EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER GRILLED - SO CAMP WITH ONE
1. Round grill from charcoal barbeque (approx 18-20" diameter);
2. Charcoal (Kingsford regular briquettes - no match light stuff. We find that a 20lb bag lasts for at least 3 days of grilling);
3. Heavy-duty wide (18") aluminum foil (good for all kinds of cooking);
4. Charcoal lighter fluid;
Our recommendations for making the fire:
1. Evaluate wind conditions. You can cook in any kind of wind, including a chubasco, if you are careful; just get serious about wind breaks because dirt in your food sucks. After completing steps 2-7 below, we recommend the following wind breaks: camp tables turned on edge, big rocks, equipment boxes, etcetera - the bigger the better if it is windy. The key: you can place your wind breaks very close (if not almost touching) to the grill after your coals have gotten started. Place wind breaks in a "U" shape around the grill (the downwind side open) and make sure there are no gaps where sand can blow through.
2. Dig bowl-shape depression in dirt or sand about the diameter of your grill; approximately 5" deep is good. Note that you don't want it too deep or the coals will be too far from the grill.
3. Find 3 good, dry rocks (wet rocks at the beach may crack/explode) about 6-8 inches in diameter. Arrange these rocks equidistant from each other around the edge of your depression and rest the grill on them so the rocks support the edges of the grill. Adjust/bury the rocks in the dirt/sand until they are steady, the grill is steady, the grill is level, and the grill is about 5-7 inches above the bottom of the depression. (The object is to not have the rocks crowd into the depression too much so there is space for charcoal.)
4. Remove grill and line the depression with aluminum foil. The foil will support the charcoal and keep it out of the dirt/sand.
5. Arrange charcoal throughout the depression (you may want to leave a little area without briquettes so you will have a cool area on your grill). Replace grill.
6. If you have 'em, surround entire grill with large rocks (they stop the wind, keep dirt out of the depression/grill, and are great to rest feet and tools on).
7. Light charcoal, and, when the flames die down, arrange additional wind breaks as necessary before you cook.
8. The next day, don't forget to properly dispose of the tinfoil and leftover charcoal.
FULL-BLOWN STEAK DINNER WITHOUT TOO MUCH HASSLE
It never fails. You find the perfect campsite as the sun is going down. How do you still have the ultimate culinary experience with minimum effort? We recommend a steak and potato dinner. This recipe easily works on day one or two (or three) of any camping trip.
1. 4 rib eye steaks (thick ones - 1 to 1.5 inches thick);
2. 4-5 medium size russet potatoes;
3. 6 quart-size freezer ziploc bags (note: when buying bags get the ones that actually seal air and watertight - not the ones that have the slider to seal them);
4. 1 gallon-size freezer ziploc bag;
5. Aluminum foil;
7. 8 oz. container of sour cream;
8. Steak sauce, salt, and other condiments.
1. Wedge each rib eye steak into the bottom of a separate quart-size bag and carefully fold the bag around the steak to remove all air before sealing the bag.
2. Stack all four steaks and wedge them into the gallon bag.
3. Put butter and sour cream in ziplocs.
4. Freeze steaks. [The multiple bags serve two purposes - the double bagging makes sure that you get no water intrusion when they bounce around your ice chest, and, because each steak is in an individual bag, they easily separate and quickly thaw at camp.]
5. Wash/scrub the potatoes so you don't have to wash them in the wilderness.
6. Place frozen steaks and the butter and cream in the cooler just before you leave for Baja.
7. When you arrive at camp, take steaks out to allow them to thaw (wind and immersing the bags in water makes this go faster if there is any problem).
8. Wrap each potato well in tinfoil. Then wrap each one again in a small piece of tinfoil (just enough to cover it).
9. Prepare charcoal barbeque. (Don't light it yet.)
10. Place potatoes down into the briquettes. Light barbeque with potatoes down in briquettes.
11. When coals are ready, grill steaks.
12. When steaks are done, potatoes (if they were medium sized) should be done. [Test potatoes by poking through foil into potato. If the fork doesn't go into the potato easily, it's not done yet.]
13. Remove steaks to a pot to rest (or serve directly to hungry campers standing near grill drinking beer).
14. Remove grill, remove potatoes from coals, and take off small piece of foil outer layer. This will leave a clean layer of foil wrapped around potatoes so that you don't end up with ashy potatoes when you unwrap them. Serve potatoes with butter and sour cream.
16. (Don't forget to pack out your trash.)
We also like our steaks with sweet potatoes or yams. The upside is, they cook faster in the coals; the downside is, they cook faster in the coals, so keep an eye out and remove them when you can fork 'em or they'll burn.
GRILLED MARINATED COCHINO (TRIGGERFISH)
A Baja camping recipe so simple we don't know why we even bother to write it down.
1. 4 to 6 triggerfish fillets (with skin on). This recipe also works well with cabrilla (skin on);
2. 1/2 Onion, sliced thin;
3. 8 fluid oz. bottle or 1 cup of Wishbone original Italian dressing (if you could only find the big bottle - in which case you are now obligated to serve a salad with your fish).
4. Juice from 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup).
5. 1 gallon-size ziploc freezer bag.
If you plan to have more triggerfish, just plan more ingredients to make more bags.
NOTE: The scales on finescale triggerfish (known in Baja as "cochino" (pig)) and cabrilla don't flake off of their skin, even when grilled. Accordingly, we leave the skin on for grilling. Because most of a fish's fat is next to the skin, you don't lose it and the fillets grill better and come out more moist. Also, the skin keeps the fillet together on the grill. When cooked, the meat will easily separate from the skin on your plate. If you have a scaly fish like pargo - ditch the skin and have a plan (like using aluminum foil) to keep the fish from falling through the grill.
DOUBLE NOTE: Anyone who knows anything about cooking fish will tell you that fish continues to cook even after you remove it from the grill. So, folks, have a good flashlight (it's probable you're cooking in the dark if you caught the afternoon bite), and remove the fish before its center goes completely opaque (or if you are gutless, the moment it loses its translucency). Otherwise your fish will be overdone.
Another little note: When filleted, Cochinos have only a few, big bones which are easily found and removed when you eat them. That's why we really like to cook them this way.
Final little note: We don't always marinate all of our fillets. Triggerfish tastes so good without any marinade, we also throw a few on the grill without marinade and just serve them plain or with butter, lemon, and/or tartar sauce.
1. Combine all ingredients is the ziploc bag. Seal the bag and massage the ingredients so that the fillets get well covered with marinade.
2. Place bag in your cooler for at least 1/2 hour and until you are ready to grill. (If you leave them cooling for several hours, although the lemon in the marinade will "cook" the fish a bit, this won't matter in the end so don't worry.)
3. Grill fillets. If you care for perfectly done fish (see notes above) this is the only slightly tricky part. We recommend the following: Start grilling the fillets skin-side up. This way you can get those nice grill marks. As you turn them (once or twice, or maybe three times), end the cooking with the skin side down. The meat will contract a bit from the edges of the skin, you will see the bones begin to poke out from the top of the fillet, and the flesh will begin to flake easily in the thick part of the fillet (insert a fork to twist and see). When this happens, your fish is done - remove it from the grill. Triggerfish plumps-up sort of like lobster as it cooks.
4. Serve with skin on; the meat should slide right off the skin when you eat it.
5. Pack out your trash.
"Surf & Turf"