Campfire cuisine: Traditional breakfast done ‘over-easy’ on an open fire
There are few things more satisfying after a brisk night of camping than a hearty, warm breakfast cooked over the campfire.
And while the greasy meats and eggs that like to stick to pans can cause a real mess when frying up breakfast at home, the meal is simplified when you are cooking outdoors over a well-built campfire.As with our other campfire cuisine articles, it all starts with the proper campfire. I share in this post how to build one that will generate consistent heat that will make your cooking outdoors so much easier.
Another tool of the cooking-over-a-fire trade is a sturdy metal rack. There are all sorts of varieties that can work well, and they cover a wide spectrum of price ranges. I’ve even heard of people that use old metal spoked refrigerator shelves and rig them up over a fire. I personally wouldn’t recommend this because no one really knows just how campfire-friendly the paint is on a rack created to be used inside a refrigerator. I’m guessing there could be a few unwanted fumes that could taint your food.
My campfire companion is the metal rack shown above that was created by my brother with direction from my wife as a Christmas gift several years ago. The custom-welded unit is conveniently held together by a few wingnuts that make it easy to disassemble and transport in even the smallest of car trunks — even the hatchback. A series of notches allow me to adjust the height of the cooking surface, which is a huge help when switching between foods that need a little extra heat and those which need less flames to roast to perfection.
I’m sure you are jealous, and a few of you may be quoting Adam Sandler in “Billy Madison” right now. Yes, I have a nice rack, thank you very much.
The actual cooking is pretty simple once you have the proper heat and rack in place. Bacon can be cooked directly on the rack or in a campfire safe pan (one that won’t melt with the extra heat involved). Remember that to keep the bottom of any pan from gaining a hard-t0-clean black film on the bottom while cooking, simply cover it with a sheet of foil or wipe liquid dish soap on with a paper towel before applying it to the heat.
Bacon is thin enough that it won’t take long to cook, especially since the fat/grease drippings will feed the fire and cause higher flames and extra heat while cooking. Be sure to monitor the bacon and turn often to avoid burning. A long set of barbecue grill tongs are a great way to tend to the bacon or sausage without singeing your arm hairs.
Yet another way to cook your favorite breakfast meat is to tightly wrap it in aluminum foil, much like the foil pack meals we featured previously. This helps reduce the odds of burning (again, it requires regular turning and adjustment to cook thoroughly) and allows the meat to marinade more in its natural juices.
Cooking eggs can be accomplished in numerous ways, as well. One of our family’s favorite ways to do this is to scramble them in a large pan/skillet and add in cheese, meats, peppers, onions, etc. More about that type of open-fire breakfast can be found here.
For a more traditional sunny-side-up, over-easy or “dippy” style breakfast egg, you can cook using any fire-safe pan, griddle, skillet, etc. On one camping trip this summer, my family forgot the usual pans we use, so we improvised using one side of a double mountain pie maker as a way to cook our eggs. You can see the process in the photo above.
Toast over a campfire is possibly the easiest thing you’ll ever cook — especially if you have a rack at your disposal. I simply take a few pieces right out of the bag and place them on the open grilling surface of the rack over the fire. Turning the bread regularly with a large barbecue spatula keeps it from burning and it won’t take long to get the toast a perfect golden brown. Slap on some butter or other toppings and you are ready to enjoy.
There are many other ways to tackle a traditional breakfast while cooking outdoors. What are your favorite ways to utilize a campfire while preparing your breakfast? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Check out some of our other favorite campfire cuisine treats: