Longer camping trips where you hunt and kill your own dinner can be one of the most rewarding experiences an outdoorsman can have. While most game can be delicious when simply cooked over an open flame, there a few simple things you can do to improve the flavor of almost any meal cooked over a campfire.
- Before you cook: Choose the right fuel.
This might seem obvious but picking the right kind of wood to cook over can be the most important choice you make. It’s fine to bring your own charcoal with you and it will do a fine job cooking your meat, but if you want to bring some extra flavor to your outdoor table you might want to consider bringing a bundle or two of some specific woods and/ or using some of the native trees if the right varieties are available in the field.
Fruit trees like apple can give your meal a delightful and complex smoky flavor that tastes; the same goes for maple. Also most hardwoods, such as oak, make great cooking woods. One important thing to remember: If at all possible avoid using pine trees. They provide little to no flavor and can be difficult to manage.
- While you’re cooking: Take it slow.
Unless you’re starving to death, the slower you cook your meat the better. Keep the meat above the flame. Cook down the fuel so you’re roasting slowly over hot coals, this will help seal in the natural juices of the game and seal in the flavor. Also, be sure to cook your game all the way through. Rare meat might sound great but unless you have a meat thermometer and can guarantee that the interior of the meat has reached 170 degrees, don’t take any chances.
- After the cooking is done: Season it right.
After cooking your meal over the campfire it can be tempting to chow down right away. But, if you take a few minutes to put some basic seasoning to use you can improve the quality of dinner 100%. Just take a zip lock bag full of your favorite seasoning mix into the field with you and sprinkle a bit over the top over your dinner (or rub some in beforehand) and chow down on some gourmet campfire grub.
Photo: Gregory Taylor