… or in the campfire. You can do it both ways. The keys to perfectly cooked veggies are timing and coverage.
Regarding timing, depending upon what else you are cooking, such as a meat, you’ll need to put some veggies on (or in, more on that later) the fire much sooner than your steak, chicken, fish, bison or whatever meat you’re planning on for your family’s meal.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Corn on the Cob
- Yellow squash
- Corn (off the cob)
You’re not going to be able to simply toss something like baby carrots into foil with fish and expect them to cook. The fish will be done long before the carrots even think about cooking. Because of this, separating your meat and veggies when cooking over or on a campfire is generally a good idea.
Since foil retains moisture and moisture steam-cooks your veggies, it will be your friend while campfire cooking. While you can place asparagus and the like right on a grate over the campfire keeping them from falling into the fire is another story.
Use two pieces of foil to double wrap each pouch of veggies.
You don’t need to wait until the last second to slice up your veggies and get them campfire ready. Chop, slice, dice, or julienne your veggies before you leave for your trip. You can even take it a step further and create your nicely seasoned foil pouches, refrigerate them and then take them out an hour before you plan on cooking them to get your veggies at room temperature so they cook more uniformly.
THE BED OF COALS METHOD
For this method, you’ll first need to have a fire that burns long enough to create a good bed of coals/embers. These are the best conditions to cook in period. This way the fire is more subdued and heat is more consistent. Stir up the coals to even out the heat, put veggies in foil and place them right on the coals. Do not bury the pouches for two reasons, first your metal tent of veggies will get super hot and untouchable and then, if it’s dark out, you may never find the pouch until the next morning…unless a critter finds your food first. This pouch method is fantastic for carrots and sliced potatoes.
Carrots are not tricky, but they take far longer than you’d think to cook well. Depending upon what you like in a cooked carrot (some do like to see the delicious orange turn a little brown on the edges), unsliced baby carrots easily take just as long as potatoes to cook. Most recommend cutting even baby carrots into diagonal slices or halves.
Carrots are more flavorful than potatoes, so some care must be taken when selecting herbs and seasonings to complement their flavor. Salt, pepper and a little bit of oil generally do the trick, but you can add more exotic spices such as cumin, paprika or rosemary depending what the carrots are accompanying.
Yes, you can bake a potato in a campfire, but how much time do you have? Potatoes will take upwards of 90 minutes to properly bake. You want to go ahead and do it this way anyway? In that case, prick your tater all over with a fork. Oil and salt it. Wrap it up in a good sheet of foil. Make it a tight wrap. Rest it on the embers or close to them on a rack. Your potato is baked when a knife easily sticks into it and slides out.
If time is an issue, slice and dice your potatoes. You can cube or slice them up—the smaller or thinner they’re cut, the faster they will cook. Wash them after cutting, put them in your double-foil pouch with your favorite seasonings like garlic salt, onion powder, fresh onion slices, and a dash of cooking oil or oil-based salad dressing such as Italian to help prevent sticking (and add flavor).
You can cook them with butter, however, be aware that butter burns quickly which will cause your taters to stick to the foil like a tongue to a frozen pole. Barbecue is fun too, but barbecue sauce contains sugar and sugar will burn and stick as well. If you love your taters ‘cued, carefully open it up toward the end of the cooking cycle and mix the barbecue sauce in at that time.
Assuming you cut thin slices and small cubes a half-inch or less, you’re looking at a cooking time of about 30 minutes in a foil pouch when placed right on the hot embers.