Winning Recipes for Campfire Cuisine

Food Styling By Kat Hughes

We pick the top entrées, side dishes, and desserts from nearly 350 reader entries in Scouting magazine’s “Camp Food Favorites” recipe contest.

What do two Scouters from Idaho know about Louisiana-style jambalaya? Plenty, say the judges of Scouting magazine’s “Camp Food Favorites” recipe contest. Kevin Young and Jim Brown, Scoutmaster and assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 44, Heyburn, Idaho, are the contest’s Grand Prize winners with their Dutch-oven entrée, Seafood Jambalaya.

Judge Alan Kesselheim said, “Although this dish involved more prep time than some of the other entries, the unique great taste overwhelmed that factor.”

Kevin Young said this isn’t the first time the Creole favorite has won a blue ribbon.

“The summer camp we attended had a Dutch-oven cook-off for Scoutmasters. We wanted to wow the judges with something they probably hadn’t eaten in the previous weeks. Not only did the jambalaya win the event hands down, we ended up feeding most of the senior camp staff and all of the other Scoutmasters in camp.”

Nearly 350 readers entered the magazine’s contest, submitting their favorite camp recipes for entrées, side dishes, and desserts. Our panel of judges (see bios in sidebar) picked the top entries in each category, and the magazine’s editors selected the grand-prize winner. The winners are:

Entrées—1st Place, Stephen D. (Blade Blackie) Black, Troop 381 committee chairman, Spring Mills, Pa.; 2nd Place, Debra Moore, Troop 131 assistant Scoutmaster, Sutton, Mass.; 3rd Place, George Brown, Sea Scout Ship 14 Skipper, Los Osos, Calif.

Side Dishes—1st Place, Michael Ryan, Troop 678 Scoutmaster, Boulder, Utah; 2nd Place, Mark A. Brown, Pack 236 committee member, North Ogden, Utah; 3rd Place, Jon Gresham, Troop 505 Scoutmaster, Lubbock, Tex.

Desserts—1st Place, Bill Leeke, troop com missioner, Indianapolis, Ind.; 2nd Place, Erich Wolz, Troop 505 assistant Scoutmaster, Houston, Tex.; 3rd Place, David Guimond, Troop 189 Scoutmaster, Fort Kent, Me.

Grand Prize winners Young and Brown will share a $400 BSA Supply Division gift certificate.

Other winners in each category will receive Supply Division gift certificates: 1st Place, $300; 2nd Place, $200; 3rd Place, $100.

In addition, all winners will receive a compact multipurpose tool, courtesy of Leatherman Tool Group Inc.


Grand Prize
Kevin Young and Jim Brown, Scoutmaster and assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 44, Heyburn, Idaho

Grand Prize Winner

SEAFOOD JAMBALAYA

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1 pound boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 pound mild Italian sausage, chunked
1 pound mixed seafood (shrimp, crab, crawfish)
1/3 cup oil
1 large onion, sliced and chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 small red or green peppers, quartered and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 14-oz. can chicken broth
3 cups okra, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon gumbo filé (powdered sassafras leaves)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
2 to 3 cups long-grained white rice

* Option: Replace cayenne with crushed and dried hot red peppers.

Cook in a deep, 14-inch Dutch oven. Heat chicken and Italian sausage until cooked through, but not browned. In a separate pot, steam seafood mixture until done (shrimp will turn pink).

In the Dutch-oven lid or another pan, sauté onions, celery, and red or green peppers until tender. Add the sautéed mixture, along with the tomatoes, broth, okra, and mushrooms to the chicken and sausage. Mix thoroughly.

Add dry peppers, gumbo filé, and rice. Mix thoroughly.

Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add Worcestershire sauce and orange juice. Add water as necessary to cook rice. Add steamed seafood mixture. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serves 8 to 10.


Entrée
1st Place, Stephen D. (Blade Blackie) Black, Troop 381 committee chairman, Spring Mills, Pa.

Entrée

1ST PLACE ENTRÉE

BLADE BLACKIE’S POISON PEPPERS

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1 1/2 pounds thick-sliced or chunked bacon
1 medium head of cabbage
1/2 cup water to start
1 bag hot peppers (a dozen or so, depending on your tolerance for hot)
1 softball-size onion
2 sweet peppers
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 pound dried beef or favorite meat, cut into 1-inch squares
salt, pepper, garlic (cloves or powder)

Cook in a very large skillet or Dutch oven.

Cut bacon into squares, fry until golden brown. Leave grease in the skillet.

Chop cabbage into 1/2-inch strips, break apart, and add. Fill skillet with cabbage and add 1/2 cup water. As cabbage cooks down, add rest of cabbage until all has been put in. Cover the skillet but uncover it occasionally to stir cabbage to keep it from sticking. Cook until cabbage starts to get limp.

Cut the onion and sweet peppers into small pieces and add, keeping some of the strips of each for garnish (if desired). Add the meat squares and the can of mushroom soup. Add water as needed, enough for a broth that allows soup to blend easily and keeps stock from sticking. Add salt, pepper, and garlic according to taste, mixing well. Cook until sauce is thick.

Determine the amount of “hot” you want to achieve and add hot peppers, leaving the stems on the peppers. (This keeps the seeds inside the peppers.) When stirring, do not break open the peppers.

Cook until sauce is smooth and thick, stirring occasionally. Garnish the top with pieces of onion and the colorful hot and sweet peppers. Simmer about 15 minutes.

This dish can be served by itself or on bread or rolls with butter for that extra taste boost.

Serves 12 to 16.

2ND PLACE

SPINACH AND RICE BAKE

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2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach
1/4 stick butter (2 tablespoons)
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

Cook spinach with water in a two-quart pan with cover, according to package directions. Remove from pan when done, drain well, and set aside.

Use two-quart pan to cook rice in water with salt (1/2 cup uncooked rice, cooked in 1 1/3 cups water, yields 2 cups cooked rice). Pour cooked rice and spinach into Dutch oven, stir in butter until melted, then remaining ingredients. Mix and cover.

Bake over 18 charcoal briquettes spread around bottom edge of the oven and 18 on the cover for 45 minutes.

Serves 10.

3RD PLACE

PICADILLO

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1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced in slivers
1 red (or green) bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf, crushed
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup green olives, sliced 1/4 inch thick (sliced salad olives with pimientos)
salt and pepper to taste

Before leaving for camp, thoroughly mix beef, vinegar, garlic, and cumin and marinate for at least 15 minutes. Freeze the marinated beef in a flat block for overnight camping or in a thicker block for long-term ice chest storage. Stored in an ice chest, it should then thaw by the time you are ready for it.

Sauté the onion and pepper in the oil. When they become soft, add the beef and cook until the pink disappears. Then add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over instant rice.

Serves 4.


Side Dish
1st Place, Michael Ryan, Troop 678 Scoutmaster, Boulder, Utah.

Side Dish

1ST PLACE SIDE DISH

ONION PUDDING

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8 tablespoons butter
8 cups thinly sliced and chopped onions
1 garlic clove, crushed
6 cups French bread cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth
cooking spray
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
3 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
parchment paper cut to fit bottom of 12-inch Dutch oven

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a cast-iron skillet over charcoal briquettes. Add onions and garlic, cover the skillet, and remove a few briquettes to lower the temperature. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add briquettes to raise the temperature to medium and uncover skillet. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally until onions caramelize and turn brown‹about 20 minutes.

Remove onion mixture from heat and transfer into large bowl. Add bread, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Stir well.

Cut parchment paper to fit 12-inch Dutch oven. Spray lightly with Pam-type cooking spray. Spread mixture in the Dutch oven.

Melt the remaining butter over high heat, remove, and pour over the bread-onion mixture. Sprinkle on cheese.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly and add half-and-half. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread-onion-cheese mixture.

Use a spoon to lift sections of the bread-onion-cheese mixture to make sure liquid is infused throughout.

Place briquettes around the pan using the indirect-heat method. Cook 30 to 40 minutes until pudding is puffed and golden.

Remove pan from heat. Cut pudding into large pieces and serve.

Serves 8 to 10.

2ND PLACE

NOT YOUR MAMA’S BAKED BEANS

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2 large sweet onions, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
3 large bell peppers, chopped (choose yellow, red, and green to add color)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 pound summer sausage, sliced and cubed
2 large (27.5 oz.) cans baked beans
1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup 7-Up or Sprite beverage

Cook in a 12-inch Dutch oven. Cooking time 45 minutes to an hour.

Place chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a plastic zipper bag and store it in a cooler.

Next, cut the sausage, place it in another plastic zipper bag, and return to the cooler.

Open the beans and dump into the Dutch oven. Stir in the pineapple, water chestnuts, sausage, and vegetables.

Mix the brown sugar and 7-Up (or Sprite) together until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture over the beans, mix together, and place on the coals. Stir about every 10 minutes.

Use 10 charcoal briquettes below Dutch oven and 16 on top. This recipe can also be cooked on a camp stove.

Serves 8 to 12.

3RD PLACE

GRILLED SWEET POTATO SALAD

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2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 to 2 sweet onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 mangoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper (stem, rib, and seeds removed), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup of chopped toasted peanuts or walnut pieces (can be omitted if allergies exist)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Combine potatoes, onions, mangoes, and bell pepper in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, lime juice, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, salt, and cayenne.

Pour the juice-oil mixture into the potato mixture. Toss and fold to coat evenly.

Lay out and stack 2 large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Mound sweet potato mixture into the middle and wrap in both layers of foil. Turn up edges and fold tightly to form a sealed package.

Place directly on thin layer of coals or on a grate over hotter fires (targeting about 400 to 450 degrees).

Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from fire and let cool slightly before unwrapping to avoid getting burned. If desired, transfer the mixture to another bowl. Sprinkle with nuts (optional) and add chopped cilantro before serving.

Serves 6.


Dessert
1st Place, Bill Leeke, troop commissioner, Indianapolis, Ind.

Dessert

1ST PLACE DESSERT

RUSSIAN CHERRY DELIGHT

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1 15-oz. can crushed pineapple
1 21-oz. can cherry pie filling
1 21-oz. can strawberry pie filling
2 21-oz. cans apple pie filling
1 8-oz. bag chopped pecans
1 18-oz. box Duncan Hines yellow (butter recipe) cake mix
1 to 2 sticks of butter
1 cup small marshmallows
1 2.37-oz. jar cinnamon
1 12-inch Dutch oven

Preheat a lightly greased 12-inch Dutch oven to 350 degrees.

Pour in drained crushed pineapple, spread evenly, and cover lightly with cinnamon. Follow the same procedure with the cherry pie, straw berry pie, and apple pie fillings, except apply a heavy coat of cinnamon on the apple pie filling.

Pour in DRY cake mix and spread evenly. Sprinkle pecan pieces evenly over the dry cake mix.

Cut butter stick into thin squares and apply over entire top; sprinkle baby marshmallows over top.

Bake one hour at 350 degrees, with nine charcoal briquettes under the oven and 15 on the lid. Check after 20 minutes; if necessary, adjust the number of briquettes. Serve warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped topping.

Serves 10 to 12.

2ND PLACE

BROWNIE PUDDING

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Combine in a plastic zipper bag at home:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the topping in another plastic zipper bag at home:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa

At camp, add the following to the plastic zipper bag with flour:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the milk and flour mixture into a foil lined Dutch oven. Sprinkle the topping over it. Pour 1 3/4 cups hot water over the top.

Cover and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool 15 minutes before eating.

Serves 8.

3RD PLACE

ONE-ONE-ONE

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1 can extra-large biscuits
1 cup cream
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

Line a Dutch oven with aluminum foil and preheat. Place biscuits inside. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of biscuits. Then pour cream over the biscuits.

Cover and bake at about 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream.

Be prepared to make several batches. They disappear quickly.

Serves 8


Meet Our Judges

Alan Kesselheim
(Entrées)

Alan Kesselheim is a freelance writer and author of eight books, includingCamp Cook’s Companion—A Pocket Guide (Ragged Mountain Press). He, his wife, Marypat Zitzer, and three children live in Bozeman, Mont., where they pursue adventurous outdoor activities, eating well all the while.

Tim and Christine Conners
(Side Dishes)

Authors of Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’and Lipsmackin’ Vegetarian Backpackin’ (both books from Globe-Pequot Press), Tim and Christine Conners have traveled miles of trails throughout the United States, eating great (and, occasionally, not-so-great) foods along the way. They are the parents of four young children, the two oldest of whom are Cub Scouts. They live in Savannah, Ga., where Tim also serves as assistant Cub master of Pack 56.

Bruce Tracy (Desserts)

Winner of the 2004 World Championship Dutch Oven Cook-off, Bruce Tracy has been cooking meals inside cast iron for most of his life. Along with his wife, Vickie, Bruce has competed in Dutch-oven cooking events for 10 years. He is currently executive secretary of the International Dutch Oven Society, head quartered in Logan, Utah (www.idos.com).

2 thoughts on “Winning Recipes for Campfire Cuisine

  1. Pingback: Campfire Jambalaya - the grand-prize winning recipe from Scouting magazine's national contest. - tomorrows adventures

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