Try a Campfire-Cooked Thanksgiving Meal
Want to spend your Thanskgiving in the great outdoors, appreciating this wonderful country and landscape we have many reasons to be thanksful for? Why not cook your Thanksgiving meal outdoors this year?
Cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast while camping isn't as daunting as it sounds, it really all comes down to having enough wood to keep a fire going for 3+ hours while the turkey cooks. Other than that, it actually might be easier to cook a holiday meal in the great outdoors rather than in a cramped kitchen.
*turkey (Based on a standard sized cast iron Dutch oven you'll want a bird that is under 7 pounds)
*3 cups of chicken stock
*4 cloves of garlic
*1 red onion
*herb blend (rosemary, thyme, sage)
*1 stick of butter
*3 sweet potatoes
*salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
*1/2 pound of green beans
*1 pound of bacon
*cast iron Dutch oven
*aluminum pie tin
*camp stove and propane
*cast iron skillet
The only "trick" I can think of when cooking your Thanksgiving meal on a campfire comes into play right at the beginning.Take an aluminum pie tin, poke a few holes in it and put it upside down in the bottom of the Dutch oven. This will keep the turkey off of the direct heat and allow the stock to steam the bird a bit.
To start with the actual food, chop up the garlic and half of the red onion. Take those along with half a stick of butter and stuff them inside the cavity of the turkey. Then place your bird atop the pie tin in the cast iron dutch oven. Now pour the 3 cups of chicken stock over it and place the rosemary, thyme and sage on top. Make sure you have some good coals ready and then place the dutch oven in the fire!
To keep the turkey at a consistent heat you'll actually want to keep the fire burning in a separate part of the pit. As the roaring flames die down push the coals underneath the Dutch oven. Cooking with the coals rather than the fire itself will allow you to have much more control. It will also keep the turkey cooking in something more like an oven rather than being scorched with a blow torch.
You'll want to periodically spin the cast iron to make sure all sides of the turkey are cooked evenly. Other than that it's really just a waiting game, the inside of the turkey should read 180 degrees before you pull it off the fire. While you're waiting you can start to prep some of the other parts of the meal.
Sweet potatoes should be cut up into small cubes, and can be mixed in with any other veggies and spices that suit your taste. We decided to just use what we had and throw some diced onion, salt, pepper and chili powder on them. To cook the potatoes fashion a foil packet and add a little bit of water before sealing. Place them on a cooking rack or directly in the fire, they'll take about 20 minutes to become tender.
Once your turkey is done, pull it off the fire and turn to the camp stove so you can get started on the last two side dishes. You want the turkey to sit for 20 minutes before you carve it anyway.
If we're going to have some green vegetables on our plates you better believe we're going to add bacon to them. For the green bean dish start by frying up some bacon until it's cooked but still tender. Pat the bacon dry and then dice it into small crumbles, pour out most of the leftover bacon grease (but not all!), and then add the bacon and green beans back into the cast iron skillet. Cook until green beans are tender.
And last but not least, the stuffing. Now i'm not saying it's impossible, but making a stuffing from scratch without the luxuries of home seems like a real headache. If you're camping you'll need to cut corners every once in a while and this was one of those times. We used some good ol' boxed stuffing for this Thanksgiving meal, it's quick, portable and still tastes great.