Not Your Brother’s Campfire Food


I’ve already opined how much I dislike hot dogs, so why would I bring them on a camping trip?

Thankfully, my friend Sandy feels the same way. That’s why–whenever we camp in Northern Lower Michigan–we cook over a fire for most of our meals.

On a recent trip to D.H. Day Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, we brought along a pork steak from Creswick Farms and grilled it similarly to the recipe I make at home. The only difference is we partially cover the meat with foil on a campfire grate because there’s no lid to cover it like on a gas grill. And, because heat control is trickier with coals, it becomes an exercise in trial-and-error. So I’d recommend cutting into the meat to check for doneness before serving, which you might already do with a gas grill anyway.

Along with our pork, we roasted some red-skinned potatoes in a skillet with a little water, olive oil, and salt (covered in foil until tender).

The key with camping is to mix and match your recipes so that you can use several ingredients for other meals. For example, with the potatoes, we cooked more than what we needed for dinner and saved the rest to have for breakfast with a frittata.

We also brought along the last of the local fresh asparagus and cooked it in foil with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then drizzled it with fresh-squeezed lemon juice before serving. (These latter ingredients are key staples for camping!)

And the bread? It’s baguette from Stone House Bread in Leland, Michigan. We brushed it with some olive oil and grilled that over the fire, too.

We also had a fresh salad to use up some of the vegetables leftover from our Roadtrip Tortas.

With a bottle of Harbor Red wine from Good Harbor Vineyards–one of our favorites in the Leelanau Peninsula–we had a delicious meal that didn’t take much more time than it would at home. And if you use a charcoal grill, it’s probably about the same amount of time: The key to cooking over a fire is to build a good fire and use hot coals.

It just takes a little planning and time. What do you do while you wait for the fire to turn into coals? Open a bottle of wine!

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