Northside SF  

October '09

The Kitchenless Cook
Wanna go camping?
By Bill Knutson

My friend Mira was telling me about a camping trip she was planning with some friends and how she somehow got nominated to take care of the food and wine for the trip. Mira is quite a good cook at home, so she wanted to serve something better than hot dogs and canned beans. But she was uneasy because she had never grilled over a fire pit, and she was concerned about keeping the food fresh over a few days. So I offered to help Mira with a few of my favorite camping recipes, which can either be prepared ahead and carried in or are easy to prepare at the campsite.

The first recipe for game hens is a pretty classic take on poultry and could be done with chicken pieces too. Packed frozen in a cooler, they will thaw within the first 24 hours of your trip and should be cooked soon after, so I usually make this the first or second day.

For the next night, serve the tri-tip teriyaki kebabs. The ingredients will also thaw within a day, but will hold fine if kept cold, and the flavor will just get better the longer the mixture marinates.

Now for the side dishes, the first is an easy pasta salad that can be made in advance and packed in the cooler. For the second side dish, I went to one of my old standbys, Clearlake Potatoes. No, the potatoes are not from Clearlake, just the recipe. My family has been making some variation of this recipe for 40 years, and the nice thing is you can make it different every time by using a different type of potato or seasoning. This is good for camping because the only ingredient that needs to be kept cool is the butter, and the most important thing is the butter. You must make sure you don’t skimp on the butter.

Of course you can’t enjoy these fine meals with a tin cup of camp coffee, so you need to bring along some fine wines. Nobody wants to lug a bunch  of bottles in and out of camp or deal with the possibility of broken glass, so my recommendation is Bandit Pinot Grigio. Not only will it pair with all these dishes quite well, it also comes in a very practical carton that is much lighter than glass and will flatten out nicely for packing back out. The cartons come in one-half and one-liter sizes, and if Pinot Grigio is not your favorite varietal, they also make Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


Rock Cornish Game Hens
Serves 6

3 game hens, split in half
2 cups white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon thyme

Combine all ingredients in a large, resealable plastic bag and freeze. Thaw and grill about 20-25 minutes per side. Chicken is done when the skin is a nice, crispy brown and the legs move easily when you shake them.

Teriyaki Tri-Tip Steak Kebabs
Serves 6

1½–3-pound tri-tip roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sake or white wine
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 can of pineapple chunks
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
Bamboo skewers
Combine all ingredients in a large, resealable plastic bag and freeze. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least an hour to keep them from burning. Skewer the ingredients and cook over the flames until the beef is slightly charred.

Clearlake Potatoes
Serves 6

4 medium potatoes
1 medium sweet onion
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cube of butter
Aluminum foil

Spread out a sheet of aluminum foil approximately 16 inches long. Halve the potatoes lengthwise and then cut into quarter-inch slices. Spread out on aluminum foil. Chop onion and garlic and distribute evenly over potatoes. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and chili powder. Cut the butter into quarter-inch slices and distribute evenly over the top of the potatoes. Spread out another sheet of equal length aluminum foil over the top and roll all the edges up to create a sealed envelope. Place the package on the grill, but not directly over the flame. Cook indirectly for approximately 45 minutes. Do not turn over. Carefully remove from the grill and pour contents into a bowl and serve.

Pasta Salad
Serves 6

1 package rotelle pasta
½ pound Crimini mushrooms
2 bell peppers
1 can artichoke hearts
1 jar julienne cut sun-dried
tomatoes in olive oil
2 bottles roasted garlic

Cook pasta per instructions on package. The pasta should be a little firmer for salad. Rinse in cold water to cool. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Cut the bell peppers into one-inch strips. Slice the artichoke hearts into thirds. Combine ingredients and add one bottle of salad dressing to coat. Add more dressing to taste just before serving.

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