This Thanksgiving, don’t slave away in the kitchen. Instead, enjoy some time outdoors in the crisp November weather while staying warm around a fire with the ones you love.
If you’re open to alterations to traditional recipes, then a campfire Thanksgiving is easily achievable and delicious. In order to have an enjoyable holiday for all involved, prep work is key.
It’s also highly recommended that you have a warm drink in hand at all times, and a patient attitude. Good things, after all, come to those who wait.
For the beverage
If you’re cooking outside for hours, you’ll want to keep cozy with a hot beverage and a splash of something to warm you from the inside out. Try The Dirty Gourmet’s Vanilla Cider Cocktail which features the fall tastes of apple cider and the warming effects of vanilla vodka and hard apple cider.
Another traditional drink for the holidays is a classic mulled wine. If you’re trailer camping and hooked up, try this Mulled Wine recipe from Well Plated that can be made ahead in a crockpot.
For the main meal
A fully roasted bird isn’t achievable over campfire, but there are still plenty of ways to get in your turkey with fire-friendly recipes. If you’re celebrating with a small group, try grilling turkey breasts and maybe a leg or two. Simply salt the skin the night before and roast the bird over indirect heat (no direct flame) to ensure a moist and juicy cut of meat.
If you’re up for something more non-traditional, give Fresh Off the Grid’s “Thanksgiving in a Bowl,” a try. This simple and fuss-free recipe features acorn squash functioning as your vessel and your squash dish. These hearty gourds caramelize into a sweet flesh and the filling is a seasonal stuffing featuring turkey sausage, celery, bread, cranberries, and pecans.
For the sides
No need to make things more difficult when it comes to sides. Try roasting Brussel sprouts in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add chopped bacon for a bit of richness. Or, roast asparagus spears directly on the grill grate. This vegetable holds up well when exposed to an open flame.
If you’re a green bean casserole traditionalist, try a simple campfire version in a 4-quart pot. Melt one stick of butter in the pot and add one chopped yellow onion. Let the onion simmer down. Add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add one pound of frozen green beans and one pound of frozen peas. Add 3/4 cup of half & half and let the mixture cook down by half. Once thickened, your casserole is ready to enjoy. For a detailed version of this recipe and other sides check out REI’s Thanksgiving post.
For the dessert
There’s nothing that says “Thanksgiving” quite like apple pie. For a campfire-friendly version of this classic, use ingredients you have on hand like granola and brown sugar. This simple but scrumptious recipe for Campfire Apple Crisp by Fresh Off The Grid will surely hit the spot and give you an end-of-meal kick with a hint of bourbon.
There is plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. If you’re celebrating it outdoors, then a quick message of gratitude to Mother Nature is a must.
Remember, when fixing food outdoors be mindful of local wildlife. Always properly dispose of waste and leave no trace. Though it may be unglamorous, paper plates make for easy clean up without lingering scents that could attract bears or raccoons. If you’re campfire cooking in a dry or drought-stricken area, be vigilant of your fire and assure all embers are extinguished at the end of the day.
More than anything, stop to take in a breath of fresh air this Thanksgiving and give thanks to the great outdoors. Savor a slow cooked meal over the fire—don’t forget the S’mores—and share turns telling stories with family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving from Team Outdoorsy.
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