Campfire Chicken Pouches

Dedicated to the men formerly of BSA Troops 354 and 747 of the Yellow River District in the Atlanta Area Council.

Campfire Chicken Pouches

Ingredients
2 Chicken Thighs, bone-in, skinless
2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
1 small Yellow Onion, diced (Vidalia ideally)
1 1/2 dozen Table Mushrooms, quartered
1 yellow Bell Pepper, diced
6 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Corn on the Cob, cut in half
4 Sprigs of Rosemary
4 Tbsp Butter, divided in sixteen pieces
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1/4 tsp Fennel Seed, crushed
1/4 tsp dried Oregano, crushed
Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare Coals or Preheat Oven to 350F. If you have the luxury to be camping and cooking over a fire, you’ll want to create an area of charred wood–like a bed of coals. You could also use charcoal in a grill. You should know that on open fires, it is difficult to gauge the temperature–so be vigilant and have tongs ready to move your goods.
  • Cut four pieces of Aluminum Foil AT LEAST 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet. I recommend getting the extra-wide Aluminum Foil and cutting 4 squares.
  • Season the Chicken pieces with Salt and Pepper.
  • On two of the sheets of Aluminum foil, place on each: one Thigh, one Breast, one half of the Corn.
  • Mix the Mushrooms, Peppers, Butter, and Spices together and divide among the two Squares, keeping everything in the center in a mound.
  • Put a Sprig of Rosemary in each.
  • For each pouch, carefully pull two sides together and fold the seam together. Then fold and roll each side remaining. I recommend then placing in a second piece of Aluminum foil and repeating – helps prevent spillage and tares.
  • Roast for about an hour, making sure to heat evenly. If using an oven, place the Pouches on a baking sheet.

Makes 2 pouches (2 servings)

NOTES: So this takes me back to when I was a Boy Scout in troops 354 and 747 in Conyers. We used to make some variation of this on a camping trip–usually with skin-on chicken and a bag of mixed veggies. Sometimes we would add fresh veggies and potatoes, and rarely any herbs or spices outside of Seasoned Salt. This is my version with real Spices, fresh Rosemary, and Mushrooms instead of Potatoes. The vegetables you choose to use are up to you, and limited only by how many they fit inside a pouch. If you use Potatoes, I would suggest adding more salt and pepper.

It is memories of the times like camping that really stand out to me. Looking back, most of my friends from my later troop are very distant now–probably because we’ve moved on geographically, but also because they’re much more conservative than I am–me being gay probably doesn’t help as a result. Regardless, I dedicate this to those folks.

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Blackened Chicken with Grilled Fruit

Blackened Chicken with Grilled Fruit

Ingredients:
3 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, butterfly cut
3 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/2 – 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Blackened Seasoning
2 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Coriander Seed
3/4 Tbsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper ground
1/2 Tsp White Pepper ground
1/2 tsp Thyme dried
1/2 tsp Oregano dried
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds dried

Grilled Fruit
1 Papaya, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1 Pineapple, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1-2 Mangoes, skinned, cut in chunks or slices
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper ground
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

  • Prepare the Fruit and place on Skewers.
  • Brush with Olive Oil.
  • Sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, and Cinnamon.
  • Place on a hot grill or in the Broiler for 5 minutes per side. Set to the side, or cook while you prepare the Chicken.
  • Put all of the Ingredients of the Blackened Spice Rub in a Mortar and rub with the Pestle to mix well and open up some of the spices and herbs. Place to the side.
  • Begin heating a cast-iron skillet on high with the Olive Oil. You do not need to use all of it, just enough to coat the skillet. You do not want a puddle of oil.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the melted Butter, and then coat with the Spice Rub on all sides.
  • Place in the Skillet, and cook both sides. They will blacken because of the Butter and herbs. Each side should be about 5 minutes. Because the Chicken was butterfly cut, it will cook all the way through.
  • Plate the Chicken and cover with the Grilled Fruit (on or off the skewers, your choice).

Makes 3 Servings.

NOTES: Blackening is a technique of cooking often associated with Cajun cooking. I have read some places that attribute it however to a modern chef named Paul Prudhomme (who specializes in Cajun cooking). Whether an old technique, or a modern one, it extremely flavorful. I recommend playing with the amounts of spices–some like it hot, some don’t like it as hot–but Blackened is intended to be Spicy. If you are wanting to cheat, pick up some Hot Shot instead of the various types of Peppercorns, but do not skimp on the flavors. A lot of folks seem to want to avoid using Butter in the recipe–it is essential for true Blackened food, as the milk solids are part of the Blackening process. If you want a spicy chicken on the grill with the rub, great, but it’s not truly Blackened… just spicy ;-).  

