This summer has been a strange one so when our annual camping trip came around, I was both nervous and excited. Nervous…the virus…need I say more? And excited…I really needed to get out of the house before I lost my mind.
If you do have the opportunity to go camping this summer, go for it. Easy to physical distance and just wear a mask if you do come in contact with others, which wasn’t very often. Camping cleared my mind and gave it a rest from the sensory overload that is my life. I spent a week without news, emails, social media, and work, and gained a week of books, floats on the river, and s’mores, which leads me to the point of this blog. Cooking!
Cooking at camp has been a love/hate relationship for me. I want to try all these fancy meals (oh someday I’ll make a dutch oven cake!), but there are a few complications. The dust. The wind. The bees. Oh, the bees! My nemeses while cooking. Plus our camp stove takes forever to heat up anything. What’s this girl to do?
My strategy is to make our dinners at home and heat them up on the stove. I found the perfect recipe for such a situation: Campfire Stew. I made it for this past camping trip for the first time and it was delicious. I just wish I had remembered to take pictures of me heating it up on our old-school Coleman camp stove, but I was distracted by the dust, wind, and bees. “Damn you bees!” as I shake my fist at them.
Start out by cooking whole chicken thighs seasoned with salt and pepper for about 7 minutes until there’s a nice golden brown sear on them. Flip and throw in some chopped onions and minced garlic.
Cook for another 7 minutes until the thighs are cooked through. You will be cooking them a little more, but they shouldn’t be raw. BTW, thighs are really forgiving, especially compared to breasts, which dry up if you cook them just a tiny bit too long.
When the chicken is cooked, chop it up into large chunks. At this point, I let it cool and put it in a Ziploc bag. At camp, I will heat up the chicken, add the rest of the ingredients, dodge the bees, and serve. You could do this at home, which for purposes of this blog, I’ll show you what comes next.
Place the chicken back in the skillet, and add seasonings and canned tomatoes. Stir. Add sliced olives and beans.
Stir again and simmer until it’s heated through. Take a picture. Ignore that your kid photo-bombed your photo. The food still tastes good.
For camp cooking, some might say this looks fancy (work with me here…it looks fancy when served in a disposable plastic bowl along with the finest white plastic cutlery).
It’s not the same as grilling a hot dog on a stick (which is amazing in its own right), but this stew is very tasty without a lot of work. I’m impressed at how the flavors meld together without a lot of cooking time. Just a few basic ingredients becomes a quick, delicious meal. Now I have more time to float in the river.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 15 ounces diced canned tomatoes
- 2 1/4 ounces canned sliced olives well drained
- 15 ounces canned cannellini beans do not drain
- Heat oil in a skillet. Salt and pepper the chicken. Cook chicken for about 7 minutes. Flip and add onionis and garlic. When chicken is cooked through and the onions are slightly softened, remove chicken from skillet and cut into large chunks.
- Add the chicken back in the skillet. Add thyme, mint, oregano, and tomatoes. Stir. Add olives and beans. Stir. Simmer until heated through.