Easy Campsite Feeds

By: MICHAEL BORG , Photography by: MATT FEHLBERG AND MICHAEL BORG


Need to feed the whole tribe of desert touring 4WDers? These five campfire crowd pleasers are sure to hit the right spot.

When it comes to long range touring, feeding an entire group of hungry adventurers in the middle of the desert isn’t always easy. But, if you ask us, it’s well worth getting it right.

There are often a few challenges thrown in the mix, from restricted supplies to limited storage space. Then there’s the well-worn scenario when you arrive at camp hours later than you planned and the little munchkins are gearing up to chew your ear off. Limited water supplies means you don’t want to create too many dirty dishes to clean up, and if you’re cooking for a crowd of campers, getting too fancy can be a little hit and miss with the old tastebuds of some travelers.

With all that in mind, we’re going to lift the lid some seriously tasty yet conservative camp meals that you can knock together with common camping ingredients. Get it right, and I reckon the waft of campfire delights will win the hearts of fellow campers for many years to come.    

BEST BANGERS AND MASH- FROM SCRATCH

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WHAT YOU NEED

  • 8 thick beef sausages
  • 1kg potatoes
  • Milk and butter  
  • Salt and ground black pepper

SPECIAL "HOME-MADE" GRAVY 

  • 2 medium brown onions (use red for a sweeter flavor)
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 700ml beef stock
  • 4tsp corn flour
  • 4tsp cold water

HOW IT’S DONE

First up, get the diced potatoes boiling before melting the butter in a separate saucepan to start the home-made gravy. Add the thinly sliced onions into the butter and cook slowly for about 10-15 minutes. Then add in the sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook until it’s absorbed before adding the stock and gently boiling uncovered for another five minutes, or until you polish off a fresh beer.

In a separate bowl, combine the corn flour with the cold water and mix it down to a thin paste. Then add a little bit of the onion gravy mix fluid into the flour paste and stir it thoroughly before pouring the whole starch/flour mix into the onion mixture. Turn the heat up and boil it for a good 10 minutes or so or until it begins to thicken, and keep it nice and warm until it’s ready to be served. If you don’t have corn flour available, just use less beef stock and water, and simmer until it thickens up on its own.

Cook the sausages in the oven or on the BBQ, mash the potato with a bit of milk and butter, and serve it all up! Oh, and don’t forget the peas – just crack the can open and place them next to the fire to heat up for about 20 minutes beforehand.


 

CATTLEMAN’S STEAK AND ONION SUPPER

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WHAT YOU NEED

  • 4-6 fillets, porterhouse or rump steaks
  • 1-2 large brown onions
  • 1-2 red capsicum
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • Butter
  • 1-2 cans of beer
  • Worcestershire sauce  

HOW IT’S DONE 

This one is bloke-proof cooking at its finest. Start by slicing up the onion and capsicum and crushing the garlic up and set aside. Then mix half a can of beer with between 2-4 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and dip the steak in to cover before grilling over nice hot coals. Keep basting the steaks in the sauce as they cook.

While the steaks are on the go, get the veggies cooking in a frying pan with a bit of melted butter and a few more dashes of beer. It might sound simple, but these flavours go together like honey and bees, or campfires and bacon. What’s the best part? Well, there’s still a full can of beer left to sip on while you cook – winning! 


 

MIGHTY MEAT LOAF

MIGHTY

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup beef stock
  • 1.5tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 brown onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of parsley and thyme

SAUCE TOPPING – Option 1

  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • 4-5tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2tsp pepper

SAUCE TOPPING - Option 2

  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1tbsp apple cider
  • 1/4 cup of honey

HOW IT’S DONE 

Pre-heat the old camp oven in the coals and fry up some chopped onion and garlic until tender while you’re at it. When they’re done, set them aside and place a trivet in the camp oven before adding a little bit of water to the bottom (it’ll stop the meatloaf from drying out). Then in a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, lightly-beaten eggs, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce and let it all soak for a few minutes. Add the mince, breadcrumb mixture, onion, garlic and herbs together in a large bowl and gentlystir to combine. The trick to a super tender meatloaf is to not overdo it, and definitely don’t let the mince get mashed up. Form it into a loaf and place it in a lightly-oiled aluminum tray.

For the sauce, just add the ingredients together and give it all a good stir before smothering half the mixture over the meatloaf, and saving the other half to add on top when it’s all cooked. It’ll take between 45 minutes and an hour to cook in the camp oven, and about two minutes flat to go missing from your plate when you serve it up!


 

SCRUMPTIOUS STAMP POT

POT

WHAT YOU NEED

  • ½kg beef mince
  • 2-3tbsp gravy powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2tbsp mixed herbs
  • Peas and corn (small can)
  • 1 brown onion
  • Garlic cloves or powder
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 2kg potato
  • 2kg carrot
  • Milk
  • Butter

HOW IT’S DONE

This hearty camp meal will feed the whole tribe with nothing more than a good sized camp oven and cast iron skillet.   

To get started, dice the potatoes and carrots up and get them boiling in the camp oven. While they are cooking away, fry up some finely chopped onion and garlic for a few minutes before adding the beef mince in to brown up. Then add in a few tablespoons of gravy powder, mixed herbs, salt and pepper, and stir in tiny dashes of water so the gravy powder goes lumpy. You want enough water to cover the mince and a little more on top. Then bung in some peas and corn, and a good squirt of Worcestershire sauce and let it simmer for a good 20-30 minutes.

When the potato and carrots are nice and soft, drain the water out and let them sit for a few minutes to dry out before mashing them up with a touch of milk and butter until it’s a nice and smooth mash potato/carrot mixture. Then serve with the mince on top!


 

CHICKEN PAELLA FOR CHAMPIONS

CHICKEN

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 400g chicken breast
  • Olive oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 400g diced tomatoes
  • 375ml chicken stock

SECRET INGREDIENTS

  • Red wine vinegar
  • Chili flakes
  • Worcestershire sauce

HOW IT’S DONE

In a nice hot cast iron skillet or wok, cook chopped chorizo in olive oil for a minute or two and put to the side. Then brown the chicken fillet for a couple of minutes each side and set aside as well. Then combine the onion, capsicum and garlic and cook for a good five minutes until it goes nice and soft and smells bloody awesome. The next step is to add in the smoked paprika and rice and stir it around for a minute or so before adding the tomatoes and chicken stock, and bringing it to a slow simmer boil. Give it a good dash of red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, along with a pinch of chili. Cover and let it all simmer for a good 25 minutes or so, stirring regularly and adding more water or chicken stock as required. Then, tell everyone you learned the recipe off a million-star chef and watch them smile in agreement!  


 

COOKING FOR CROWDS

There’s a bit of an art to cooking for large groups. Sure, you can whack a roast in the camp oven and you won’t hear any complaints, same goes for a few sausages or steaks on the hot plate. But believe it or not, those old classics can get a bit old during longer expeditions. So let’s run through a few little tips and tricks around choosing the perfect camp meal, shall we?

First up, try and stick to your one-pot wonders. You know, the ones that only really require one large pot such as stews, roasts and pies. Secondly, make sure you’re not always relying on a campfire to cook on. There’s no point having a 3kg leg of lamb to cook if you’ve only got a few green twigs left mid-way through your journey. Thirdly, look for camp meals that include plenty of hardy vegetables. They’re cheap and usually easy to source on the road, they don’t need to be frozen like meat and they really fill you up, too.

Bush_Cooking_Borgy


 

TUCKER FOR TOUGH TRACKS

Some foods travel better than others. The problem lies in the ability for harsh corrugations to break everything down to bloody confetti if you’re not careful. For that reason, it pays to plan on packing hardier ingredients with some prior thought as to when and how it will be used. Storage options and individual food requirements should also be considered while you’re at it.

So what do you need to know? Well, let’s compare a few ingredients. Pasta and grains such as rice will last ages, don’t need to be refrigerated and can be used to make a million different types of meals, so they’re a handy thing to have on board. Whereas something like a tub of yogurt wouldn’t last as long, needs to be kept cool, isn’t as versatile and will probably end up lining the inside of your fridge a few kilometers down the track. Get where we’re going with this?

While we’re singling out foods, any liquids in a cardboard container will probably call it quits (poppas, liquid stock etc). Glass jars are usually heavy and fragile too, so look for packet mixes as replacements. A few tins of vegetables can go a long way when you’re trying to spruce up a plain old meal, and they’re bloody good to have as back-up if you end up crossing a border and having to ditch your fresh produce.   


 

YOUR TURN TO TASTE

feastWell, if that didn’t get your belly rumbling like a 1950s steam train, nothing will. At the end of the day a tasty campfire feed is a big part of exploring the world with a camper trailer in tow. It brings groups of people together, and creates memories that can last a lifetime. Heck, I can still remember the smell of slow cooked lamb shanks wafting through camp from nearly 20 years ago! So for your next trip, put a little thought into the meal side of things, and remember it’s not all about having the most expensive cut of meat on the menu. It’s about satisfying the crowd and scoring a few camp-chef bragging rights along the way, eh?

This recipe feature and much more appeared in Camper Trailer Australia #128Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!