Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Roughing It

As stated in a previous post, twice a year I look forward to going up to my cousin's cabin to goof off in earnest. The ATF would have a field day with our festivities because they hit on each of their favorite points oh-so-many times a day. However, while all the rednecks are out there tearing up the countryside and shooting animals, we slightly better rednecks turn our aggravation inwards, smoking, drinking, and eating our way through the weekend.

Some people, when they go camping, don't even bring a fork. I guess they think that food will just fall into their mouths wherever they go. My sister and her boyfriend just recently started bringing lamps with them when they go camping. In all seriousness though, most of the folks that join us on these trips bring nothing but cigarettes and their share of the keg money and just think that's how it works. Not me and E. This time I brought a whole bed complete with duvet cover and a solar shower for when the propane shower runs out of hot water. We also brought a massive feast.

For my own part, I like to make a phat dinner on one of the nights that we're there, not just to try out my cooking skills, but to test them as applied to a large group. You cook differently for 15 people than you do for six, and Dutch ovens are a great way to address this issue.

E and I set up a menu that took into consideration everyone's dietary concerns and the fact that they would be incredibly hungry. On tap for the evening were:

  • Vegetarian Dutch oven stew
  • Meat Dutch oven stew
  • Drunken Duck
  • Lobster Bisque
  • Dessert: Dutch oven peach cobbler

We forgot to bring the mushroom stock up with us so we had to start that on Friday night to be ready for the Saturday festivities. I bought four portobello mushrooms and began roasting them, then combined them with the tops of all the vegetables we pre-prepped for the next day (including parsnips, turnips, onions, potatoes, leeks, etc.) Boiled this down over one of my camp stoves for about an hour then reserved the juice and threw out the detritous.

The next day was shotgun and dinner day. Before we left to go shooting, I had started a boneless leg of lamb over some mesquite with instructions to the stay-beninds to take it off the heat if it started getting too smoky. We both had very good luck with the shotgun, with me shooting 4/5 clay pigeons down.

Right, E. shows the clay pigeons that she means business. Above, the lamb begins its journey into our GI tracts.

We returned to camp before all of the others to tend to the food. While I was slow-roasting the lamb I thought I'd prep the duck as well. We used some abbey ale in the drunken duck can as chimay was unavailable, and we were too far away from Fort Bragg to obtain some of our favorite Belgian-style ale, Old Coast Ale.

Then, to ensure proper cooking of the whole bird (this was a muscovy duck and far more fatty than the liberty duck I prepared in the post below), I build up a Korean flag-style circle of bricks around the quacker. These bricks got very hot and hit the duck from all sides with heat. When we pulled it off it was a gorgeous brown and completely done:

First to go was the lobster bisque. I'd like to say I caught the lobsters and cooked them myself, but of course I didn't. It was just a Heinz soup mix (we have a friend who is a restaurant supplier) that you add a gallon of whole milk to. People seemed to really enjoy it although I wasn't into it at all. Lobster is probably my favorite food, and Heinz should stay away from it.
Next, E and I got about the business of doing the Dutch ovens in earnest. Into the meat oven went stock I made from the drunken duck below, root vegetables, savory vegetables, and herbs. After the meat oven had boiled for about half an hour, E put a bunch of dumpling mix that she had made from scratch on top. Only the lucky ended up getting one of these, but the lucky turned out to be 95% of the campers. Much to the vegetarians' delight, we ended up serving them first as their oven was done cooking first. Next came the meat oven, and we essentially had to fight people off of it. Yeah, it was damned good.

After that we turned our attentions to the portion of the lamb that didn't make it into the pot and the duck. We threw both of these back on the grill for a few minutes then cut them and served them. People jumped all over it.
Next E washed out the veggie oven and began her cobbler. The peaches were a little worse for wear, having been in a cooler for a day with a bunch of heavier, less bruisable items. But we pulled through and managed to serve almost everyone a large slice of cobbler from the small, 8-quart Dutch oven.

The next day, we rested. But, we did help our friend Brad make his oh-so-Atkins friendly 'super chicken'. It's a breast of chicken pounded flat then wrapped around cream cheese and chives. About this you wrap 3 strips of bacon. Owch.
I made brad put five strips of bacon around mine because I wasn't sure that my heart had had enough punishment over the weekend. We joked that the next step would be to cut the chicken into rounds, then batter and fry them and top with chocolate. Maybe next time.


Blogger drbiggles said...

I think maybe if I had a weber table, I would be more inclinded to use my weber grill.
I haven't done a lot of camping in the last 10 years (babies), but the boys are getting older now. I've got a 1-ton 12 passenger (for sale) van I usually fill up with all the necessities, perfect size for everyone and every thing.
We went to Lake Chabot for a night last year and the ranger loved my "old school" tent and made a few comments throughout the day. It's just my tent man, we sleep in it.
How'd the clean up go?

3:40 PM  

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