Cast Iron Campfire Cooking

Campfire cooking, scrambled eggs and coffee prepared on the campfire rings at Elkhorn Ranch are a great way to begin the day!

The heavy gauge fire rings and cooking grates make it easy to cook over a fire at Elkhorn Campground.

I was talking the other day with a friend of mine, and he made the point that you can cook just about anything in cast iron.

Yeah, I spose that’s true.  I haven’t cooked everything in cast iron, so I don’t’ know.

But this summer, we’re starting a blog subject here, a thread to follow on cast iron campfire cooking.

Not Your Usual Mess Kit

Since I was a kid, I’ve always used traditional mess kit cookware. I’ve had at least 3 different sets. Making the switch to cast iron oughta to be an adventure.

I like cooking at home with cast iron, we have three skillets – different sizes. I like cooking stir fry in them. And a couple of Dutch ovens – different sizes.  I love all of them. I especially love to cook Cajun in them.

Not sure what flavor our summer cooking will take. Elkhorn campground is probably the best place to try it.

High Heat

campfire hot dogs in the Elkhorn Campsite in the North Dakota Badlands

Hot dogs for supper

Cooking with cast iron means we’re cooking with something that can take high heat, something that can be used at home or over the campfire.

Of course, the key is to make sure it is well seasoned. 

So, first the campfire.  Most books and articles I’ve read kinda gloss over the campfire.  But that’s the most important thing.

Would You Know The Wood?

As an old woodcutter, I look for hardwood bundles. The cottonwood you find around here starts fast, burns bright, but does not leave the coals you need for campfire cooking. So, when I see wood offered at a grocery store, hardware store, or gas station, I check the type of wood, and heft it for weight. I try to find any indication of when it was cut. If it’s too green, it may be harder to burn and it will certainly pop a lot of sparks into the area.  Not good if it’s a drought.

A rugged heating system welcomed riders who needed to rest before their next loops

And that brings me to an important point. One thing we’ll want to use as we embark on this cooking extravaganza is a fire extinguisher.  I don’t want to be the reason thousands of acres of badlands go up on smoke.

Whether I’m using a traditional mess kit or cast iron, I know it’s gonna take some time. With good hardwood, it’s going to take 30 to45 minutes to get the coals to need.

It Starts Here

This is where we’re starting this late winter day.  Hitting up second-hand stores where a person can strike gold in cast iron. I’ve found two pieces there.  We’ll see what we can find.

full campfire grill set

A bigger firepit and bigger tool set.

I’ll order fresh from the manufacturer these three items:

  • Portable Fire ring
  • Tripod.
  • Some kind of support system in addition to or incorporating the tripod

So, the next time I pick up this subject I’ll let you know what we found and where.

Got Tips?

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