Is your campout cooking limited to the same-old, same-old? Hot dogs and s’mores at the campground, instant oatmeal and freeze-dried meals in the backcountry? Here’s the deal: It doesn’t take much to spice up your great-outdoors cuisine, and the ingredients and tools you need to do it don’t have to overload your pack (or your bear canister). It’s all the easier to do some real wilderness cooking with the compact nCamp Stove. Its collapsible, wood-burning combustion chamber means that you’ll have a ready supply of biomass and no fear of running out of fuel (though this multi-talented stove also works with liquid, solid, and gas fuels). The nCamp portable Prep Surface, meanwhile, makes chopping, staging, and serving a breeze. The nCamp Stove and Prep Surface were designed to nest together for easy transport and are available as the Kitchen to Go bundle. nCamp’s product line also consists of a 4pk of stackable Cups, a 24oz slim Water Bottle and Espresso-Style Café that brews flavorful, strong coffee for yourself or to share. Visit https://ncampgear.com/shop-now/ to see nCamp’s full line of compact, durable and easy to use camping gear.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of the culinary possibilities along the trail and at the campsite armed with an nCamp Kitchen to Go.
A Little Goes a Long Way: Highly Packable Ingredients That Pack a ‘Gourmet’ Punch
The following list covers packable ingredients that can dress up a pouch dinner or provide the makings of a simple, from-scratch feast.
Quick-cooking grains : If the flavor of those instant rice or pasta meals isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ve got options. Quick-cooking grains such as quinoa and couscous make great backpacking meal bases: They’re easy to prepare and fuel-efficient.
Spices : Few ingredients go as far in the backcountry larder as spices, which really couldn’t take up less room or add less weight to your pack. A blend of, say, Italian herb seasoning, a bit of smoked paprika, cumin powder, or some fresh-ground pepper (see the next section) can transform an otherwise dull dish into a home run.
Butter : Butter, of course, makes everything better, and it provides a great source of fatty energy for pounding out those trail miles. Except in really hot weather, a cube of butter in a small, hard-bodied container will be fine on shorter backpacking trips. On longer treks, opt for clarified butter, which can keep for weeks.
Garlic and onions : Few ingredients can liven up a simple meal better than fresh garlic or onion, and both of these alliums can keep for weeks.
Other veggies : Other root vegetables such as carrots and small potatoes will last just fine for camping, and they are easily woven into soups or grain dishes. You can also pack along tougher green veggies—lacinato or curly kale, for instance—for delicious fresh roughage on your first night out. A small head of cabbage or peppers also travel well, while adding color and crunch.
Olive/Canola oil : Tote small amount of high-quality oil in a small bottle and you’ll be able to use it to flavorfully top pasta, rice, and other grain dishes. Olive oil adds flavor, but can burn at a lower temp, so use it carefully. Lighter oils (canola) burn at a higher temperature, so campsite chefs should choose based on what they are cooking.
Parmesan : Parmesan doesn’t need to be refrigerated on a backpacking trip, and with a mini-grater you can add some creamy, cheesy goodness to all sorts of hot meals.
Finishing salt : The readily available tiny tins of gourmet finishing salt—another transformative ingredient—are tailor-made for camping.
Bacon bits : As you may now be realizing, a lot of the secret weapons in the home kitchen can serve the same purpose out in the wilds. Ahead of your trek, fry up some bacon, then crumble it into bits. It’s the perfect, heavenly garnish for your campsite mac-n-cheese or soup.
All-purpose flour : With two cups or so of flour packed along, you can use the nCamp Stove setup to make easy-peasy backcountry flatbreads in no time (see recipe below).
Three Basic Gourmet Camp Kitchen Tools
Backcountry cookware’s come a long way from the old rattling mess-kits of yore, what with lightweight aluminum and titanium pots and bowls that nest into one another and the versatility of that earth-shaking invention the “spork.” Rather than go into a comprehensive inventory, we’ll spotlight a trio of tools that are mighty nice to have in your camping cookset.
Basic tall-sided saucepan with lid : This kind of all-purpose pan can be used for boiling, sautéing, soaking/rehydrating—you can get by with it as your only cookpot (and eating vessel, too). Some lids can double as frying pans and plates; slotted lids turn a pot into a readymade colander for your pasta-cooking pleasure.
Small silicone spatula : This handy-dandy tool not only helps you stir, but also serves as an ace scraper-outer: It doesn’t scratch your pot, and its flexibility allows you to pretty thoroughly ladle out a meal, making cleanup that much easier.
Mini pepper grinder : With plenty of camping-friendly mini pepper grinders on the market, there’s no excuse for not taking one on the trail. Again, some fresh-ground pepper ranks among a backcountry foodie’s best friends.
Three Easy and Delicious Backpacking Recipes
All three of these recipes can be adapted for both car-camping and backpacking. The first two illustrate how efficiently you can preassemble ingredients for efficient packing and meal-planning purposes on a backcountry outing.
One Pot Potato Soup
This quick (20 minute), hearty soup is packed with energy and flavor, and can be prepared using only one pot and a few ingredients.
1.5 cups of water
1 medium red potato
1 small onion
1 clove of elephant garlic
1 cube of low sodium bouillon (chicken or vegetable)
3 tablespoons canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
Add twigs to your ncamp Stove and light or you can use our custom Gas Adapter if using gas to cook is your preference. Slice 1 low sodium bouillon cube and pour water and bouillon into pot (stir occasionally). Cover the pot for faster boiling. Once bouillon has dissolved, pour the mixture into a heat-safe cup and set aside. Finely chop garlic and onion. Add 2 tbsp of canola oil to the pot and put back on the stove. Add garlic and onions to the pot and stir immediately. Chop the potato. Add 1 tbsp of canola oil and salt and pepper to the pot (salt optional). Add potatoes to pot and stir. Add the bouillon broth and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Give it one last stir and your delicious soup is ready to serve.
Pulled Chipotle Chicken Tacos
With only a few ingredients, chipotle rub and the nCamp Stove, we created a campsite delicacy. Pulled chipotle chicken tacos, served with spicy cabbage slaw on a flour tortilla are easy to make and only take about 15 minutes.
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
1 chicken breast
1 cup of cabbage
1 serrano pepper
chipotle rub or your choice of seasoning
When using wood to cook, fill the combustion chamber with twigs and light. Allow your fire a minute to catch a good flame. Add cooking oil to the pan and heat. Add chicken breast to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook for 5-7 minutes more. Thinly slice the cabbage and put in a bowl. Add a thinly sliced serrano pepper, grated carrot, salt, pepper and oil to your cabbage and mix together. Remove the chicken from the stove and use two forks to shred. Add as much or as little seasoning as you’d like. We suggest using chipotle rub but feel free to get creative. Serve chicken and slaw on flour tortillas and you are all set to enjoy a delicious meal.
Rustic Camp Rosemary Flatbread
To go alongside your rice dish or a bean/lentil soup—and to serve as a tortilla substitute for trail lunches—here’s a barebones, camp-friendly flatbread. The complete nCamp Kitchen to Go setup works great for this, given the kneading/rolling-friendly Prep Surface and the broad, stable stovetop.
3/4 cup of flour (whole wheat or white, your choice)
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of water
1 sprig of rosemary
Mix dry ingredients, add water and mix. Heat the olive oil in a pan on the nCamp Stove (low heat with the gas adapter). Pour batter into the pan and spread it out. Cook about 3 minutes on each side (or until lightly browned) and serve.
(If you’re car camping, you can use a heavier skillet such as a cast-iron pan to cook these flatbreads more efficiently; spreading a little oil on one face of the bread when it’s on the pan makes it crispier.)
Written by Ethan Shaw for Matcha in partnership with nCamp.
Featured image provided by nCamp