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Turn Your Campfire into a 5-Star Culinary Experience in Shiny Foil Packages

Turn Your Campfire into a 5-Star Culinary Experience in Shiny Foil Packages

One of the early skills girls learn as beginning Girl Scouts is how to make dinner over a campfire using aluminum foil. That simple recipe – chicken, carrots, potatoes and secret sauce (cream of mushroom soup) – taught meal preparation skills, proper use of kitchen utensils, sanitary food handling and the satisfaction of enjoying a meal they made themselves.

Using foil to fix dinner is not a new concept, but with creativity, meal preparation is both easy and tasty. An online search can find dozens of recipes using foil wrapped ingredients to create appetizers, entrees, side dishes and even desserts. There are many reasons why this is a great concept for camping or RVing, including the ease of cleanup, quick portion sizing, individual taste and allergy considerations, and cooking outdoors to keep the interior of the RV cooler. There is also a scientific explanation that explains why food cooked this way tastes better.

Aluminum foil has been around for decades, an invention that was considered revolutionary at the time. It was invented and patented in 1895 and manufactured for the first time in 1910. Today a kitchen staple, it is engineered to tolerate high cooking temperatures and extreme cold. The foil package allows the ingredients to cook with steam heat instead of direct heat, a culinary approach that produces moister meats and tender vegetables.

The premise of the foil packages or foil pouch meals is simple. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil. Prepare your meat or protein, add vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, potatoes, corn, and so forth, and add a sauce of some type. Ingredients should be placed in the center of the sheet of foil. Bring the two sides of the foil up to meet at the top, and fold down twice. Then fold the two open ends twice to completely enclose food.

The foil pouches are then placed on a grill or in the ashes to cook slowly over time. Foil pouch recipes also work well in the oven.

This easy application allows campfire chefs a lot of creativity when it comes to making these meals interesting. For example, make Sesame Ginger Salmon for a main dish meal that cooks in 20 minutes on the grill. Or take the ingredients in sweet potato casserole, transfer these into a foil pouch and cook up a tasty side dish. Craving something sweet? How about individual servings of apple pie wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill?

Here are some helpful suggestions to make your foil pouch cooking efforts more satisfying.

  • Make it non-stick: Use cooking spray to lightly coat the side of the aluminum foil that touches the food. If using non-stick aluminum foil, the non-shiny side is the side that is treated. Other options for providing the non-stick technique is butter, olive oil or other vegetable oils.
  • Opt for heavy-duty: While foil pouches can be made with any type of foil, the heavy-duty variety provides a stronger package to cook your meal in. Especially if you will be moving your packets around the campfire while they cook, a heavier foil is more durable. For added security, double wrap it. The key to the moistness of these meals is to keep the juices inside the packet.
  • Seal it well: Because these meals use steam to cook, a well-sealed foil package is much more efficient and results in tastier fare. Be sure to release as much air as possible to minimize expansion of the foil packet while cooking.
  • Move it, don’t leave it: While this cooking technique does not require very much physical exertion – not like hand-whipping cream or flambéing cherries jubilee – it does require that you move the packets around to equalize cooking. Turning the packets over while cooking or moving these from one side of the grill to another ensures an even cook of the contents inside. When moving the packets from side to side or from grill to plates, be gentle. Aluminum is strong, but it is not impenetrable. Ripping or tearing the packets allows the juices to flow out and can result in a dry-textured entrée or loss of flavor. An oven mitt or kitchen tongs works well.
  • Open carefully: The contents of these packages are hot. Open slowly and carefully, to allow time for the steam to release. Tearing off a corner or unwrapping just a small section serves this purpose and keeps the food hot without burning the fingers and hands of your dinner guests.
  • Adjust cooking time: Cooking food on a grill, over an open fire or in the ashes is different than cooking the same meal in an oven. Food on a grill or open fire will cook slightly slower than it will in an oven. Depending on the heat of the ash, cooking can be faster or slower than usual. Adjust your recipe cooking time to match the cooking method.

Sesame Ginger Salmon

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 sheets of non-stick aluminum foil
  • 4 thin onion slices, separated in rings
  • 2 medium carrots, cut in julienne strips or shredded
  • 4 salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz. each), thawed
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F or grill to medium-high (about 425°F)
  2. CENTER one-fourth of onion slices and carrots on each sheet of foil. Place the salmon filets on top. Sprinkle with ginger. Drizzle the vinegar and sesame oil over filets. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. WRAP securely in foil, double fold at the top and ends. Repeat for each of the four packets.
  4. BAKE 16 to 20 minutes on a cookie sheet in oven or GRILL 14 to 18 minutes in a covered grill.

Apple Pie in a Packet

INGREDIENTS

Apple Mixture

  • 2 medium to large sized apples diced into approximately 1/4" pieces
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cold butter cut into small pieces, approximately 1/8"
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping Mixture

  • 1/4 cup quick cook oats or old-fashioned oats for a chewier texture
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces, approximately 1/8"

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. PREHEAT grill to medium heat or preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. PREPARE four pieces of 12"x18" non-stick foil
  3. COMBINE: diced apples and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Add in cornstarch, sugars, ground cinnamon and butter.
  4. MIX well. Set aside.
  5. COMBINE oats, flour, brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a second bowl. Mix well.
  6. ADD butter to mixture and cut in with a pastry cutter or two forks.
  7. CENTER half of the apple mixture onto one of the non-stick foil sheets.
  8. SPRINKLE half of the crumb mixture over the apples.
  9. SEAL foil packet tightly, making sure all sides are securely closed.
  10. REPEAT process for each serving.
  11. PLACE packet on grill or over campfire for approximately 8-12 minutes, or place on cookie sheet and bake in oven for approximately 15 minutes.
  12. REMOVE from heat and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes.
  13. SERVE with ice cream, if desired.
Aug 14th 2020 Lois Tomaszewski

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