Me and the misses were recently camping in the Lake District, one of my oldest friends Simon and his partner work on a site up there near lake Windermere.
We love a camping trip, well she is more of a converted enthusiast, but I have been camping with family and friends since I can remember.
One of the best things about camping is the excuse to BBQ every night, come rain or shine.
There is always a way and it’s less washing up?!
On this particular trip we had a new tent (the last trip away she nearly left me after waking up a few times in a puddle… of rain water.) On this trip we proved the new tent was waterproof, lots of rain came down, again.
Still, it was nice to get away and spend some time with friends (and their heated cabin with electricity helped)
Simon had been on site for a few months and only managed 2 BBQ’s in this time, this obviously horrified me and had to be remedied.
I had my go anywhere with me, my go to traveling BBQ
(if only I could take this with me on work trips) and the first night I cooked some pork belly. I set the BBQ up to cook offset and found some dead, fairly dry wood, in a patch of trees nearby, sometimes you just have to use what is around you.
I scored the flesh side of the belly in a criss cross pattern (to allow the rub to get right in there) and seasoned well with my go to rub.
I don’t really know what temp the BBQ was at, but guess on the indirect side it would have been around the 220-250f mark. I figured it would take an hour and a half for the belly to cook, with a half kettle of lit coals, a handful of unlit coals set up minion method, all the bottom vents open and the top vent opposite the fire, above the meat, fully open.
After an hour and 20 mins the meat was reading 145f, target temp. The skin side was still quite soft so I slid it over on top of the fire to crisp up.
Served with a salad and some homemade BBQ sauce it was great!
The next night we had grilled Cumberland sausage whilst listening to our neighbour’s generator chugging away. Who goes away camping and takes a generator with them?! I thought the idea was to go and get a bit of peace and quiet, sit in a field, get back to nature (as much as you can on modern campsites) and have to walk 10 mins to take a pee.
Fortunately, the generator was shut down pretty quickly, you can just imagen lots of British people sat outside their tents quietly fuming away but not wanting to say anything (I was one of them)
The sausage was nice though, curly…
The next night Simon and Anika had the evening off so we went down to their cabin to try and get warm and enjoy some electricity and a toilet within 10 meters for a bit.
I decided to cook a beer can chicken with some salad, a great go to straight forward meal for a feeding a few people, I know quite a lot has been written about how beer can chicken is a bit of a fallacy, but it is still a fun crowd-pleasing way to BBQ a whole chicken.
My trusty go anywhere is just not big enough to cook a large chicken with a can of beer shoved inside it, I have to say this is the first time it has let me down in all these years. So, Simon offered up the BBQ that he had rescued from a bin. You may be surprised to learn what sort of things people leave behind at a campsite,
Tents (still set up, just abandoned)
Unwanted small children
Random tent poles
Half full propane tanks – in the bin!
This thing looked like a bit of mess, old, rusted, had one small air vent across the whole of the back of the fire pit, generally the sort of thing (I’m slightly ashamed to say) I would normally turn my nose up at. But if I removed the burnt crust blocking the vent and removed the cooking grate it would fit a chicken stood upright.
So, the chicken was liberally rubbed with the rub I had knocked up for the camping trip, sat on the half full can of Brooklyn lager (nice that you have to drink some of the contents before the cook) stuffed with rosemary and sage.
I carefully placed a 3/4 full kettle of lit coals on top of a handful of unlit coals at one end of the BBQ next to the air vent, minion method, chucked some more wood in with it and placed the chicken at the opposite end with the breast facing the fire.
Again, I guessed that it would take around an hour and a half. I checked on it periodically and it looked like it was going ok.
Fortunately, I always had in my mind that there was a kitchen inside with an oven, so if need be I could swallow my pride and finish it off in that, no drama.
After 2 hours, it was done! It had reached target temp and was not a burnt mess.
I was chuffed!
We let the chicken rest for as long as people could wait (minutes) and all dived in to it with a nice rocket salad and some dirty mushrooms.
I learnt a lesson that day.
Stop being such a snob, you don’t need the best, most expensive equipment to cook great food. Just be willing to adapt and overcome with what you have in front of you.
Having said that, I’m still lusting after that Langham trailer offset and gadgets are cool.