One-Skillet Campfire Meal - Garlic & Herb Roasted Chicken and Veggies
By Maddy Jacques
Cooking over a campfire in a cast iron skillet is easy, versatile, and oh-so-satisfying after a long day of outdoor adventures. Follow these 10 steps to show off your campfire cooking skills during your next camping trip.
- 4-6 Chicken Drumsticks
- 4-6 Red Potatoes (small/medium)
- Mixed Veggies (we used broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)
- 1-2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
- Olive Oil
*For reference, we’re using a 10.5” skillet here.
The ingredients above are what we used for this specific meal, but feel free to experiment! One of the greatest things about this dish is its versatility; once you have the method down, you can easily sub out ingredients and seasonings to your liking. We’ve had some great variations of this meal using curry powder and cayenne for a spicier flair, or tossing in halved brussel sprouts.
Here’s how to make this dish:
Step 1- Get a good campfire going
You’ll want enough wood burning to have plenty of hot coals when it’s time to break up the logs. If you’re using a dense wood that keeps heat in the coals well, you shouldn’t have any issues setting the skillet directly on the coals to maintain an appropriate cooking temperature. However, if you’re using a lighter, quicker burning wood, it may help to lay down two thin pieces of wood across the coals to prop up the pan and allow the coals some airflow. Otherwise, the pan may snuff out the coals beneath. You may also need to keep a closer eye on the coals in this case, stirring them around and adding extra fuel as needed. If you don’t hear a good sizzle coming from the pan consistently, check the heat
Step 2- Pre-heat your skillet
Place the skillet above, but not completely in your fire. To check if the skillet is done heating, flick a few drops of water into the pan - if they crackle on impact and turn immediately into steam, you’re good to go.
Once the pan is heating, ALWAYS USE AN OVEN MITT/ETC BEFORE TOUCHING ANY PART OF THE PAN! We want to smell the sizzle of chicken skin, not yours.
Step 3- Prep Ingredients
Season the chicken with some salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme (or as desired). Chop veggies and potatoes into manageable pieces (no bigger than 1” or so for the potatoes to make sure they cook through). Drizzle veggies and potatoes with olive oil and add seasonings. Toss in a bowl for a more even coating, if you love doing extra dishes. Chop garlic into nice hearty chunks.
Step 4- Break up logs into chunks of coals
When your logs are burned most of the way through, you should be able to easily break them into smaller pieces of hot coals by knocking them around with a hatchet, forcefully poking them with a sturdy stick, or using whatever fire tool you’ve got that allows you to both apply some force and keep your limbs happily not-on-fire. Please use caution. Also be sure to keep an eye on any embers that may escape your fire pit as you’re moving hot chunks of flaming material around! Safety first.
Step 5- Layer ingredients into skillet
IMPORTANT: Right before adding anything to the skillet, coat the hot pan liberally in oil (2-3 tablespoons. Turn the pan to coat evenly.
Place the chicken in the skillet first. Fill in the spaces between the pieces of chicken with potatoes. Sprinkle in the garlic chunks. Top with veggies. This arrangement allows the potatoes to get a bit of char and soak up delicious chicken juices, while propping up the more delicate veggies for a good steam. Cover with an actual lid if you’re fancy and have one, otherwise aluminum foil will work fine.
Step 6- Place skillet directly on coals
**Or use the prop-up method described above and set the pan on two thin beams just above the coals.
Shortly after placing the pan on the coals, you should start to hear a very enticing sizzle. This means you’re leaving the station on the train to Downtown Chowtown. All aboard!
Step 7- Rotate ingredients at halfway point
Check things out after about 15 minutes (a little longer for larger cuts of meat). The pan-side of the chicken should be golden brown, the veggies should be steaming away, and the potatoes should be getting softer. Turn over the chicken pieces, still keeping them towards the bottom of the pan, and give the veggies a little mix-up.
Step 8- Finish cooking
Drumsticks should be done around the 25-30 minute mark, if not sooner. Check as needed. Make sure the potatoes have cooked all the way through. We probably could have pulled the pictured meal off the fire a bit sooner than we did, but we still ended up with tender, juicy, falling-off-the-bone drumsticks - keeping the pan covered keeps ash out and moisture in.
Step 9- Cool Down
This might be the most difficult step. By now, you’ve been hearing and smelling this dish cook for what seems like an eternity. But be patient - that pan is going to stay really, really hot. Which means the ingredients are going to be scalding. Trust me on this one. Few things will ruin a meal like a burnt tongue on the first bite.
Also, remember to keep using that oven mitt any time you handle the pan, and be sure to not set the pan directly down on any surfaces that might be damaged by heat.
Step 10- Feast!
Dig in whenever you’ve determined that the food is just barely cooled enough to avoid bodily injury. Revel in your cooking skills. Instagram it to show off to your friends, you Cast-Iron Chef!
We’d love to hear how this recipe turned out for you and see what amazing variations you come up with on your next camping trip! Tag @experiencegear on that Instagram post you’re going to be showing off in and let us know how it went.
Got the skillet but not the camping gear? You plan the meal, we’ll cover the rest. Check out ExperienceGear’s camping kits for your next getaway.