I’ve eaten a lot of great meals in the field–from my dad’s fried-egg sandwiches to breakfast burritos the size of my forearm–but it’s hard to top the prime rib I had marsh-side after a morning of gunning for ducks on the Great Salt Lake back in November. The memorable meal was cooked up by Camp Chef field chef Matt Anderson. Coming in a close second were the chili cheeseburgers Anderson’s co-worker Steve McGrath fired up from the deck of an airboat the day before.
In fact, it seems like anytime I’m around these two guys I end up eating pretty well, so I turned to them to dish out a few tips for cooking in the field. They were also cool enough to throw in some prizes for a contest–but more on that in a bit. First, the tips:
Organization: Much like your hunting gear and decoys, you better have things in order. It’s tough to try and juggle multiple jobs while in the field, so why make it harder by not having things put together nicely? Have a separate tote or container for cooking, cleaning, and food items. Knowing where things are at can make the difference in seeing the animal and taking a shot, or watching tail feathers fly by. Preparation: Know about the weather you may encounter, the area you are hunting, and, of course, how many hungry mouths you will need to feed. The more planning and preparation that is done before the trip, the better it will make the entire hunt. Depending on the trip, we will spend more time thinking and preparing the food, than the actual hunt itself. We have eaten lobster breakfast burritos this fall in the blind–all pre-cooked the night before. A simple re-heat in tin foil the next morning in the blind and we were eating well!
Keep It Simple: A good meal doesn’t have to be complicated. Any warm food in the outdoors seems to taste better, so with a little thought and creativity your next field meal could make the trip! With that in mind, try to avoid recipes that are very time or temperature sensitive. You are out there to hunt, the eating is a bonus! Cast iron is a great item to use in the field; it will hold the heat while you tend to the hunting side of the day.
But The Sky’s The Limit: Sure grill cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are sometimes all that is needed, but have you ever had prime rib while out on the marsh? It’s not as complicated as you would think. And no need to reinvent the wheel. There are some great recipes and ideas out there for cooking while outdoors. It helps to test the recipes while in the controlled environs of home. Practice makes perfect.
Keep It Clean: Keep the cooking area and utensils clean. It is just a sound food safety practice and also makes for a more appetizing experience as well. For the field, water can sometimes be tough to come by so bring some along. Anti-bacterial wipes are a field cook’s best friend.
Always Have Fire: A source of flame is one of the basic items to always have while outdoors, so you shouldn’t forget it. Sure, a lot of the modern cooking appliances have igniters built in but just like anything else, they can fail. Long-nose butane lighters are always in our cooking bags.
Remember, you can’t control the weather, the animals, or even your hunting partners–but it’s your fault if the food is terrible.
Now, about that contest…
List your best in-the-field cooking tip below and I’ll choose a winner, who will receive a Camp Chef Portable Outdoor Oven. Two other names drawn at random will also receive Camp Chef prize package that will include a cast-iron skillet, as well as a host of other cooking accessories. All entries must be in by 6 p.m. MST on Sunday, Jan.13, 2013.