The Reflector Oven
The Bean Hole
_10 cups dried great Northern or yellow-eye beans
1 lb. salt pork, cut into 2-inch strips
2 large onions, diced
21⁄2 cups molasses
2 tsp. black pepper
4 tsp. dry hot mustard
1⁄2 cup butter
Step 1: Dig a hole that’s twice as deep as and 1 foot in diameter larger than your Dutch oven. Toss a few rocks or a length of chain in the bottom. Fill the hole with hardwood, and burn it down until the hole is three-quarters full of hot coals. Step 2: Precook the beans by slow-boiling them for about 30 minutes. Drain. Step 3: Place salt pork in the Dutch oven, layer onions on top, and pour in beans, molasses, black pepper, and mustard. Slice butter and place on top. Add enough boiling water to cover beans by 1⁄2 to 1 inch. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and then the lid. Step 4: Shovel out about a third of the coals, and put the bean pot in the hole. Replace the coals around the sides of the oven and on top, and fill the rest of the hole with dirt. Cooking time varies, but give it a good 8 hours.
The Drugstore Wrap
The Crowd Pleaser
5 lb. chicken breasts, cut into stir‑fry-size chunks
2 medium sweet yellow onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 large yellow squash, cubed
1 19-oz. can enchilada sauce
25 small corn tortillas
2 lb. shredded cheddar-jack cheese
1 16-oz. can black beans
1 16-oz. can corn kernels
3 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 cup milk Step 1: Saute chicken, onions, green pepper, and squash. Step 2: In a 14-inch Dutch oven, layer enchilada sauce, tortillas, cheese, canned ingredients, and cooked chicken-and-vegetables mixture. Step 3: Mix cornbread according to box instructions, and spread over the top. Step 4: Bake for 1 hour using six to eight coals on the bottom and a tight ring of coals around the top.
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.