This was the first recipe we made using our new camping specific cast iron dutch oven, which is a welcome addition to our well used Lodge cast iron skillet. It is made of bare cast iron, which has similar heat retention properties to enameled cast iron, which is what we use at home. You definitely don't want to use enameled cast iron on an open fire as it would burn the coating. And even with a dutch oven meant for the open fire, the soot can get a bit intense. After this trip we bought a carrying case to limit the soot to the pot.
As for the recipe itself I wanted something simple but satisfying as we weren't sure about the weather in early November. Plus, this meal makes stuffed peppers -- one of my fall favorites --into something a little less fussy.
Unlike cooking at home where you can just grab all your ingredients in whatever fashion you like, there is real strategy to prepping your ingredients for camp cooking. For certain ingredients you'll want to use a re-bagging technique so you only bring what you need. This helps save valuable cooler space and in some cases creates a barrier for tricky ingredients, such as meats, that can contaminate the rest of your food if you aren't careful.
For this recipe I re-bagged the parmigiano reggiano, a handful of italian parsley, and the rice as they all come in much larger containers than we were going to use on our overnight adventure. I also bagged a new stick of butter, the ground meat , and my tub of frozen chicken stock to keep them from intermingling with other ingredients in the cooler. You can use mass market chicken stock, but I think fresh frozen stock adds more flavor, plus it doubles as ice.
To make the best use of space I also left the onion, peppers and fennel whole so I could toss them in with our dry ingredients. We have a set of camping specific spices -- you'll notice them in the photo -- that are in small plastic and metal containers perfect for outdoor cooking. I also like to keep all the dry ingredients for each of our meals in a single totebag. It keeps things organized, plus it makes use of all the random free totebags that have multiplied in our closet.
Stuffed Pepper Stew
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 fennel bulb diced
- 1 large container of sweet cherry peppers or 3 large sweet bell peppers various colors
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup white basmati rice rinsed and drained
- 1 can of diced tomatoes with basil and spices
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1 32 Oz container of chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon of pepper
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 1 cup of chopped Italian parsley
- 1 cup of parmigiano reggiano
Preparing the Fire
Make a nice roaring fire and then place your cast iron on the grate to preheat for at least ten minutes while you prep your ingredients.
Assembling the Stew
- Add the butter to the preheated cast iron dutch oven
- After the pan is coated stir in onion, garlic, and fennel
- Once the onions are translucent add the peppers
- After the veggies are soft move them to one side of the pan and add the ground beef to brown
- Once the meat is brown mix in the rice, tomatoes, sauce, and chicken stock
- Once the stew is simmering incorporate the spices and cook till the rice is tender -- about 25 minutes
- Laddle stew into bowls and top with parsley and cheese to taste
Photos Credit - Jo Stein