To Stew or not to Stew
When the weather is colder and everyone needs a comforting pick-me-up, a hearty stew is one of the best go-to camping meals.
There’s nothing more soothing than eating a warm, steaming stew on your lap around the campfire. As it is a one pot meal, there’s also a lot less washing up which is always a plus. Stews are also a super easy meal to cook on top of the campfire, perfect for those who’d like to try out campfire cooking for the first time. Cooking stews usually follow a super simple recipe, the only thing that might be a bit more time consuming is the chopping- but you can just get the kids to help out with that!
Basic stew recipe
Stews are also a great way to use up any veggies you need to get through, especially at the end of your camping trip when you have a glut of random left-over vegetables. This blog will go over some specific stew recipes, but they are also really easy to improvise so you can add or omit any veggies depending on what you have. The same can be said for spices- just remember to taste test frequently to see if anything needs adjusting. Be sure to check out Macaroni Cheese or Vegetable Stew – so many decisions for a template stew recipe which you can adjust depending on what veggies you need to get through. This blog will give you a basic vegetable stew recipe, as well as how you can adjust it to make a spiced stew- it really just depends on how much your family likes heat.
Cooking a stew over the campfire
To cook over a campfire, you want to let the fire burn down to glowing embers, as these are still hot, but will be a more reliable and constant source of heat than flames. Don’t get impatient and try to cook on bare flames as they’ll only burn your food and blacken pots and pans. You want to burn hardwood like oak, ash and birch rather than greenwood. Your best option is to just buy a bag of wood form your campsite or the nearest garage. Then once the fire has burnt down to the embers, prop a metal grill or grate on top of the fire, making sure that it is sturdy. You can use a cast iron pot, or even a Dutch oven to cook stews over the campfire. Just place your pot on top of the embers and you’re ready to get started!
Courgettes are exactly the kind of veggie that can remain uneaten throughout your camping trip, so this is the perfect way to use them up by creating a delicious hearty stew. This recipe serves four, so feel free to size up or size down depending on how many people you’re cooking for.
Start by heating some olive oil in your pan, then add one finely chopped onion and cook for around 10 minutes, until they soften and start to turn brown at the edges.
Add 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook for around 5 more minutes.
Then quarter three courgettes lengthways and cut them into chunks and add these to the pot.
Cook the courgettes in the pot until they start to soften and then pour in two cans of chopped tomatoes.
Stir everything and allow the stew to reach a simmer, then add seasonings to your taste.
Cook for around 35 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the courgettes are soft.
Finally add a small bunch of chopped basil and grate in some parmesan, serve with another grating of parmesan.
This stew recipe can be served with baked potatoes, couscous or some toasted bread.
Although it is a super simple recipe, this means you can add any extra ingredients you feel like.
For example, some chopped mushrooms work especially well in this recipe- just add them after you pour in the tins of chopped tomatoes.
Butterbean and kale stew
To make this stew, heat one tbsp olive oil in your pan over the campfire. Then add one finely chopped white onion and a thinly sliced stalk of celery. Cook these until they turn translucent, it should take around 10 minutes but really just depends how hot your campfire is.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, ¼ tsp red chilli flakes, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp smoked paprika and 1 tsp ground cumin and cook for a few minutes until the spices release their aroma.
Then add two large, sliced carrots and 2 sweet potatoes cut into medium sized cubes to the pot. Stir well so that they become coated in the spices.
Then add two tins of chopped tomatoes, adding some water to the cans to capture any of the extra juice and adding this liquid to the pot too. Also add 100ml vegetable stock, 2 bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme (if you don’t have any then you can just use dried herbs), 1 tbsp maple syrup, salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for around 15/20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked- be careful not to burn yourself when checking them!
Then finally add 2 cans butterbeans (or any other beans you have) and stir then add around 100g roughly chopped kale or cavolo nero with the woody stems chopped off.
Then leave to simmer for around 5 minutes.
Taste test and then add a squeeze of lemon juice to the stew.
Remove the thyme and bay leaves (if you can be bothered) and serve with some chopped parsley.
You can serve this meal with some crusty, buttered bread, and enjoy!
I hope that this blog has given you the courage to give cooking on your campfire a go- it doesn’t need to be daunting! I would say that cooking a stew on the campfire is a good way to start, as there isn’t that much that could go wrong. If you’re improvising parts of the recipe, just remember to taste test as you go along to make sure the seasonings are to your liking, and that the veggies are cooked through.
If you’d like to try out some more cooking in a Dutch oven over the campfire then you could try a Dutch Oven Pizza or a Dutch Oven Enchiladas.
Here’s me signing out and thank you so much for reading.