Also, just a note, this Blackened Spice Rub can be used on Fish (it’s original intention), as well as other forms of protein.

Chess Pie

Ingredients
1 Pâte Brisée for 9″ shell
1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp Cornmeal
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
5 eggs
2/3 cup Buttermilk

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Cream the Sugars, Butter, Corn Meal, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Extract.
  • Slowly beat in each egg.
  • Finally, beat in the Buttermilk gradually.
  • Roll out your Pâte Brisée to 1/8 inch thick, and big enough for a 9″ pie. Place in pie pan and crimp the edges as you desire.
  • Pour filling into the shell.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until it has set. The edges may brown slightly.

Makes 1 pie.

NOTES: I cannot find any definitive reason why Chess Pie is called so. Some theories say it is because it came to the Americas from Chester, England. Other theories say it comes from a pie chest (or piece of furniture for pies). All I know, is it is very common in the South, and always made with buttermilk! I highly discourage making this with cream or milk, unless you add a little of vinegar.

Bison Chopped Steak with Whiskey Mushrooms and Onions

Ingredients:
1 lb ground Bison
1 Tbsp Steak Spice Rub
2 tsp Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1/4 cup Tennessee Whiskey
1 Yellow Onion, halved and sliced
3 cups Table Mushrooms
1 Jalapeño, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 tsp dried Thyme

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine the Bison with the Steak Spice Rub and 1/2 the Salt. Mix well and form patties.
  • Heat he Olive Oil in a skillet on medium high heat.
  • Preheat the Oven to 300°F.
  • Place the Bison patties in the skillet and cook each side 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Make sure not to over crowd the skillet. The Bison meat will yield a greyish-reddish fat that you should discard.
  • Move the Bison to a baking sheet, and place in the oven.
  • Deglaze the skillet with the Tennessee Whiskey. Be careful, as it may flame up.
  • Add the Onions, Jalapeños, Mushrooms, Thyme, Garlic, and the remaining Salt.
  • Heat for about 7-10 minutes, or until the Mushrooms have shrunk and cooked.
  • Remove the chopped-steak and plate. Cover the steaks with the Whiskey-soaked Mushrooms and Onions mixture.

Makes about 6 chopped steaks.

NOTES: I swear I am not paid by any company, but I have to say now if you want this to taste good, use Jack Daniels Whiskey–preferably Gentleman’s Jack. By the time it comes to the table, the alcohol is gone, but the flavor still remains and has been absorbed into the mushrooms. I recommend Bison for this dish, however you can use a lean ground beef or ground turkey as well.

Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded, room temperature
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp House Seasoning
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1-2 Tbsp Milk

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 350F.
  • Combine the Butter, Cheese, Cayenne Pepper, and House Seasoning in a Food Processor, and pulse to combine. Batter should be somewhere between clumpy and grainy. You should not be able to distinguish pieces of cheese.
  • Slowly add the Flour to the mixture, pulsing each time.
  • Lastly start adding the Milk, and the dough will clump together.
  • Fill a Pipping Bag or Cookie Press fitted with a Star Mouth with the Batter. It is essential that the batter be room temperature to do this, or you will kill your arms.
  • Slowly pipe the Dough in strings on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Take a knife or pizza cutter, and score the strings every 2 inches.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until begins to lightly brown.
  • Remove to cooling racks.

Makes about 5-6 dozen (depending on the size of the Star mouth piece)

NOTES: Cheese straws are a real Southern appetizer food. The first time I had them was when I worked at Kanuga Conferences–they were a staple item for their mixers. I love the crunchy cheesy warmness with the Cayenne bite after taste.

Banana Pudding

Ingredients:
4 cups Milk
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
4 Egg Yolks
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Butter
4-6 Ripe Bananas, sliced
2-4 cups Savoiardi Lady Fingers, cut into pieces

Meringue Topping or
Whipped Cream

Directions:

  • Line a baking dish with a layer of the Savoiardi followed by a layer of the Bananas.
  • If using the Meringue Topping, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In a large sauce pan, combine the Cornstarch, Salt and Sugar.
  • In a bowl whisk together the Egg Yolks and the Milk.
  • Slowly add the Yolk/Milk mixture to the Dry Ingredients, whisking with a balloon whisk. Whisk well to prevent any lumps.
  • Heat on low-medium Heat, stirring constantly. Do not bring to a boil.
  • As the pudding heats up, the cornstarch will start to thicken the sauce. Be vigilant as it will go from broth to custard almost with no warning. When it starts to turn to custard, it is done cooking.
  • Remove from the heat and mix in the Vanilla and Butter.
  • Pour half of the mixture over the Bananas Cookie Layer, then add additional Savoiardi and Bananas.
  • Top:
    • If using a meringue, make the meringue mixture and top; bake for 12-15 minutes or until the meringue is golden.
    • If using whipped cream, spread over the top of the pudding; crumble the remaining cookies, and sprinkle on top; then refrigerate.

