23 May 2011

Family recipe Monday: cooking outdoors

Camp grill and stove made from old oven parts and petrified wood, Lemmon, South Dakota.
Definitely (one hopes) one of a kind. I want it.

With summer almost on us (never mind what the calendar says--in museum land, it's Memorial Day to Labor Day), it's time to start thinking about field work and field cooking. We have a lot of potential sites to cover and a number of people to feed.

Our dear friend Pat has made a second (third? fourth? and all concurrent) career as a gifted camp cook for paleontological projects. Her philosophy is that people work, sleep and get along better if they are fed well. That does not mean two weeks of reheated canned chili. She has a fat file of recipes for dishes that can be easily expanded to fit the number (and appetites) of people at hand, prepared easily, and adapted to local ingredients and conditions. Hers may be the only field expeditions on which people gain weight. Leftovers have never been a problem.

Here is a classic and one of Pat's standards, with her permission. This is for anyone who doesn't believe that camp cooking can be both easy and good.

Pat's green chile chicken/vegetable stew for a crowd

Saute in olive oil *(about 1/4 cup):
1 large onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, halved

Cook until soft and add:
4 4-oz. cans diced green chile
2 28-oz. cans green enchilada sauce (salsa verde)

Cook briefly to combine and add:
2 T each: ground cumin, red chile powder, green chile powder*, ground coriander, chile-lime powder

Add and cook 15 minutes until soft:
6 medium potatoes (unpeeled, chopped)
2 zucchini, halved and chopped

1 24-oz packages grilled chicken strips
2 14-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 14-oz cans corn, drained
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes (do NOT drain)
2 14-oz cans green beans (drained), ONLY if no zucchini available

Simmer on low for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with tortillas, sour cream, and grated cheese.

*New Mexicans will point out that this is the Christmas combination: red and green chile combined. Reduce the green chile powder to make the stew milder.

Now get out there and find something.

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