Campfire cuisine: Making memories with mountain pies
A writer with a pencil (or pen or laptop). A carpenter with a hammer. A Little Leaguer tightening a grip on his Louisville Slugger.
We can call these tools of the trade, and we culinary campfire chefs have a few of our own.
But few few of those tools are more useful and necessary in your campfire cuisine arsenal than the mountain pie iron.
The concept is very simple. Two cast iron “pans” are joined with a metal hinge. Wooden handles cover metal shafts that run into the cast iron cooking section.
The contraption provides a neat cooking utensil that heats food fairly thoroughly, especially if you keep turning the pie iron regularly over the heat.
You don’t need a grill to cook with a pie iron — you can actually place it directly into the coals. Just be sure to keep adjusting it, flipping the iron regularly so that food cooks evenly without burning.
The options of what you can cook in a mountain pie iron are nearly endless. The standards include the tried-and-true grilled cheese, various forms of pizza and regular pies with many different variations. We’ve used our mountain pie irons to cook breakfast items and grill toppings for pizza, among other things.
If treated correctly, the cast iron portions of the pie iron are pretty well non-stick. However, the basics of mountain pie cooking involve two pieces of bread with something cooked inside. Much like when making a grilled cheese, it is a good idea to start with spreading a layer of butter on the outside of each piece of bread — the parts that touch the actual pie iron.
Once they are laid out, butter side down into the two sides of the mountain pie iron, you can add whatever filling you’d desire. During a recent camping trip, we simply added some blueberry pie filling.
Then it is simply a matter of closing the pie iron and cooking over a campfire. The key to making your creation to perfection and not burning it comes in constant checking and turning. The closer to the actual coals, the quicker it will char, so be diligent. It could be the difference between a tasty meal and ending up with a charcoal briquette.
With fruit pies, we’ve found the perfect way to top them off is with a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar. Of course, you can tweak however you’d prefer and season with cinnamon or whatever else suits your fancy.
I’ll have more posts soon about mountain pie variations. The iron really came in handy recently when we forgot our regular campfire pan and needed to whip up some breakfast.
Hungry for more? Be sure to check out these other Campfire Cuisine adventures in cooking over an open fire: