Camping comfort cuisine: hearty recipes for the outdoors | Australian food and drink

One-pot roast chicken with vegetables

This dish couldn’t really be any simpler – chop your vegetables, put them in a casserole dish, top with a whole chicken, then leave it to cook over the fire while you sit back and enjoy the afternoon. If you’re anything like my family, it will give you the chance to play a spontaneous game of cricket. When the game is over, dinner for your ravenous team is ready and waiting.

Serves 4-6

80ml olive oil or vegetable oil
3 large floury potatoes
, cut into 3cm chunks
4 carrots
, cut into 3cm chunks
1 red onion
, cut into 8 wedges
4 garlic cloves
, peeled and squashed with the back of a blunt knife
1.5kg whole chicken
, preferably free-range
Steamed green vegetables or a salad
, to serve (optional)

One-pot roast chicken
One-pot roast chicken: cooks in the time it takes to play a game of cricket

Heat 60ml oil in a large camp oven or casserole dish on a grill rack over a fire. Once the oil is hot, add the potato, carrot, onion and two of the garlic cloves. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir to coat the vegetables in the oil.

Put the remaining squashed garlic inside the chicken, then drizzle or brush the outside of the chicken with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Use a sharp knife to make two slits in each thigh to help it cook evenly.

Sit the chicken among the vegetables, moving the vegetables to surround it if necessary, and cover with a lid. Move the camp oven to the side of the fire, with a few coals underneath. Place coals on the lid and around the base of the camp oven, and cook for one-and-a-half to two hours, or until the vegetables and chicken are tender. You will need to stir occasionally to prevent the vegetables on the bottom from burning. Check the chicken is ready by piercing the thigh – the juices will run clear when cooked.

Remove from the fire and let it sit, covered, for five minutes. Carefully remove the chicken, tipping any juices back into the dish. Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and steamed greens or a salad on the side.

Vegetable and chickpea casserole

Vegetable and chickpea casserole
‘Reminiscent of a French-style ratatouille’: vegetable and chickpea casserole

This dish is reminiscent of a French-style ratatouille, but with extra vegetables and chickpeas. It can be served as a main meal with couscous or as a side to grilled meat and fish. Alternatively, for a quick meal, serve hot or cold with slices of crusty bread.

Serves 4 (or 8 as a side)

60ml olive oil
1 large onion
, halved and thinly sliced
1 red capsicum
, seeds and membranes removed, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves
, crushed
2 eggplants
, halved lengthways and cut into 1cm slices
2 zucchinis
, cut into 1cm slices
400g tin diced tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas
, rinsed and drained
½ tsp ground coriander
1 small handful basil leaves
, roughly torn
Grated parmesan cheese
, to serve

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a camp oven on a grill rack over a fire or a large heavy-based casserole dish or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes, or until soft.

Add the capsicum, garlic, eggplant, zucchini and remaining tablespoon of oil. Stir well and cover. Continue to cook on the rack, but move the camp oven away from direct heat. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the heat level: it needs to be hot enough to keep cooking but not so hot it dries out.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and coriander. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover again, and simmer for a further 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not mushy.

Stir in the basil. Serve with parmesan scattered over the top, if desired.

Hearty bean and vegetable ‘stoup’

Person eating bowl of ‘stoup’
‘Stoup’: cross-seasonal comfort

This dish is brilliant whatever the weather. The name says it all really – it is a cross between a stew and a soup, hence the name our family has given to this “stoup”!

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 onion
, chopped
2 garlic cloves
, roughly chopped
1 large leek
, sliced
2 carrots
, peeled and sliced
3 large potatoes
, cut into small chunks
400g tin cannellini or borlotti beans
, rinsed and drained
400g tin diced tomatoes
Crusty bread or damper
, to serve
Grated parmesan, cheddar or tasty cheese
, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or camp oven on a grill rack over a fire or on a gas cooker. Add the onion, garlic and leek and cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes. If it gets too hot, add a dash of water to the pan to cool it down.

Add the carrot and potato to the pan and stir well to combine. Add the beans and tomatoes, then add one-and-a-half tins of water (using the tomato tin) and stir gently. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, ensuring all the vegetables are submerged, then cover and return to the boil.

Good Food Outdoors by Katy Holder

Once boiling, move the camp oven to the side of the fire, with a few coals underneath. Then place coals around the base of the camp oven and cook for about 35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. You may need to replace the coals every so often to keep it simmering. It’s OK to let this dish sit for a while – it will become a bit mushy but the flavour will be great.

Check the seasoning and adjust as desired, then divide the soup among bowls and serve with crusty bread or damper. It also tastes great with a little grated cheese on top.

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