A reflector oven cooks by directing a campfire’s heat down toward a cooking shelf that holds the food. You can buy a traditional reflector oven and use it time after time, or you can make your own from aluminum foil.
First, cut two branched sticks about 20 inches below the Y. Drive them into the ground at the edge of the fire ring, 18 inches apart. Wrap a 22-inch-long stick with heavy-duty aluminum foil, place it in the forks of the Y-sticks, and unroll foil at a 45-degree angle away from the fire to the ground. Anchor the foil with another stick and unroll a shelf of foil toward the fire. Tear off the foil. Place four dry rocks on the bottom of the shelf. These will hold the baking rack or pan.
To create the oven sides, wrap one of the upright Y-sticks with foil. Unroll the foil around the back of the oven. Tear off the foil. Repeat on the other side. Pinch the two pieces of foil together.
To broil fish, line a baking pan (or simply use the bottom shelf as the baking pan) with onion slices. Add the fillets, seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. An easy way to punch it up is to slather with store-bought chipotle sauce. Top with a few more onion slices. Flip once, and cook until fish flakes with a fork.
Used to be, a meal in the woods involved a marriage of basic elements: wood and flame, meat and fire-blackened iron. We’re not saying that today’s campfire gourmands are lesser outdoorsmen than, say, a French voyageur who could make a meal out of a hunk of beaver rump and a little seasoning scraped from a salt lick. But there’s something about the basic application of heat to grub that transcends a backcountry meal dolled up with polenta and chervil.
Here are four ways to use fire to soothe the ravenous ogre that’s set up shop in your belly. Some harken back to days of leather-fringed yore. A few involve ingredients slightly more basic than cream of mushroom soup. But not a one requires that you flash-sauté or prepare a demi-glace or—for the love of jerky—wet-roast a squab. Just fire up the coal bed, brother, and dig in.