When tasked with providing food for a camping trip, a touch more preparation and planning must take place. When tasked with doing a Thanksgiving dinner while camping, excitement and even more planning takes place. My good friends at The Outbound, a collective of outdoor professionals and enthusiasts, asked me to help them conduct a 'Camp'Giving (I made this up, I'm not sure who has ownership of it, so Im taking credit!). A great team of enthusiastic outdoorsy new friends were assembled for a trek in the Redwoods of Northern California. And I was to take care of the dinner. Turkey and all the trimmings. This is no easy task in a normal kitchen, let alone camping! Luckily, I had some help in a big 'ol BBQ rig and some propane burners. I did my best to design the dishes to be approachable and easy enough to execute. A lot of heavy lifting was done the day before; chopping, marinating, and packaging all vegetables, meats, and seasonings. Check out the full lineup below! (Cover photo by Adam Wells)
BBQ'd Achiote Turkey - Pulling off a Thanksgiving style turkey while your camping is no easy task. To make matters easier, and also to prepare for the unknown, I did a lot of prep on the turkey before we headed outdoors. First, I broke down the turkey into its respective pieces. Then it was marinated overnight in the achiote mixture.
The achiote mixture was lightly heated in a sauce pan before marinating. This ensures the paste is easily broken up. You can also use a blender to get everything nice and smooth.
On site, a good amount of foil and foil pans were used to help act as a mini 'oven.' I wrapped just the massive turkey breasts in foil, keeping the heat concentrated as well as keeping precious juices in as well.
Cast Iron Bacon Brussel Sprouts - Brussel sprouts are such a great camping vegetable. They are durable, hearty, and can take a good variance in temperatures while cooking, thus making it a wonderful ingredient to use over a camp fire bbq. I started by cooking some bacon in the cast iron to flavor my brussels. Then added the sprouts and coated them in the bacon grease. Let those cook for about 15-20 minutes. Also, I let the brussels sit and get a little charring on some of their outer leaves. Once the brussels were cooked, I added a little dijon vinaigrette over the top to add some acid. This dish could probably be a meal in itself!
Smashed Fingerling Potatoes with Chives - Can't have Thanksgiving with out potatoes. This is such an easy camping dish. Plus if there are leftovers, you have a great breakfast dish!
Instead of roasting the potatoes, I boiled them for about 25-30 minutes with a little salt. Drained the water and transferred the potatoes to a foil pan. I took a fork and lightly smashed the potatoes, basically just popping them open. Sprinkled some more salt, a healthy handful of chopped chives, and a couple nice big forkfuls of butter.
Butternut Squash with Chard & Spices - To make it easier on this dish, I pre-cut all of the squash and chard. This made it nice and easy to cook everything. I transferred all of the squash and a little oil and salt to a dutch oven and cooked it over a camp stove for about 20 minutes, until the squash was soft-ish. At the stage where the squash is just about al dente I added a good amount of nutmeg, cayenne, fresh rosemary and sage. Then added in the chopped chard and covered the pot. The chard cooks down fast, so only covered for about 2-3 minutes. This dish is as tasty as it is colorful!
Green Beans & Charred Carrots - Green beans are such a classic Thanksgiving side that I felt it wouldn't be a proper spread without them. But I also wanted to make this dish a touch different. Recently my lady has been obsessed with roasted carrots, and I have been adding them to many menus. Over the summer I played around with cooking the carrots on an open flame and the result was awesome. By letting the carrots get a little char, it brigs out more sweetness and adds a wonderful smokey flavor to the sweet root. By adding these to green beans, it just elevates and makes this vegetable side so much better. The last layer of flavor was some fresh herbs. I used chives and a sprinkle of parsley.
Butter Braised Radish - Simplicity at its best. I learned this dish from an old co-worker and have been going to it ever since. Whole radishes, on a cast iron over high medium, with a good chunk of butter. You can totally neglect this dish and it will still taste good. The radishes are like a burst of flavor in your mouth. A perfect palate cleanser in between rich bites of turkey.
After six years in the kitchen and many extraordinary events, Kellan has become more than a chef, he’s cooking up experiences. From small intimate dinner parties, cooking lessons, and family meals to large corporate bar-b-ques, beer dinners, and holiday soirées, the Kitchen has it covered. Kellan and crew are not just cooks and servers, they’re hosts, cocktail gurus, and burgeoning sommeliers. With a focus always on the food, Kellan’s Kitchen also pays great attention to hosting, vibe, comfort and the vision of the host. Everyone must walk out with a smile, full belly, and sometimes a nice buzz.