NOTES: Banana Pudding is a Southern comfort food. In the Summer time it is traditional to use a Meringue topping, however no one will fault you for using whipped cream. Though traditionalists would probably scream, I prefer Ladyfingers or Savoiardi to Vanilla Wafers, and I partially wonder if that is what was used before Vanilla Wafers were mass-marketed. Regarding the bananas, they need to be real ripe with brown speckles on the skin. You can rush the ripeness by putting them in a dark place ina bag or in the fridge.

Meringue Topping

Ingredients:
4 Egg Whites, room temperature
5 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  • Beat the Egg Whites until they form soft peaks.
  • Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat, gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the vanilla into the meringue

NOTES: You can use this topping on Banana Pudding, but also on any custard pie, or other pie that would require Meringue topping. Just cover the pie, and bake at 375°F until golden brown.

Creamy Red Coleslaw

Dedicated to The Rev. Tommy S., my Southern brother in Christ and friend in Dorothy, in honor of his recent move.

Creamy Red Coleslaw

Ingredients:
1 head Red Cabbage (about 4 cups shredded, shredded finely
1 large Carrot, shredded
1/4 Yellow Onion, grated
1 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lime
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 cup Raisins
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp fresh Chives
1 tsp Steak Spice Rub
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine the Cabbage, Carrots, Ginger, Onion, and Raisins. Toss together.
  • In a gallon-size zipping baggy, combine the Mayonnaise, Dijon Mustard, Chives, Herbes de Provence, Steak Spice Rub, Salt and Pepper, Sugar, Juices, and Vinegar. Seal and mix well.
  • Pour over the top of the Cabbage Mix, and sprinkle with the Sesame Seeds.
  • Fold the mixture together until everything is coated.

NOTES: This is a tangy flavorful Cole Slaw that is very creamy. If you do not have Herbes de Provence, then you can substitute with Parsley, Basil, and a little Oregano and Thyme… just make sure the total amount is similar. This can be saved, sealed, for a week, and will become more flavorful as you go.

Variations:
S›Ƨ – Substitute Splenda® for the Sugar.

Smoky Baked Beans

Ingredients:
2 cups Haricot/Navy Beans
6-8 cups Water for Soaking
1/2 lb thick-cut Bacon, diced
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dried Chipotle Pepper, minced
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, soak the Beans in the Water overnight.
  • Drain the Beans, reserving the liquid.
  • Preheat the Oven to 325F
  • In a large Pot brown the Bacon.
  • Add the Onion and Garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add 1 cup of the Reserved Water, and all other ingredients EXCEPT the beans, and heat for 5 minutes, until bubbly.
  • Mix with the Beans and place in a Dutch Oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, covered.
  • Stir well and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered.

NOTES: I was a Boy Scout in my younger days. On camp outs I took joy in being on the kitchen patrol and cooking. Then we’d cook them in a cast-iron Dutch Oven over the campfire. Over time my Baked Beans became a request of the troop, though back then I didn’t get to use Jack Daniel’s.

So with regards to Baked Beans, there are a variety of “styles”. In Boston Style, Beans and Salt Pork are stewed with tomato paste and molasses. Southern Style incorporates Mustard and Bacon into the mix. In Vermont north through Quebec the sweetener is Maple Syrup. Cowboy Beans incorporate BBQ Sauce and Ground Beef. My beans are sort of a hybrid of baked beans with a very smoky flavor that is reminiscent of a campfire stove.

Key Lime Pie

Persian “Key” Lime Pie

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 Egg Yolks, beaten
1 cup Lime Juice
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Directions:

  • Combine the Sweetened Condensed Milk with the Egg Yolks in a large bowl, mixing well.
  • Slowly incorporate the Lime Juice, and mix well.
  • Pour into the Pie Crust.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour

NOTES: This is a super easy no-bake pie that is sure to please everyone!

Most limes one finds in the grocery store are Persian limes. To make REAL Key Lime Pie, use Key Lime Juice. Key Limes are specifically from the Florida Keys and are smaller and more tart. Authentic Key Lime Pie recipes are non-bake. The condensed milk was used because of poor refrigeration options. Some folks will add a meringue to the pie, but as I hate most meringue toppings, I refuse.

