This is a guest post by Max from the website CampingandHikingIdeas.com, a fabulous resource for all things related to both camping and hiking along trails. We appreciate her expert advice on this topic.
As an avid camper I have had some darn fine camp food in my time. I have also had some food cooked so horrendously that the only thing it fed was the fire.
Most people, when they camp, take along a camp stove and then rely on sticks and hotdogs to get them through the trip. Canned beans are popular, if they remember to bring the can opener, which five times out of ten they forget. Some ambitious individuals bring steak and proceed to char it to death, leaving nearly raw areas because they don’t know just how variable a fire can be.
So what do you do? The food has to be tasty—what is the use of a camping trip if you don’t enjoy yourself? Where’s the pleasure in remembering every trip as “the food was horrible, but we had fun!”?
You need the Grill Master’s secret weapon while camping—charcoal.
That’s right—charcoal. Take a bag of charcoal briquettes with you.
This is your emergency back-up master plan for cooking. Experiment all you want, but when you need the food to be good, and you need the cooking to work, charcoal briquettes is the way to go.
In the Philippines it’s a common practice to take one of those tinfoil turkey roasters that you can buy at the grocery store this time of year and fill that with charcoal briquettes, light them and throw a cheap little grill over it. Works really well, too—my brother and his wife visit the Philippines regularly to spend time with her family. Bbq is big there, especially on the beaches.
But back to camping.
There are many who will tell you, and I am one of them, that charcoal is the Rolls Royce of camp cooking. A campfire is difficult to regulate heat with. There are so many factors to consider—type of fuel you are using, the time of year, the weather—all these affect the temperature, and therefore the cooking outcome—of whatever it is you want to grill.
Charcoal helps because it regulates the heat. We’ve used it for spit-roasting and pit-cooking, and have thrown it to the side of a campfire and stuck a grill overtop (camping hint: get the oven rack from an old oven for a grill—they’re far sturdier than the camping grills most stores offer and are often free because the stove is being discarded) for steaks and hamburgers.
So keep your menus simple while camping, but take along a couple of bags of charcoal for one or two meals where you really need to trust the heat you’re cooking over. I guarantee you—those meals will be the memory-makers!
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