This past weekend Greg and I went camping at Krause Springs in Texas hill country. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and our site was absolutely gorgeous. Our days were spent swimming in a natural spring, tanning by a waterfall, napping on a hammock in the butterfly gardens and hiking along a river. After a long day in the sun it was nice to relax by the campfire and eat delicious meals that took very little time to prepare.
From being the camp cook I have learned three important rules to cooking in the woods. For one, a simple meal is key for staying sane and keeping your trip relaxing. Two, if you prep the meals at home your cook time is much quicker and you might actually be able to eat dinner while it is still light out! Lastly, leftovers are a huge pain in the ass and often become wasted unless you plan your meals around them.
With that being said this chili is the perfect meal for such occasions. I prepped the chili at home the day before and placed enough for two servings in a sealed container. I opted to keep it meat free as I knew it would keep better in a cooler and leftovers might find their way into this meal.
Our first night we grilled steaks over the campfire and served it with grilled corn on the cob and potatoes. My favourite way to make potatoes over a grill is to slice them up with onions and wrap them in tinfoil with butter and seasonings.
As usual at the end of dinner we were left with half a steak, a cob of corn and an entire packet of potatoes. To salvage the leftovers I put the potato pack in a ziplock bag and stored them in the cooler until the next morning when we used them as a side with breakfast. As for the steak and corn, I chopped them up into small pieces and mixed them into the chili. This simple addition made the chili much heartier the next night and cooking it over an open flame added a great smoky flavour.
Our chili dinner was the perfect meal for our second night as we were both too exhausted to spend a lot of time cooking. To serve the chili I topped it with shredded cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped tomatoes and green onions. Do you have any special go-to camp meals?
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
3 celery stalks
1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup cooked corn
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 can white kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tsp. cumin
2 Tsp. chili powder
1 Tsp. smoky sweet pepper seasoning
1 Tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can of beer (I used Shiner Bock)
2/3 cup bulgur wheat
Optional camp add-ins
½ barbecued steak
1 cob of corn
½ cup Greek yogurt
4 Tbsp. tomatoes, chopped
4 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté bell peppers, onion, garlic, celery and jalapeno pepper until tender; about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and corn and continue to cook for another minute.
Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, and maple syrup, stir to combine. Season with cumin, chili powder, and smoky sweet pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.
Pour in beer and bring chili to a boil. If it seems too thick add ¼ cup of water at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Stir in uncooked bulgur wheat and let simmer for 1-2 hours over low heat.
If you are taking this camping, store in a sealed container and place inside a large ziplock bag in the cooler. (It’s better to be safe than have cooler water infiltrate your dinner!)
We usually barbecue steaks and corn on the cob our first night of camping and place any leftovers in our container of chili. Adding the grilled steak and corn makes the chili heartier which is always welcomed after a long day in the woods.
To heat the chili put it in a large camp pot or tinfoil deep dish (easier clean up) and heat it over an open flame on a fire grate. Stirring occasionally bring the chili to a simmer. Serve as is or top with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and green onions.