Everybody loves a good campfire meal, and this one’s easy enough that you can take it camping, hiking, on a day trip, a picnic, or basically any other outdoors excursion. The easy part of this is that you pre-cook the hard part, and then flash cook the rest of it.
This is a fine time for me to complain a little bit about all those ridiculous recipes for foil-packet cooking. Sure, they’re awesome…if you start your campfire early and leave the packet in the coals for a few hours, and if you don’t mind all the food on the bottom being charred while the food towards the top is still barely room temperature. Throw in the fun of eating while holding something that’s going to leave soot all over your hands, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Instead, the trick to this recipe (and all foil-packet recipes, if you’re just determined to do it that way) is to precook the things that won’t get soft over a campfire. What am I talking about? Take a look.
STEAK ROLL UPS
These are just your basic cube steaks, marinated in either a liquid enhancer or a dry rub. In the middle, or the roll-up part, are some pre-cooked veggies. The whole thing is tied up with strips of green onion, but that’s only because I happened to have some on hand. Toothpicks would have worked just as well.
Lay out your cube steaks on a cutting board at home. I like to beat mine up a little bit with the rim of a coffee mug, just to make sure they behave.
Meanwhile, in a skillet on the stove top, saute some veggie strips. I happened to use squash and banana peppers in these rolls, but again, that’s because I had those handy in the garden.
Once the veggies are soft and a little bit charred, lay a few pieces of each on the edge of a steak, the roll it up. I tied mine with softened strips of green onion, as you can see.
The best part is you can easily make everyone’s day by mixing up the veggies. These trips are about family fun, aren’t they? Then it can’t be that fun if your kids are told, “Tough luck, I used zucchini.” If you know you have some particular food tastes, there’s no reason you can’t throw all the different veggies in that skillet to saute then make each person one or two steak rolls with just his favorites in it. Just separate them in the storage compartments so you can dish them out to the right family members at cook time.
NOW… you have to transport them. I love these Stanley containers (yes, the people who make the thermoses) because they’re going to hold up, and then they nest when you’re done. They’re easy to wash, and then they stack right inside each other for easy transport back home. That’s important if you’re just out on a hike and don’t want to carry a lot. If you have a food allergy in your family, you can even separate out the allergic kid’s food in one container and then pack it inside the largest container alongside your other family members’ foods. You can also place these containers next to a freezable ice pack to keep the meat cold while you move.
Once you get to your destination, you’ve got to cook them. Whatever heat source you’re using–campfire, portable stove, portable grill, whatever–you can cook these either directly over the flame on a stick or by settling them in a mess kit skillet and turning them once. If you’ll be using the skillet method, you can even rub the outside with margarine or spray them with cooking spray before placing them in the storage container, eliminating the need to grease your skillet.
These carrots are so easy, they’re not to be believed. Why is that? There’s a secret to softening them before you cook them… salt! Since you were probably going to salt these before serving anyway, why not put the salt on them before they’re cooked? As you hike/travel/etc., they’ll soften naturally as the salt breaks down the cell walls inside the flesh and lets the water leak out. By the time you’re ready to cook them, they’ll be mildly al dente. Just throw them in your skillet (you can even cook them at the same time as the Steak Roll-Ups, if you want) and serve! Mine have dill on them because it gives them a nice pickle-y flavor and yes, because we had some in the garden.