° with all coals underneath.
- Brown the ground Sirloin and Onion, then add Potatoes and all cans, un-drained.
- Add spices to taste and stir every 5 minutes or so to keep from sticking to bottom.
- Cook 30-40 minutes or until Potatoes are tender.
Campfire Pork and Beans
This recipe calls for two Dutch Ovens. One for the beans to cook through and one for all the goodies that make the dish delicious. Definitely NOT to be considered as a side dish.
Dutch oven One:
3-4 lbs Pork Loin
2 cans Vegetable Broth (15-ounce)
2 peeled Carrots
2 stalks of Celery
Salt and Pepper
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 pound bag Great Northern Beans
Dutch oven Two:
1 large Vidalia onion
3 medium Potatoes
2 peeled Carrots
2 stalks of Celery
1 can Tomato Sauce (15-ounce)
2 cans Chicken Broth (15-ounce)
1 tablespoon Thyme
2 tablespoons Parsley
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Rinse beans, and put them into a large pot with 6 quarts of water. Soak for 6 to 8 hours. Drain and rinse again. Set aside until Dutch oven is ready.
- Put a quart of water in Dutch oven One for the beans. Place over campfire.
- Put 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in Dutch oven Two for browning the pork loin. Place over campfire.
- While the Dutch ovens are heating, dice the onion and cut other vegetables into large chunks.
- Salt and pepper pork loin on all sides. Place in Dutch oven Two and brown on each side for a minute or two. Sprinkle rosemary on top of loin. Add broth, carrots and celery. Place lid on Dutch oven and move some hot coals the bottom to the top. Cook like this for 3 hours, replacing burned out coals about every 30-40 minutes. Do not lift lid to check.
- Add the soaked and rinsed beans to Dutch oven One. Add the vegetables, chicken broth, tomato sauce, spices and stir. Place lid on Dutch oven, but leave all the hot coals underneath. Once the beans come to a good simmer, leave the lid off. Stir frequently and stoke the coals as needed.
- The pork and beans will be done after about 3 hours of cooking. Remove pork loin to a large platter for slicing or pulling. Scoop some beans into a bowl and add a hunk of pork to it.
Campfire Pork Chops and Potatoes
6 thick Pork Chops
7-8 Red Skin Potatoes, sliced thin
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
2 cans Cream Soup (Mushroom, potato, or even cream corn)
Bacon grease or cooking oil
- Cover the bottom of Dutch oven with Bacon grease or oil and heat in hot coals.
- Brown the Pork Chops in the oil and drain off excess oil.
- Place Pork Chops in a layer on bottom of Dutch oven and top with sliced Potatoes.
- Layer sliced Onion on top of the Potatoes.
- Now, ladle Cream Soup over the top of everything and Pepper to taste.
- Simmer for 20 minutes with all coals under the Dutch oven.
- Check after 20 minutes, then every 10 minutes until Potatoes are tender.
- Can sprinkle grated cheese on top too.
Campfire Apple Crisp
6 Large Apples
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Nutmeg
3¼ cup Quick Oats
1 cup Flour
2¼ cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Butter
¼ tsp Salt
- Slice apples and mix apple slices, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg in a large bowl.
- Mix Quick Oats, Flour, Brown Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, and Butter to make a crust.
- Press half of the crust mix into the bottom and up sides of the Dutch oven.
- Pour the apples mixture into the crust.
- Cover apples with the rest of the crust mix.
- Cover Dutch oven with lid.
- Place directly into hot coals and top with more hot coals
- Bake covered about 30-40 minutes until top crust is light brown and apples are tender.
Talk about a few perfect campfire recipes for the weekend! Why not head north up I-75 for a few hours to Mid-Michigan? Set up camp near the Au Sable River in any one of the many campgrounds, grab a canoe, the cooler and enjoy the great outdoors. Start a nice fire and enjoy great meals right there out of your cast iron Dutch oven.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib.