I'm starting a series on camp food recipes as we transition into warmer climate in Australia and we plan to get ready for the great outdoors. I do like being outdoors, in the country or regions in natural landscape, away from the cities for a long weekend break. I remember when I did a 4 day hike along the Bay of Fires in Tasmania a few years ago, it was tough with 10 kilograms on my back walking on sand 6 hours a day and I thought I wished I had packed less. Any food you bring out camping should have the criteria of being light weight, can be stored so it's still fresh when you set up camp, is easy to prepare, easy to cook, delicious, nutritious and no fuss cleaning up.
I'm a fan of foil pack cooking now that I’ve discovered how easy it is to prepare a delicious meal with minimum preparation and cleaning up time. But what is foil pack cooking and how can you create quick, easy, healthy and delicious food if you are going camping?
I keep in touch with an old high school friend who now lives in the US and her sons are part of boy scout camp and she said to me scout camp has introduced them to hobo packs where they bundle up cut up ingredients and wrap them in foil packs and cook them in the coals of a campfire. Their buffet of ingredients can include 3 different proteins, cut up vegetables, cheese, corn cobs, potatoes and rice. Essentially, you throw in what you like to eat in the foil packet and anything you can cook in the oven, you can put it in the camp fire.
What is foil pack cooking? Essentially you are cooking a meal in aluminium foil with all your ingredients placed in it and you put in on the campfire. The other advantage of this method of cooking is you can make your foil packs ahead of time so there is less preparation work at the campsite. If you are going to use raw meat, I would probably suggest using a meat that can be eaten less than well done like fresh scotch fillet steaks cut into stir fried strips, just in case as you don’t want to risk food poisoning out camping. I would avoid using chicken unless I cooked it before I went camping and just use the foil wraps to reheat it.
The other criteria is that you would want to put ingredients in that roughly have the same cooking time. I haven’t tested it but if you have something that takes longer to cook that’s not cut up like sweet potatoes you wouldn’t want to mix it with beef which would cook in lesser time (unless it's partly cooked before you left). The recipe that follows does have carrot in it but I ensured the carrots were shredded when I created my foil pack to ensure everything in the foil pack is cooked consistently (and I don't mind my carrots raw).
What sort of aluminium foil should you use? Heavy duty is ideal but you can use normal foil paper but have 3 layers of it so the foil doesn’t break on the coal or barbeque.
As the food cooks in the foil pack, all the juices combine together and when you open up your foil pack, your meal is ready to eat.
I made a foil packet based on what I like to eat and what I would make on a weeknight after work when I’m too lazy to cook: for a single serve, 200g of scotch fillet strips (ask you butcher to strip them) with shredded vegetables topped with my favourite spices which is harissa and a pinch of garlic powder. You can substitute another spice or dressing instead if harissa is too spicy for you. The vegetables I added were from MD Provodores who now has some whiz-bang machinery that shreds up and dices all your vegetables for you like carrots, onions, tabouli, pumpkin, zucchini which you can order in bags full to save time in the preparation process, and you can order bags full of them which is handy if you are going out to camp with a large group.
Here is my harissa scotch fillet strips with vegetables foil pack recipe.
Foil Packs (per single serving)
- Heavy Duty Foil
- 200g scotch fillet strips
- 1 cup shredded zucchinis
- 1 cup of shredded carrots
- Handful of grape tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
- 1 capsicum
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Lebanese bread (to sop up juices)
- 1/2 teaspoon, garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon harissa (but if this is too spicy for you or for kids you can add your own preferred spices or sauces like ketchup or Worcestershire sauce)
- Cut heavy duty aluminium foil in 30 centimetres in length and it’s probably better to be generous with the foil than it being too short
- Brush the dull side of the aluminium foil with olive oil.
- If you can mix the meat with oil and spices separately beforehand that would help the flavours of the spices spread more evenly whilst cooking over charcoal or the grill. Otherwise you can add the meat in the middle of the foil, then half of the spices sprinkled on the top and then add the cut up vegetables on top of that, and then the remaining spices on the vegetables.
- Fold the squares over and crimp the edges together to form well-sealed packets.
- Place on a hot grill, and leave it on the grill 25 minutes. Remove one packet from the grill, and place on a plate using tongs. Carefully open it to check for doneness. The meat should be tender and juicy.
- Either transfer to plates or bowls (there will be lots of juice),
- Hopefully you have also brought some flat bread (like Lebanese bread) and eat the meat and veges with the bread and use it to sop up the juices as well.