Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

In today’s post, Chef Deb Rankine, aka The Fridge Whisperer, shares her favorite campfire chili recipes.

Chili is the perfect winter camping food.

Cook it low and slow in a cast iron pot set over smoldering coals, or on a gas barbecue over indirect heat with the lid closed. Or, if you are somewhere serviced, in a slow cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Today’s recipes use everyday pantry ingredients that are easily obtained and, for the most part, do not require refrigeration.

Advice for professional campers

Place fresh ground beef in a zipper-top freezer food storage bag. Flatten it into an even layer so that there are no air pockets. Close it, freeze it, then place it in the bottom of the cooler and place the package of frozen corn kernels on top. Not only will the frozen meat act as a freezer bag, it will also keep the corn frozen and allow the meat to gently thaw, ready for when you go to make the chili.

Campfire Tex-Mex Beef Chili (serves 8)

  • 2 pounds (907 g) lean ground beef
  • 1 package (55 g) dried onion soup mix
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 EACH red and green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles (from a can of chipotle in adobo), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon EACH salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 can (19 oz/560 g) red kidney, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package (10 oz/284 g) frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can (28 oz/794 g) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (28 oz/794 g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups canned beef broth
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In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, add beef, soup mix, onion, bell peppers, garlic, chipotle chile, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix until combined, then add the remaining ingredients.

Place the pot over the coals of your campfire and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, the meat is cooked through, and the chili has reduced by about 1/3 its volume (about 3 hours), stirring occasionally. Add more coals to keep the heat under the pot at about 300°F.

Serve chili immediately. Garnish with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and sliced ​​green onion, if desired.

Vegetarian 3-Bean Campfire Chili (serves 8)

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles (from a can of chipotle in adobo), chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cans (794 g/28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g) kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g) black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 package (10 oz/284 g) frozen corn kernels
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In a pot over medium heat, add the oil and heat until simmering. Add the chili powder and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add garlic, chipotle, onion, bell peppers, and jalapenos and cook until onion softens (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes, kidney and black beans, black-eyed peas, and corn, and stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender and the chili is heated through (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.

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Season the chili to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Garnish with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro, if desired.

Visit our outdoor cooking page and blog posts for more great camping recipes!