The use of the highly acidic lime juice with the Condensed Milk and Egg Yolks “cooks” the pie, so no additional baking is needed.  Some folks also add some Green Dye to the pie to make it Green–but something just does not sit right with me dying a pie.

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls

Ingredients:
2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Butter, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Dry Nonfat Milk
1 lb bulk Hot Pork Sausage
3 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • In a food processor, combine dry ingredients.
  • Slowly add the Butter, pulsing as each piece enters to fully incorporate into the dry ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, break down the sausage with your hands.
  • Slowly add the Cheese and Flour mixture, alternating between the two. Dough should be slightly crumbly.
  • Grease a large cookie sheet.
  • Using your hands, make small balls (slightly smaller than golf balls) of the dough, rolling the dough in your palms; place on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen, depending on size.

NOTES: Any Southerner will recall this recipe. It is that simple brunch snack or holiday appetizer that everyone loves. I grew up in a trailer park in Georgia, and we had a holiday party at the local club house. I was the only child usually there, and there were many people in their sixties or so. There was always a bunch of these wonderful treats there.

Let’s talk sausage: Though pork sausage is easy to find, I really have to advocate for Jimmy Dean® hot sausage. This is the only traditional sausage I would use.

Now the above is a homemade version–a lot of people will just use Bisquick® baking mix, which is fine if you’re in a hurry, though the above recipe is all natural.

Fried Okra

Fried OkraFried Okra with Cayenne Mayonnaise

Ingredients:Vegetarian
12 Okra Pods, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Cornmeal
1/2 tsp House Seasoning
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2-1 cup Olive Oil

Directions:

  • Soak the Okra in the Egg for 10-15 minutes.
  • In a plastic bag, combine Cornmeal, House Seasoning, and Black Pepper.
  • Drop the Okra into the bag, seal, and shake coating the Okra wit the Cornmeal mixture.
  • In a large skillet, heat the Olive Oil on medium heat, and add the dredged Okra.
  • Stir constantly, until golden brown
  • Remove to Paper Towel to dry

Cornbread, Texas Style

Ingredients:Vegetarian Variation
2 cups Cornmeal (if Self-Rising, omit Baking Powder and 1/2 tsp Salt)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs, beaten
2 cups Buttermilk
1/2 cup Jalapeño Peppers, diced
1/2 cup fresh Corn
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Bacon Drippings (or Shortening)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Pour the Bacon Drippings into a 9-10″ cast iron skillet, and place in the oven as it preheats.
  • In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, corn, cheese, and peppers.
  • Add the Eggs and Buttermilk, incorporating until there are no lumps.
  • Remove the Skillet and sprinkle with some Cornmeal.
  • Pour the batter into the dusted Skillet, and return to the oven.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown

Variations:
Northern Cornbread
Southern Cornbread

M›Ṽ – Use Vegetable Shortening instead of Bacon Drippings.

Cornbread, Southern Style

Ingredients:Vegetarian Variation
2 cups Cornmeal (if Self-Rising, omit Baking Powder and 1/2 tsp Salt)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs, beaten
2 cups Buttermilk
1/2 cup Bacon Drippings (or Shortening)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Pour the Bacon Drippings into a 9-10″ cast iron skillet, and place in the oven as it preheats.
  • In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  • Add the Eggs and Buttermilk, incorporating until there are no lumps.
  • Remove the Skillet and sprinkle with some Cornmeal.
  • Pour the batter into the dusted Skillet, and return to the oven.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown

Variations:
Northern Cornbread
Texas Cornbread

M›Ṽ – Use Vegetable Shortening instead of Bacon Drippings

Sweet Potato Soufflé

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
5 lg Sweet Potatoes, skinned, and chopped in 1/2 in sq. chunks
1 lg Plantain (Green or Yellow).
1 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 stick Butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Ginger Powder, ground
1 Tbsp Allspice
1 Tbsp Nutmeg
2 cups Pecans, chopped
1 bag mini Marshmallows

Directions:

  • Place Potatoes and Plantain in large pot, and bring to a boil. Boil until Potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Preheat Oven to 350°F
  • In a large bowl, mash the Potatoes, Plantain, and Butter.
  • Mix in Spices and Brown Sugar.
  • Taste mixture… if more flavor or sweetness is desired, add more. If too sweet, boil another Potato and add to it.
  • Place mixture in baking dish.
  • Cover with Pecan layer.
  • Cover that layer with Marshmallows.
  • Bake in oven until Marshmallows are golden brown, or about 20 minutes.

NOTE: This is not a true Soufflé, but I have always heard it called so.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Substitute Margarine for Butter, and make sure the Marshmallows do not use gelatin.