Apr 25 2010

Keep It Short & Simple

Stacks Image 989
Camp cooking is an outdoor activity that should always begin with a KISS – Keep It Short & Simple.

Take every opportunity to limit your campfire or outdoor grill cooking time by mixing ingredients ahead of time, streamlining steps and having everything at the ready before you step up to the fire.

Properly seasoned cast-iron (instructions come with every piece you buy) is the time-tested and preferred cookware. After using cast-iron, clean the pieces with hot water and just a little soap – always use a plastic or wooden scraper if any food sticks. Wipe the cleaned cookware with a thin film of lard or good olive oil to maintain the pieces in proper cooking order.

If you are cooking over wood, the most popular fuel is mesquite. The seasoned hardwood produces a hot fire, so watch your cooking temperature. Add a bit of green wood to add a smoky flavor to your dishes.

A good method of judging temperature is to hold your hand over the cooking coals until the heat becomes uncomfortable. If you remove your hand after a count of 3 to 5, your heat level is high; medium heat is a count of 6 to 8; and low is a count of 10 to 12.
When determining a baking temperature with a Dutch oven, a good formula is that if you have 10 hot coals under the oven and about five on the lid, you will have a cooking heat of about 350 degrees.

Easy Wild Game Recipe

Variety is the spice of life and also provides a tasty option when successful hunters want to put their annual harvest to good use. The following recipe calls for three different kinds of meat that combine into an easy dining treat. If the hunting year has not been so successful for the sportsman or sportswoman in your family, feel free to substitute beef or domestic pork for the venison and feral hog. The dove breasts are optional.

HogVenDove Quisada
  • 1 pound venison round steak, cubed
  • 1 pound boneless feral hog meat, cubed
  • 15 dove breasts, deboned and cut in half
  • Chef Ralph's Super Seasoning
  • 1 cup seasoned flour
  • 9 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 cup picante sauce or salsa
  • 1 cup prepared onion dip
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) beef broth
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed

Season cubed meat (cut into about 1/2-inch pieces) and dove breasts with Chef Ralph's or your own combination of salts and peppers. Place seasoned pieces of each meat in a separate resealable plastic bag. Add 1/3 cup seasoned flour (Chef Ralph's or your own seasoning) to each bag and shake well to coat meat. Heat three tablespoons of bacon grease or olive oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Brown floured and seasoned venison cubes on all sides and set aside on a warm platter. Repeat with feral hog meat and dove breasts, adding grease or oil as needed. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining ingredients, except cream cheese, to skillet. Simmer, stirring often, for about five minutes. Return all meats to the mixture in the skillet, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer about 10-15 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until well blended. Cover and simmer another five minutes. Serve in warm flour tortillas or over cooked rice or mashed potatoes.

A collection of recipes like the one above are available in two cookbooks created by Outdoor Writer and Campfire Chef Ralph Winingham that feature a special selection of stories, recipes, cooking advice and outdoor tales. About 100 stories and recipes are available in both "The Campfire Chef: Old Boots and Bacon Grease" that was published in 2002 and "Revenge of Old Boots and Bacon Grease" that was released in 2005. "Revenge" was selected as the Texas Outdoor Writers Association Book of the Year in 2006.

The cookbooks are available for $14.95 each, plus tax, shipping and handling (a total of $18.95 per book). Order information may be obtained by calling (210) 240-6149 or by email at rwiningham@att.net. No credit cards accepted. Cash and checks only.

Now, let's get cooking!