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Tin Foil Dinner

28 September 2008

(This post was originally published here as part of the Whip It Up Challenge)

It’s that time again, time to pretend that I know my way around a kitchen, and time for ya’ll to pretend to be interested in my sometimes pathetic forays into domesticity. Now, I’m not typically the camping type, at least not so much as an adult. I don’t mind tents and campfire and scurry little critters for an overnight adventure, but much longer than that and I really start to crave a hot shower. At any rate, this week I found myself “chaperoning” my favorite group of high school students on an overnight camping trip. It’s a long story on how, exactly, I managed to end up there, but the cookery that was involved should be documented. I decided to make a classic, no-fuss, Tin Foil Dinner. I have seen these babies made a million times in a million different ways, but I have yet to put my own together and then carefully tend the thing whilst it cooks on hot coals. So, I figure it counts, right?

For those non-camping savvy individuals, a Tin Foil dinner is typically some kind of meat and veggies with a bit of sauce, wrapped in a couple of layers of tin-foil and then slow-roasted over a dying campfire. According to my experience, the hour-long wait for appropraite coals (must be white, not orange, and no flames) and the hour-long wait for cooking will guarantee that regardless of your Tin Foil Mastery, this dinner will taste fantastic.

The recipe will be after the break without any of my afterthought improvements; here’s the nitty gritties:

  • Total Prep-Time: 15 minutes to put together, about an hour to cook.
  • Was the recipe easy to follow: Yes.
  • Are the ingredients easy to find: Yes.
  • Do you need special equipment: Does a smoldering campfire count as special equipment? If so, then yes.
  • Does the end result taste delicious: It was ok, I would have added more seasonings; onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Also bell peppers would have been fantastic, and perhaps cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken, and maybe some chives, and…hmmm, I must make these again with some improvements.
  • Would I make it again: Yes, and I may try steak instead of ground beef. Or chicken with BBQ sauce and pineapple…who wants to go camping?
  • Anything Else: Make sure you have marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate so you can whip up some s’mores while you’re waiting for your dinner. And then again after your dinner.

Tin Foil Dinner: Basic Recipe
(Makes 2)

1 pound ground beef
2-3 large baking potatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 large carrot, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 TB minced garlic
Salt/Pepper to taste
2/3 cup Cream of Chicken Soup

Tin foil

Spread out two generous sized pieces of tin-foil for each dinner, you’ll want to make sure you have enough to wrap completely around the finished pile of meat and veggies. Divide the hamburger into two portions and form into patties and place in the center of your tin foil. Cover each patty with onion, garlic, salt & pepper and any other seasonings you like–I used Lawry’s Season Salt and some Steak Seasoning.

Then you want to divide the chopped potatoes and carrots between the two dinners; if you keep things more-or-less in a pile it will make the wrapping up step a bit easier. Cover your pile of veggies with a big dollop of sauce, I used Cream of Chicken Soup right out of the can.

At this point you can re-season adding more salt or pepper or whatever spices you like. Now it’s time to wrap up your dinner. While you cook this you’ll put the veggie side on the coals with the meat part facing up, keep that in mind whilst your wrapping. I asked my brother for the appropriate Tin Foil Technique, and according to him you need to treat your dinner more like the contents of an envelope and less like a baked potato. Fold in the long-sides of foil, bring the short-sides together and roll them together down towards your dinner. You may need to add an extra layer of foil to make sure all your filling is covered in foil.

That’s it, your dinner is done. Well, it’s put together. The cooking part took forever! It’s best to have white-hot coals and, depending on how hot those coals are, your dinner will probably take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. You will probably want BBQ tongs to flip your dinner over occasionally, and you can check your progress by taking it out, unwrapping and testing one of the potatoes; when the veggies are soft and the meat is browned your dinner is done. And you’ll probably be starving, so I hope you enjoy your meal.

Does anyone else have good recipes for camping?

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