By: Chef Mark DeNittis - February 2005
As summer drifts away fall aromas fill the air, colder temperatures prevail, and Jeep doors are put back on. It's hunting season everywhere across America! Although, the past two rifle seasons have not yielded me a trophy elk, deer or bear, the opportunity to be in the high-country wilderness is fulfilling enough. I hunt in northern Colorado, near Willow Creek Pass off of Mulstay Jeep Trail between 9,500-12,000 feet. Walking around at those elevations can be tough enough but having great hearty carbohydrate-packed meals helps considerably when energy levels need to be maintained. Especially -- although not in my case yet -- to haul out the big game!
I can prepare the following meals at home days in advance, easily cook or reheat and clean-up at camp, after a day of looking and listening for game. Of course the main focus is to KIS (Keep It Simple) for time and cleanup. Also take into consideration keeping things sealed up tight in a “bear-proof” container or out of a bear's reach. I have a 10x18 foot dome tent that is great. I set up a tarp just outside the opening of the tent as my “Kitchen Area”. In the future when I have more people attend camp I’ll get one of those 10x10 pop up canopies and use tarps for siding to have a kitchen area set up away from living and sleeping quarters.
|Chef Mark and his hunt camp in Colorado's backcountry.|
|Weekend Hunt Camp Menus|
|Trail Bites Recipe Files|
Instant Oatmeal: this is a no-brainer. Follow the directions on the packet. Heat water, add the hot water to the oatmeal mix. I like to make this in a Zip Loc baggie. I usually empty the contents of two instant oatmeal packets into a pint size Zip Loc bag. Put the bag into a coffee cup to hold the shape and keep from burning my hands when I add the liquid. Eat, crumple up the bag when done, and throw into my trash container.
|Breakfast Burritos: Serves 3 (Two Burritos per person)|
Over a medium-high flame or heat source cook the sausage. Strain off excess amount of fat from sausage leaving a little (about 3 Tbs.) to cook the onions, peppers, and eggs in. Add the onions to cook until soft. Add the eggs, scramble, cook until soft. Set aside in refrigerator let cool.
Cook in butter or oil until golden brown, set aside to let cool.
Method of Preparation:
Once all of the cooked items have cooled you can begin to assemble. Divide all the ingredients between the 6 tortillas. Roll as in the pictures, then roll in a paper towel, finally roll in Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Place in freezer until time to leave for camp. The paper towel absorbs any excess moisture to keep the burrito dry as it reheats and can be used as a napkin.
On the trail:
Heat in a skillet to an internal temperature of 165F (about 10-15 minutes). I would start them before I put the coffee on. Another great way would to be to heat them on the engine block as you are driving to your hunting area.
|Preparing the breakfast burritos: fill the tortillas, fold the burrito, wrap with a paper towel and finish with aluminum foil.|
|Dale’s Pale Ale Hunt Camp Stew (Serves 2-4)|
“A Huge Voluminously Hoppy Mutha of a Pale Ale” as quoted on this canned Rocky Mountain Pale Ale made at Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado, is used to make this hearty and flavorful stew. Although this stew can be made at home (and typically stews are better the second time around - “Encore Presentations”), I chose to precut all the ingredients at home to be able to prepare this dish at camp. Although not in the first attempt as can be seen in the picture! I have incorporated sour cream into the recipe to mellow some of the heat from the black pepper and hoppy flavor of the beer. This dish is very similar to the Hungarian “porkolt” (goulash style) known as Tokany, a goulash style stew. But instead of paprika, black pepper is the main spice. A plus for black pepper fans and warms the soul on cold late fall hunt trips. Dale’s registers in at 6.5% alcohol by volume, any flatlanders coming out to hunt the high-country elevations be cautious - this beer will “bite you in the boo-boo” to say the least.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The recipe calls for 3 cans of Dale’s Pale Ale. Please realize one can is for the stew, one for during cooking to add flavor to the camp chef and one to enjoy with the meal. On a more serious note - this is of course after all ammunition has been removed from all firearms. Be responsible: loaded guns and alcoholic beverages DO NOT MIX!!!!!
|A hearty stew for dinner in camp! Don't forget to allocate some of the ale for the chef.|
Method of Preparation on the trail: If making at home, let mixture cool and portion into Zip Loc bags.
Heat a skillet over med-high heat with oil. Season the meat lightly with salt and pepper, and place into hot skillet. Brown all the meat and add in the garlic, onions and black pepper. Let cook until the onions and garlic are soft. Deglaze (fancy chef lingo meaning add the beer) the skillet with the can of Dale’s while tilting and sipping from the other can. Add the water.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to let simmer for 45 minutes to one hour over low heat. Stir occasionally and tilt and sip from the other can to adequately flavor the camp chef. This will allow the meat to become fork tender and the chef to mellow, relax and take in the great outdoors. Once the meat has become fork tender add in the carrots and potatoes to cook until fork tender for another 10 – 15 minutes. Add more water or beer if it has reduced too much. The sauce should have a semi-smooth consistency.
To finish, slowly stir in the sour cream, adding in 1/3 of the total amount at a time. This tempering step allows for the sauce to become smooth and creamy. Adding in cold sour cream in one big “glop” to a hot liquid may coddle the sour cream and make the sauce gritty. Let simmer to allow the sauce to incorporate flavor and come to a creamy texture. Adjust the taste with salt as needed.
Dig in, while occasionally tilting and sipping the third and final beer with your free hand!!!
|North-Woods Rib-eye Steak with Beer Braised Potatoes and Cabbage (Serves 1)|
|A rib-eye steak with bacon, potatoes, and cabbage (and secret seasoning).|
Method of Preparation on the Trail: I prechopped the cabbage, onion, and carrots at home and placed in a baggie for ease on the trail. Season the steak. Heat a skillet and render the bacon. Sear the seasoned rib-eye until browned, flip and sear the other side until cooked through to desired temp (Rare, Medium or Shoe Leather Well). Pull out of pan and set aside. Let the bacon crisp and brown: pull out and set aside for later. Add the onions and potatoes to cook through. Add the cabbage and potatoes. Pour in the can of beer and let simmer until the potatoes have softened. Adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Put the steak back in to warm through. Garnish with crisp bacon. Can be served right in the skillet and eaten up!
|Pasta with Meat Sauce (Serves 4-6)|
|A rich carb-laden pasta dinner is easily prepared when precooked at home.|
Method of Preparation: In a sauce pot heat oil and add ground meat. Cook to brown the meat, add the (*optional pepper flakes) garlic, onions, and carrots let cook to lightly brown and add in the tomato paste to coat evenly. Deglaze the pan (add the wine to the pan) with the wine and let simmer and reduce by 1/4th. Add in the crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Let cool. Once cooled this mixture can be put into Zip Loc bags and frozen for later use.
On the trail: Mix the pasta and sauce in a Zip Loc baggie. Seal tightly and place bag in a pot of boiling water. Cook until hot. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
|Cajun Country Dirty Rice (Serves 2-4)|
|Cajun rice with some extras, including chicken.|
Method of Preparation at Home: I wanted to try the new packaged cooked Tyson Chicken product as it can pack in and out easily. I found the taste to be surprisingly good.
In a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil and cook the Andoullie to extract the flavor and some additional fat. Add in the garlic, onions and celery to cook until soft. Add in the rice, let absorb the oils by stirring. Add in the water or chicken broth. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and let cook covered until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice fluffs with a fork.
Take off the heat and place in a bowl, mix in the chicken (optional Shrimp), Tabasco, scallions, peppers, chopped parsley and cayenne. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Let cool and then package in Zip Loc bags and freeze until needed.
On the Trail:
Place bag in pot of boiling water until heated through.
|Wrapping up and heading home...........|
|A huge moose and a Little Gal.|
Although I didn’t fill my freezer chest, I did get a chance to be in the outdoors. I did however shoot a moose…with my camera. There are actually two moose (what is the plural form meese or mooses?), the second is hiding behind some foliage. It was in the same exact spot nine years ago that I spotted a mama and baby moose on one of my first Jeep adventures when my Jeep was an unscathed bone stock baby. Years later after numerous nips, tucks, lifts, and innards surgeries (on my Jeep of course) there stood the baby moose, now a mama, I first saw nine years ago. Time flies…I hope my daughter doesn’t grow that fast I know it will seem just like yesterday…nine years from now that is.
Some of the recipes containing spicy items please feel free to adjust to suit your taste… but realize that the hotter it is going in…the hotter it can be coming out! On that note… until next time; eat well, wheel well, and have a put it in 4-Low attitude, responsibly of course!
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