Campfire Cooking at Quihi
My buddy Scott has some land near the village of Quihi in the South Texas brush country. Quihi was named after the Caracara, a large bird of South Texas and Mexico. The Caracara is also known as the white-necked Mexican eagle buzzard or Quichie. The Alsatian settlers in the area had trouble pronouncing Quichie so it became "Quihi".
Several times a year when there is a bright, "Comanche" moon, Scott, Richard and myself camp out for a couple of nights. This is a guy thing -- no girls allowed. We sit and talk about lawnmowers, chainsaws, airplanes and other things "guy". Of course, campfire cooking is done.
In June, we had a camping. We were joined by our elderly friend Harry from Brownwood. Scott, as host, took it on himself to do the majority of the cooking. No one left the camp hungry.
Friday night's menu consisted of baked beef ribs ala Dutch oven, pinto beans slow simmered over the coals, and a serving of cornbread, also from the Dutch oven.
Scott's method of cooking the beef ribs is: Trim the excess fat off the ribs. Season the ribs with salt and black pepper, and brown them in the Dutch oven in shortening. When the ribs are nice and brown, slice a large onion on top of them and put on the lid. A few coals go on top of the Dutch oven, and the oven is placed in the coals for three or four hours or until the ribs are falling-apart tender. They come out delicious.
The pinto beans are covered with an inch or so of water and slow simmered with bacon, salt, pepper and a little chili powder. All you have to do is stir them once in a while and make sure they don't boil dry.
The Dutch oven cornbread is "jalapeño style" with creamed corn, cheese, jalapeños and pimientos (recipe at end of article).
With stomachs full and a serenade by the katydids, an obnoxious little green critter that makes more noise than it should, we were soon ready for a good night's sleep in the backs of our trucks.
Saturday morning, Scott made up a batch of pancakes, bacon and hot coffee. A little butter and Log Cabin syrup was all that was needed for dressing on the pancakes. The coffee was boiled in a large stainless steel bowl because everyone thought the other was bringing the coffee pot. Our method of brewing camp coffee is to boil the water and coffee for a few minutes. Then a whole egg is broken into the bowl or pot and stirred in along with the shell. The egg gathers all the grounds and leaves the coffee clear. After breakfast, Scott made a quick trip to get a real coffee pot so Harry would not be able to "harry" us for not having a coffee pot.
At noon Saturday, no one was hungry. So we waited, discussed more guy things and, when time for supper came, Scott was back at the Dutch oven. Tonight's supper was a large chuck roast cooked in the same manner as the ribs. The only difference was the addition of more onion about an hour before everything was done. This left us with more onion with a little body to it. While the roast was simmering, Scott prepared the roasting ears for cooking. He peeled back the husk and removed the silk. The top one inch of the ear was trimmed off, as there is nothing there to eat. The husks were then pulled back in place and secured with a bit of butcher's twine. The ears of corn were then soaked in a bucket of cool water until time to put them on the coals. Large potatoes were washed, dried and given a coat of shortening and wrapped in heavy-duty foil. The spuds went in the hot ashes of the camp fire. They require about two hours to cook. About an hour before time to eat, Scott put the roasting ears on the grill. They were turned several times to get even heat.
Needless to say, it was another fine camp meal. The potatoes got a little butter and salt, as did the roasting ears. The roast needed nothing else to be added.
Sunday morning was my morning to cook. I prepared my idea of Migas. A Southwestern egg one-dish meal.
George's Jalapeño Cornbread
by George Pearce
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 jalapeños, chopped
- 1-½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz.)
- 1 4-ounce jar diced pimentos, drained
- 1 can cream style corn
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1-¼ cups milk
- ¼ cup Crisco oil
- Preheat a 10-inch Dutch oven with a few coals on the top and bottom -- liberally greased, of course.
- If you are homebound, preheat the oven to 400°F, grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet and preheat it in the oven.
- In one bowl, combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, combine the onion, jalapenos, cheese, pimentos and corn.
- Add the two together and mix until combined.
- In the bowl you just emptied, mix the eggs, milk and oil.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, and stir until just moistened.
- Pour into your preheated Dutch Oven.
- Add 3 or 4 hot coals beneath the dutch oven, and 6 or 8 coals on the top lid. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick.
Migas, Raven Style
- ½ cup fine chopped onion
- 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and diced very fine
- 1 small tomato, very ripe, diced
- Butter or shortening
- ½ cup diced, cooked ham
- 3 corn tortillas cut into ½" strips
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- Dash of garlic powder
- ½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Picante sauce
- In a heavy skillet, sauté the onion, pepper and ham in a small amount of butter or shortening until the onion is tender.
- Add tomato and stir until it gives up its juice.
- Add the tortilla strips and stir until tortilla is very tender.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs along with the chili powder and garlic powder.
- Pour into the skillet and stir constantly to keep from scorching.
- When the eggs are nearly done, add the cheese and continue to stir until cheese starts to melt.
- Remove from fire and adjust salt and pepper.
- When cheese is fully melted, stir again.
- To fancy up the dish, top with crisp fried tortilla strips.
- Serve with a generous dollop of picante sauce.
Any of the Dutch oven recipes can be cooked in your oven at home with great success. For the meat dishes, set your oven at 350 degrees -- for the cornbread, 400 to 425 degrees. The jalapeño cornbread browns faster due to the cheese content, so be careful not to burn it.
More Campfire Cooking
- Quhi Redux
More dutch oven cooking
- Cuzin Homer's Odyssey
Camp cooking, chicken delights & gazpacho
- Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas with Willie, Waylon and George
More campfile cooking stories and recipes