Creative Camp Meals – Sauces
One of the most enjoyable things about camping for me is the fun the comes with figuring out what to cook for dinner around the campfire. I used to think that camp meals should be as simple as possible, however, the more I car camped, the more I realized that this doesn’t have to be the case. While weight is an issue while backpacking, those of us who stay close to our vehicles can go all out in terms of delicious meals outdoors.
One of the easiest ways to enhance any meal is to add a sauce. One thing to keep in mind when picking a sauce to cook outside is that minimizing dishes is always in your best interest. For these reasons, sauces that are added to improve an already complete meal are not recommended, since this type of sauce will entail the preparation and creation of an entirely separate dish. Instead pick sauces that are themselves the meal, like pasta sauces or curries. These meals that these sauces create can be made in two or even one pots, making them ideal options for camping.
Here are my recommendations:
Classic Red Sauce: Pasta makes a delicious meal to have after a day of camping. The carbs replenish you while adding a classic red sauce is easy and makes the meal all the more satisfying. One of the best things about this meal is how adaptable it is. Pretty much anything can be added to a red sauce. The carnivorous types can add chicken or ground beef, while an assortment of veggies will enhance the sauce and keep it vegetarian-friendly. In my opinion, the best red sauce has both meat and veggies in it.
Basil Pesto: Those who are tired of the same old that can sometimes be the experience of eating a red sauce should try to spice up their sauces with a pesto. Either purchase or pre-make the pesto, since creating a pesto sauce is something that requires a ton of prep and a blender. The prep is a pain at a campsite, while the blender is quite simply excessive and only possible to use if you have hookups. Furthermore, with pre-made pesto, this will be one of the easiest meals you’ve ever made while camping. Simply cook up your pasta, meat, and veggies, add them all to one pot, mix in the pesto, and enjoy!
Beef Stroganoff: One more pasta meal idea, but this time the recipe is more firmly set. In this sauce should go strip steak, mushrooms, and onion. The sauce itself is made with oil, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable broth or beef stock, and sour cream. If you don’t want to bring an entire container of Worcestershire sauce or sour cream, measure out what you need into a separate container before you leave for your camping trip. Another idea is to bring some bouillon cubes, which can be added to water to make the broth you need. The exact measurements for each ingredient depend on how much you will be making, but Fresh Off the Grid has a great recipe that can help guide you.
Coconut Curry: The only two ingredients that are truly necessary for making coconut curry is coconut milk and Thai red curry paste. Since coconut milk typically comes in a can and Thai red curry paste comes in a small jar, both of these ingredients are incredibly easy to bring with you on a camping trip. The only things you add to the curry can include seasonings, like ginger, garlic, lime, and Asian fish sauce, and ingredients to bulk out the curry like chicken, shrimp, onions, sweet peppers, and chickpeas. What else you add besides coconut milk and Thai red curry paste is therefore completely up to you and your tastes. Made some rice which the curry can be served over top of to complete the meal.
Stir Fry Sauce: This is one of the easiest sauces and meals to make, however it does require some specialty ingredients. These include soy sauce, sesame oil, and oyster sauce, all of which you should be able to find in the Asian section of your local grocery store. Complete the sauce with some chicken or vegetable broth, and then add any other flavorings you want. Two of my particular favorites are fresh ginger and garlic. You will also want to thicken this sauce with some cornstarch or flour, simmering for about 5 minutes. Once the sauce is done, simply add in your stir fry ingredients, cooking in the sauce until done. Remember to cook the raw meat separately then add once it is cooked. Serve with rice for an authentic Asian flavor.
Mole Sauce: This delicious chocolate-based sauce can be served with pretty much any Mexican dish. Mexican food such as burritos, quesadillas, and tacos are a delicious and simple camp meal, and this sauce is a great way to add to that meal. It can even be served alongside rice and beans. I know that suggestion may seem to negate what I wrote earlier about making the sauce the centerpiece of the meal, however the fact that Mexican food is so easy to make while camping makes mole the exception to that rule. Furthermore, the complicated nature of making a mole means that you will probably end up feeling like it is the centerpiece anyway. I’m going to leave the explanation of how to make a mole sauce to the experts by providing this link.
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Finally, a quick note on prepping: with the exception of the stroganoff (which is cheese based), all of these sauces can be prepped at home then rewarmed at the campsite. This can dramatically cut down on the amount of work you have to do while camping, leaving more time to enjoy being in the outdoors. Furthermore, reduces the number of dishes both makes for a better time and safe water, a precious commodity to those living on the road for extended periods. If you’re prepping for a long camping trip, also think about making then freezing one or two sauces. Not only will this allow you to prep for a longer period of time, but the sauce will work as an extra ice pack in your cooler. Once the sauce melts you’ll know it’ll be time to make that meal.