Campfire cuisine: Eggs and sausage scramble into hearty breakfast
It may not make a whole lot of sense, but camping takes a good deal of energy. Who would think that something so relaxing can also require so much gusto?
But when you factor in the effort of setting up camp, building the campfires, hitting the bike and hiking trails, swimming, fishing (which usually comes after some worm-catching), kayaking and whatever else you made do before an afternoon siesta in the trusty hammock, it is obvious that the best-prepared campers are those who eat a hearty breakfast.Fortunately, it can be pretty simple to start your day with a big meal while using a campfire. In fact, basically anything you can do over a stovetop (or even many of the things that require an oven) can be cooked over a well-crafted and tended campfire.
First things first, it all begins with the right campfire. For more about that, check out my step-by-step process to the perfect campfire.
Our family’s favorite breakfast involves scrambling eggs with various tasty ingredients. It can be easy and yet extremely filling and satisfying. Perhaps it is due to the extra protein a meal like this provides, but it definitely seems to get the motors running before a full day of enjoying the outdoors.
Our breakfast of choice while camping over the Memorial Day weekend involved the following steps (after a good campfire was chugging along):
1. Prepare a metal pan. Your pan should be safe for cooking over a fire … most cheap pans will melt when it meets a well-built campfire.
To reduce charring on the pan that requires extra scrubbing afterward, rub a liberal amount of liquid dish soap over the bottom of the pan before placing over the fire (wrapping in aluminum foil works, too.
2. Fry up the meat. This past weekend, it was loose Jimmy Dean sausage that kicked off our breakfast entree. The process works the same with bacon, ham or other meat-based product (leftover hamburgers or hotdogs?).
Most meats have enough fat and oil in them to eliminate the need for pre-greasing the pan.
The key is to closely monitor heating and to keep stirring. Neglecting to do either will lead to a not-so-tasty foundation to your breakfast plans.
3. Add your veggies. Once the meat is mostly browned, it is typically a safe time to add some color, flavor and character to your meal.
You may be fine with simply scrambling eggs and meat and if so, skip to the next step. However, you’d be impressed with some of the unique flavors you can create simply by frying some onions, green peppers or other ingredients into your breakfast.
My wife loves chopped raw onions on her hot dogs, so when it came time to spice up our breakfast, I simply grabbed the chopped onion container from the mini-fridge we camp with and sprinkled some in. We’re also a fan of green bell peppers, and the sky is the limit after that.
For those who are more adventurous, try mixing in some broccoli or cauliflower or even a few jalapenos. Mushrooms are another unique thing to try.
4. Add the eggs. Once your meat and veggies are well-cooked, it is time to add the eggs. If there is excess grease in your pan, it wouldn’t hurt to drain some off before mixing in the eggs. Your cholesterol levels may thank you later.
Some people prefer to crack and pre-scramble the eggs before cooking, but it works just as well to add each egg and then start mixing as soon as possible.
My favorite weapon here is a long, wooden-handled spatula from our barbecue kit. It has saved me plenty of arm hairs.
5. Add the cheese. Again, an optional ingredient is cheese. In our family, cheese is pretty much mandatory. The staple for scrambling into eggs for us is American cheese, but shredded cheddar or mozzarella can add some nice flavor, too. Provolone is another cheese that I find myself adding to various dishes … I just love the texture and taste.
I like to add cheese right after the eggs and scramble it all together while cooking … it seems to cook more evenly.
6. Enjoy. Once your eggs are scrambled to the desired consistency, remove the pan from the fire and serve while hot.
Even on the warmest summer days, it can be pretty chilly in the early morning hours, and a good warm breakfast can really hit the spot.
If you haven’t checked them out, be sure to read some of our other campfire cuisine posts. One of the most popular so far involved campfire eclairs. We also made some extremely cheesy and tasty homemade macaroni and cheese completely over a campfire and a few open-fire tacos.
What are your favorite meals over a campfire? We’d love to hear about them and try a few out!