The Gourmet Outdoor Camp Kitchen

The outdoor camp kitchen conjures up images of cold nights, hot dogs, and marshmallows over an open camp fire. While these traditions should be included in the family camping experience, the options for the camp kitchen are limitless with preparation and imagination.

Before we get to the gear, let’s talk about preparation and planning. You will be amazed at the culinary delights you can create in the camp kitchen even with the limited refrigeration in many travel trailers and RVs. The first step is the math of how many meals you will be preparing and how many people you will be serving during the camping trip. Second, understanding the type of meals you will be preparing each time taking into account ages and any dietary restrictions. Lastly, planning the timing and throughput of your kitchen.

Philly Cheese Steak is always a hit and you can cook the vegetables separate from the steak for any kids in the camp they may prefer the plain version. I prepared the peppers and onions in advance before the trip. I placed the refrigerated steaks in the RV freezer for twenty minutes which allows you to slice with ease.  In addition to my two burner camp stove, I also packed a single burner and several cast iron skillets to prepare the meal and toast the buns. The cast iron enhanced the flavor and added a slight char to the thinly sliced ribeye steaks. Cast iron also makes sautéing and toasting the buns a breeze, and can be used over an open campfire if available.

How about a tasty red wine beef stew for an adult crowd? On this particular weekend we knew it was going to be cold and we were going to be serving seven for dinner. Prior to the trip I prepped many of the ingredients in advance. I chopped the vegetables, parboiled the potatoes, and trimmed and cubed the chuck roast.  These were  carefully packed in containers and iced in a cooler the morning of departure leaving the RV refrigerator free to hold other items for the trip. Using a large Dutch oven cast iron pot I prepared the stew from browning the meat to finishing the dish.

One of the biggest challenges is timing and throughput, especially for a crowd. When planning the meal for seven adults I chose a meal I could prepare with a single pot. By taking this approach I could scale up or down as needed. Thinking through the size of the crowd, the timing of each step, and equipment needed. Many campsites will have fire rings with grill grates or a charcoal grill making cast iron pots and pans an ideal choice. With a camp stove, cast iron and carbon steel make the restaurant quality meals a reality. When selecting a camp stove be mindful of the BTU per burner, this can impact high heat preparations and boiling times. A sturdy camp stove table is a key item for the camp kitchen for both the camp stove storage for pots, pans, and utensils. A few extras I would recommend is a prep table, a propane tree to be placed on a propane tank for a lantern, and a quality cooler.

If you have the right gear and plan ahead, the camp kitchen can go from plain to restaurant quality meals without limits. Properly scaling your camp kitchen and preparing in advance for each meal make the camp chef job a breeze. For my recipes for Beef Stew and Philly Cheese Steak visit my blog: https://familymancook.wordpress.com 

This post was written by Paul Elmore of The Family Man Cook. You can follow his adventures on his blogFacebook and Instagram.

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