Campfire Cook Up
Camping is one of my favourite ways of disconnecting from the world and really having a break! We had a long weekend this week and I, along with a few friends headed up to the Murray river on the border of NSW & Victoria for a couple of nights of camping, fishing, and relaxing. I love being able to sit and hear the sounds of nature, 'switch off' from technology and truly unwind.
After a stressful few weeks it was the perfect way recharge, think about life, reset some goals and reflect. I honestly feel that these escapes are so important - especially when there is a lot going on. Taking a short break can truly make a difference to your mental state and your emotional stability.
While we were sitting on the banks of the calm flowing river, we had a good old fashioned campfire cook up. Using a camp (or 'dutch') oven over hot coals we managed to cook a delicious meal and although there was some refining to be done (scorched potatoes, ohhh dear!) the overall meal was delicious and well received.
We got a fire going nice and early so that by midday we had some good coals to start our cooking process. We dug a seperate pit in the sand next to our fire and put a bed of coals in the bottom before placing the camp oven over the top to slow cook our lamb. We continued to add coals to the pitt over the next 5 hours as the lamb slowly cooked. As the sun began to sink we served up our meal - slow cooked lamb over charcoal potatoes and chargrilled corn on the cob. Delish!!!!
Cooking on a camp fire can be a little experimental, so follow my guidelines loosely, use your intuition and keep checking the cooking process frequently. And most of all enjoy it. If you're out in nature then a camp fire cook up is just the icing on the cake.....and if it doesn't work perfectly the first time you'll just have to plan another weekend getaway to perfect your technique! :)
SLOW COOKED LAMB
1 Tbsp ea. Cumin, Coriander, Sumac. Paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
1.3 kg leg of lamb (on the bone)
1/2 cup of oil
Generous amounts of good quality salt. (I used pink Murray river salt.)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of red wine
5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
Mix spices together. Drizzle some olive oil over the lamb and rub generously with a few big pinches of salt. Sprinkle over half of spice mix and rub well all over the lamb leg.
Heat your camp oven over the open fire until REALLY hot! Remove from the heat, then pour in the remaining oil and sear the lamb on all sides. Add spices, garlic and red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to cook out the flavour in the spices. Add the tomatoes along with 2 cups of water. Place your camp oven over hot coals and cook for 4-5 hours turning every hour or so until the lamb is tender and pulls easily off the bone. Add water as required to make sure the lamb is always cooking in some liquid so it doesn't catch.
When the lamb is tender remove from the heat and using tongs or two forks pull apart all the meat. Remove the bones and discard. Return the lamb to the heat and cook until the sauce thickens and has turned into a delicious stew.
Serve over campfire potatoes with a side of corn.
1 medium potato per person
1/2 a large sweet potato per person
Prepare yourself enough tin foil to have two squares large enough to wrap around the whole potato. Place one potato in the middle of each piece of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and a little sprinkle with salt. Rub the olive oil and salt all over the potato until well coated. Wrap in two pieces of tin foil making sure that there are no holes. Seperate the sweet potatoes from the regular potatoes.
Once the lamb has cooked for 2 hours make yourself another pit and cover the bottom with coals from the fire. Place the regular potatoes over the coals turning every hour. After 1 hour add the sweet potato and continue cooking until a sharp knife can easily be inserted into the middle of the potato. Set aside until the lamb is ready (should be close!) Chop your potatoes in half. Dob on butter if you feel the need and pile on the slow cooked lamb. Serve with corn on the cob! (Recipe below.)
CHARGRILLED CORN ON THE COB
1/2 corn cob per person
1 tsp butter per piece of corn
Prepare enough squares of tin foil to make sure you have two squares per piece of corn. Place corn cob in the middle of two pieces of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub well to coat corn and then place butter on top of corn and wrap well with tin foil. When the lamb is about half an hour away from being finished chuck corn on the outer edges of the fire. Turn after 15 minutes. When lamb is ready serve alongside the lamb and potatoes with extra butter (because you can seriously never have enough...right?)