Does the warm weather make you averse to turning on the oven? Then why not cook outdoors? Get tips and family recipes from an outdoorsman, survival expert, and seasoned outdoor cook.
Ahhhh! Warmer weather is here and cooking outside seems to make food taste better!
Here are a few ideas about what, and how, to prepare some of those tasty treats that are so luscious.
Requirements for Outdoor Cooking
You do not have to be a master chef to prepare mouth-watering meals on the grill, griddle, or with cast iron Dutch ovens.
Food just seems to taste better when it is cooked outside. It is even better if the weather permits eating outside.
Some of my best memories involve smelling food cooking outside.
When I was a youngster, my late dad and I would often fish together.
Rounding a point on the lake and smelling a camper cooking bacon over a camp stove was so tantalizing. Coffee and bacon have a special effect on the olfactory organs!
Although you don't have to be the world's best cook, a few tips will go a long way in avoiding major failures.
Wild Game Meals
One of my favorite outdoor game treats is Jalapeno Poppers.
As a deer hunter, my favorite is to use venison loin or tenderloin. Beef will also work, but as a hunter, the use of venison is a special treat.
The items required for this recipe are:
- Venison loin, tenderloin, or beef for non-hunters
- Thick sliced bacon (everything is better with bacon)
- Jalapeno peppers
Preparation is simple.
- Cut bacon strips into pieces of 3” to 3 ½”. C
- Cut meat into strips approximately the same width and length as the bacon and approximately 3/16” thick.
- Use Jalapeno strips with the seeds removed. These may be purchased pre-sliced or you can use whole peppers to prepare the strips. I rinse the strips to remove some of the super-hot juices.
- Lay the bacon down, then lay on a strip of the meat, and next lay the Jalapeno slice on top.
- Roll up tightly and secure with wooden toothpicks.
I like to prepare these the night before and marinate them overnight in Dale’s Steak Sauce®. You can also use soy sauce or any favorite marinade.
Cook the next day on a hot charcoal or gas grill until the bacon is crisp. The meat will be flavored by the peppers and marinade and will become a favorite for you and your guests.
Get more tips on preparing wild game in: 5 Cooking Tips for Wild Game.
We have a Blackstone® griddle and here are a couple of our griddle favorites.
My wife, Margaret, has a great recipe for pancakes and of course, bacon is a good companion for them.
Here is a list of ingredients for Margaret's Pancakes:
- 2 eggs (beat until fluffy)
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ¾ cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Margaret makes homemade vanilla extract with vodka and vanilla beans- takes several months)
- Beat until smooth
- Preheat the griddle and on one end add desired amount of thick sliced bacon.
- Use a bacon press to assure a crisp, straight finished product.
- When the bacon is almost done, pour pancake batter onto the griddle for the desired number of pancakes.
- Wait until a large number of bubbles appear on the pancakes before turning.
Bacon, pancakes, hot coffee and maple syrup are a treat that can’t be beat.
An alternate is Cool Whip® and strawberries. Preparation takes longer than actual cooking.
If desired, you can make pancakes from a prepared mix.
Another griddle favorite is chicken fried rice.
- 4 cups of cold, cooked white rice
- 1 medium yellow onion – chopped
- 2 grated carrots
- 2 chicken breasts – cubed
- Soy sauce
- 1 egg
- Sauté onions in butter on one side of the griddle.
- Cook chicken on the other side of the griddle.
- When the chicken is done, place rice on the griddle and heat.
- Use a spatula to bring onions and chicken into the rice mixture.
- Crack the egg onto the griddle, cook, and chop with a spatula. Add to mixture.
- Add soy sauce to taste. Remove and serve.
Cast Iron Cooking
As an outdoor person involved in primitive crafts, cast iron cooking has always had a special appeal for me.
One of my favorite breakfast recipes is one we call the “Mountain Man Breakfast”.
Ingredients – (Serves four, but may be halved for two)
- One pound country sausage
- One pound frozen hash browns
- Ten eggs
- Two cups of cheese (mild or sharp, as desired)
This dish may be prepared with hot coals from a fire or with charcoal. I will outline the procedure with charcoal. This is prepared with a 12-quart Dutch oven with legs. This allows room for the coals under the oven.
In order to regulate the heat, it is a rule of thumb to have twice as many charcoal briquets on top of the oven as you have under the oven (the rising heat requires more briquets on top to assure even heating).
- Allow the charcoal underneath to preheat the oven.
- Place the sausage into the oven and cook until brown (chunk up so that it is loose).
- Remove and reserve sausage, leaving oil in the oven.
- Place frozen hash browns into the oven.
- Replace sausage evenly on top of the hash browns.
- Place the previously cracked and scrambled eggs over the sausage.
- Sprinkle a layer of cheese over the eggs.
- After the cheese is added, place hot charcoal (twice the amount under the oven) on top of the flanged lid.
- Allow to cook for approximately 20 minutes and check progress. It may take up to twenty-five minutes.
When ready, the finished product is similar to a casserole or quiche and may be cut into slices and lifted out with a spatula. This dish is complimented nicely by fresh fruit.
Get ready for a breakfast fit for a king!
These are suggestions to experiment with, but hamburgers on the grill are always a good standby and familiar to most.
For more tips on cooking outdoors, check out the following articles:
- Cooking Without Power: An Introduction To Dutch Ovens
- Cooking Over Wood: Cast Iron Techniques And More