Campfire fare that stands the test of time

For seasoned and novice campers alike, Ontario’s provincial parks hold cherished memories for generations of visitors.

And while modern-day camping features feather-light freestanding tents, fuel efficient radiant burner cookstoves that boil water in 90 seconds, and electronic gadgets that take campground games like Hide and Go Seek (a.k.a. geocaching) to New Ager heights, basic camp kitchen equipment has stood the test of time.

And, with good reason!

Cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens, for example, withstand the blistering heat of an open fire, hold their own surrounded by hot coals, and are well-weighted for cooking atop a single burner butane stove.

Enameled steel cookware, cooking utensils and dinnerware are also built to last and can take extreme heat changes without compromising form or function.

So, with yesteryear in mind, and Ontario Parks celebrating its 125th anniversary, here are two timeless camp-worthy recipes created in today’s pre-seasoned cast iron cookware.

Campfire Skillet Breakfast

(serves 2)

  • 3 tbsp rendered bacon fat (alternatively, use vegetable oil), divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 package (500g) frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 2 breakfast sausages
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • Grilled flour tortillas, for serving

In a cast iron skillet set over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of bacon fat and heat to shimmering. Then add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add potatoes in a single layer and cook according to package directions until crisp and golden.

Move potato-onion mixture to one side of skillet, add sausages, and cook according to package directions.

Move sausages to one side, melt remaining 1 tablespoon bacon fat and heat to shimmering, then crack eggs into skillet and cook to desired doneness. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately, sided by warm, grilled tortillas. 

Beef Roulade Rolls

(Serves 4)

  • 1 thick (about 1 ½-inches) top sirloin steak, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices, pounded into 3 inch long strips
  • 1 box store-bought stuffing mix, prepared according to package directions and cooled
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp rendered bacon fat (alternatively, use vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Place one tbsp prepared stuffing at one end of a beef strip, roll up and secure with a toothpick.

Repeat process with remaining beef strips and stuffing.

Lightly dust roulade rolls with flour and set aside.

In a cast iron 3-l Dutch oven set over medium heat, melt bacon fat and heat until shimmering.

In batches, brown roulade rolls on all sides, then transfer to a rimmed dish and set aside.

To Dutch oven, add onion and sauté 5 minutes, stirring often, then add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Return roulade rolls to pot, add beef stock and rosemary and stir gently to combine.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and continue cooking over medium-low heat until beef is fork-tender, about 45 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with cooking juices spooned over top. Serve with steamed vegetables, if desired.