After preparing gourmet meals on a heel, chef Adam Glick from Below Deck Sailing Yacht says cooking over an open campfire isn’t as hard as people might think.
The tenured yacht chef traded sailing for a life on land and is on a mission to teach everyday home cooks and chefs how to maximize their campfire fare. With summer on the horizon, the urge to gather camping gear and enjoy nature is at an all-time high. Glick says there is no reason to survive off of canned beans and Poptarts. In fact, just about any gourmet meal can be prepared over a campfire.
Grilling and cooking both deliver heat
Glick said that cooking over an open flame in the woods just the application of heat. “Cooking and grilling are the same thing: the application of heat,” he told Whalebone Magazine. “You’ve got two types of food, whole raw food and cooked food. Doesn’t matter how you applied heat (grill, oven, whatever), just did you apply heat or not.”
“There’s countless ways to go about it; it’s just how you go about it that matters,” he added. “Just like yesterday for example, I thought to myself ‘Man, I could really go for a bacon sandwich.’ So I got out the cast iron, put it onto my grill and got some nice smokey bacon right there. All that mattered though was the application of heat and how I applied the heat.”
But he wants people to know that they can prepare just about anything they desire while camping or outdoors. “I think by showing people A) cooking isn’t difficult, and B) you can bring a potato to your campsite, you can bring perishable goods, and it’s not a big deal, all you need to do is just use it and not bring too much,” he added. “The sky’s the limit.”
Chef Adam says to avoid cooking directly in an open flame
Glick offered advice on how to control the campfire temperature when it comes to cooking. “I think my best advice for people looking to cook with an open flame is…don’t cook with an open flame,” he shared. “If you’re going to grill with coals, work with the hot coals, not the flame.”
He described how to create an ideal heated cooking area in the wild. “Yes, you do need a starter, and hey you can even use hand sanitizer—we’ve got a lot of that laying around!” he exclaimed. “Essentially coals you buy are just burnt wood that hasn’t been burned all the way, so light them up and let them heat up a bit.”
“To tell if they’re ready, you shouldn’t be able to put your hand anywhere near it and the coals should be white ash—not grey ash because that means they’ve gone cold,” he said. “If you’re creating a campfire, let it burn down to create your own coals. And please do this when it’s not in a high-risk fire zone.”
Campfire chefs can use a grill or a fire pit
Glick acknowleged that campers are still going to want to roast (and burn) foods like hot dogs over an open flame. But he said campfire dinners can be reimagined beyond s’mores.
“What I’m suggesting is maybe you buy yourself a tri-tip, or a couple ribeyes, or even some artichokes to ramp it up,” he suggested. “You need to start cooking with coals so you can do temperature control. Stop burning your hands; save the hair on your arms, and start moving coals around whatever cooking apparatus you choose (grill grate, cast iron on top of that). Wolf and Grizzly make a great little lightweight outdoor grill that is exactly what I’m talkin’ about.”
“But let’s also say you don’t have a grill,” he said. “Get your fire going with logs or coals, whatever you have, and just pull one section away and put your pan right on top of that. Sky’s the limit of what you can make. Go out there and cook whatever you want but all you have to do is apply heat and you’re basically in a kitchen. Just go for it!”
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