For most of us, camp cooking starts out as skewering a hot dog to the end of a stick and holding it in the flames. But anybody who's progressed beyond that has likely cooked in foil. Foil cooking is among the earliest outdoor skills many of us learn.
There are lots of benefits to cooking in foil pouches. Prep work can be done ahead of time, for instance, and then you just carry the packs ready to pop on the fire. Most food cooked in foil does not need to be minded, so you can take part in other activities until it's ready. And, with a supply of foil packs made at home it's easy to give people choices. Maybe you're in the mood for fish, for instance. But the kids want chicken. Normally that would be a hassle. But with foil cooking you just pick and choose the meal that appeals.
Contrary to what many think, foil cooking is not limiting. Almost anything you'd cook at home can be done in foil pouches on a campfire. Think in terms of cooking en papillote, and you realize how haute you can be.
Foil cooking can be done right over the flames. But most of the time you want to elevate the packets a few inches over hot coals, just as you would with a backyard grill.
Whenever feasible, I prefer precutting meat and fowl protein. For instance, I'll package slices of chicken, rather than wrapping a whole breast. This makes it both easier to wrap, and speeds the cooking process. But there's no reason not to use whole cuts if that's your preference.
Foil should always be greased before adding foodstuff. At home, butter works fine. But in camp that can get to be awkward, and spray oil works better.
The number one secret of foil cooking is to be sure the packets are sealed properly. For that you use the so-called drugstore wrap. As with other things, it's easier to do than to describe. Basically it's just a set of double folds, starting at the top of the packet, then doing the sides in turn.
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
Recipe: Minted Yogurt Chicken
Recipe: Squash Medley
Recipe: Pears With Blue Cheese & Cherries
For more foil cooking tips, techniques, and recipes, visit our friends at The Outdoor Sports Advisor