I grew up camping with my family. My dad thought there was nothing better to life than dragging his whole family on two-week camping trips into the middle of nowhere. We would sometimes hike in for days without ever coming out of the woods along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mts. or the Smokey Mts. in NC, where I grew up. We didn’t do those cool family trips to Disney World or national sites around the country. In fact, I still have to go to Disney World and all the theme parks.
But anyway, I have to say I used to hate those trips and now while I still like camping, I prefer the sites with at least a restroom close by, instead of finding a spot behind a bush. And I don’t miss out on the junk food, sandwiches and loads of hot dogs that we ate. My dad thinks a hotdog is the equivalent of a steak for camping trips. The man just looks at a campfire and starts thinking of roasting hotdogs.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like a campfire roasted hotdog and of course smores, but I prefer to only eat them one night of the trip, not the entire trip. And I get tired of cold food! I have learned to cook some close to gourmet meals over a campfire by being prepared ahead of time. I can even cook a mean pancake loaded with blueberries! A few of the pictures included here are from our last camping trip and a visitor we had that ate our crumbs (no we didn’t feed him intentionally).
Part of the ability to cook other things is to plan and prep the food ahead of time. Blanching works well here, like with the Sausage Hobo Dinner that I’m sharing with you today. I blanched the potatoes and carrots to the point of being slightly al dente and braised the sausage. Then wrapped it all up in foil with some seasonings, olive oil, onions, peas and leeks. I’ll have to update with cooked pictures after we get back from our trip!
The last trick to getting the prepped food to the camping without worrying about it going bad is to freeze it. The blanching helps to make everything come back nicely and the you can let it slowly unthaw during the day, so that when its time to cook in the evening, it has unthawed and is ready to toss into the fire.
Always remember to use a heavy-duty foil or double it up if you are using regular, so that it holds up to the heat from the coals. And use the veggies and meat that you love. I try to use ones that are more forgiving from being frozen and that will cook together at about the same time, so that things are not overcooked. Also, don’t forget plenty of seasonings and flavors. Hobo dinners are easy to make and will have you eating out in style on your camping trip. You can also throw the packets on the grill or into the oven if you want the flavors without the camping trip.
Sausage Hobo Dinner
1 lb. chicken sausage, braised (I used the fresh Spicy Parmesan from our Sprouts market), sliced
5 medium-sized yellow, white or red potatoes, cut into large cubes (don’t use russet style)
4 large carrots, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup leeks, sliced and cleaned
1 small red onion, cut into wedges
6 cloves roasted garlic (use less if using raw), chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
Olive oil to coat
Salt and pepper to taste
Red Pepper Flakes to taste
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. Cantanzaro herbs or Italian Seasoning
Blanch the chopped potatoes in boiling water for 4.5 minutes and remove to a strainer and rinse in cold water. Blanch the carrots for 3 minutes before draining and rinsing in cold water. Lay out the veggies to dry.
Once veggies are dry mix all the ingredients into a large bowl, tossing well to coat with the olive oil and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Tear heavy-duty foil into large packet size pieces and divide the mix into serving sizes among the foil pieces. Roll the edges of the foil together to create sealed packets.
For cooking: you can either cook on a grate over the fire or toss the packets directly into the hot coals of the campfire. If unthawed, cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a checked packet tests done. If frozen cooking time will take longer. If grilling, place over medium hot heat and can also be cooked in the oven at 425° F. To check for doneness, slowly and carefully unroll the edges of a packet and use a fork to see if veggies are soft and beginning to brown.
Be very careful when opening the packets because they will have built up steam and are very hot. Use tongs to remove from fire. Open and eat directly out of packet or dump on a plate.
More Camping Food Recipes and Tips for Handling Food on Camping Trips: