Article Dana Lapinel
Grant Buchanan with Culinary Concepts showed us how to whip up a decadent meal in the great outdoors, because let’s be honest: food is one of the best parts about camping. Skip the pre-packaged grub, take advantage of the scenery and get inspired with our gourmand’s style shoot.
The Chef: Grant Buchanan with Culinary Concepts
Location: Grant Buchanan’s Farm
Styling: Elorie Slater for The Gathery
Pop-up trailer: Colorado Teardrops
Photographer: Tara Polly
Breathe it in
Camping is the best way to get away from the lights, noise and chaos of city life. With the mountains horizon beckoning, we packed our gear, brought along Chef Grant Buchanan and proved that modern day camping can be a foodie’s delight.
Embrace the wilderness while camping, but by all means bring a few key home comforts; pillows, picnic blankets, and a well-stocked cooler do not disqualify the front-range camper from an authentic experience. Our version of camping is up-leveled to enjoy life’s finest pleasures: gourmet food and fresh air.
No Flavor Spared
The key to cooking at a campsite is a seasoned cast iron skillet that infuses a flavor history onto new dishes. Cast iron plays a prominent role in Grant’s American fare, bringing the experience to a whole new level. Wake up to camp coffee and an over easy egg tostada: the fry bread soaks in the flavors and seasons itself. We used a French press for flavorful coffee that’s surprisingly easy to make. Lemon and honey are easy pantry staples to include for tea drinkers. After a day of hiking, exploring, or simply relaxing, dinner in camp is an exceptional pleasure. Cured olive butter crowns a pork chop and asparagus. The chop is browned and crisp on the outside, but each bite tender and bursting with flavor. No camping meal is complete without dessert: the s’more needs no introduction (but perhaps a whittled stick). Local dark chocolate, hand-cut vanilla bean marshmallows, and Justin’s Peanut Butter cups combine for the ultimate s’more experience. In addition to this sticky icon, Grant creamed butter and sugar for a rich, classic strawberry cake baked in cast iron over a bed of hot coals.
The Rocky Mountains are a stage set for relaxation. Pine forests, mountain streams, and fields of wildflowers are an ideal dining room for the menu prepared by GB Culinary. Dessert or not, the true sweet ending to a day in the woods are a few guitar chords, a good book and a place to relax and take in the night sky. This delicious vacation is right out our backdoor. Take this inspiration and get outside this summer: We’re lucky to live in the Rocky Mountains.
Put on some bug spray, tune your guitar fireside and settle in for our top five favorite campfire songs.
Seven Bridges Road- The Eagles
Burn one down- Ben Harper
Uncle John’s Band- Grateful Dead
Free Fallin’-Tom Petty
Camping around Colorado:
Saddlehorn Campground, Colorado National Monument
There are 80 sites that fill up fast since Saddlehorn is the only established campsite in Colorado National Monument. With quite a view of steep red-rock canyons, there are plenty of backcountry desert hiking trails, scenic road biking and premium rock climbing in the park.
Pinyon Flats Campground, Great Sand Dunes National Park
The largest dunes in the United States happen to be here in south central Colorado just east of the San Juan Mountains. Visitors enjoy the challenge of hiking on the massive dunes or sand skiing and snowboarding. Make sure to stop by Zapata Falls on your way home.
Morefield Campground, Mesa Verde National Park
This campground is well known as a quiet, peaceful site – with the advantage of being only a half an hour’s drive from Mesa Verde National park’s renowned archeological sites. Also a great spot for hikers to enjoy trails with a range of difficulty, but plenty of siteseeing.
Oh be Joyful Campground, Crested Butte
Located right by a Colorado mountain town, Oh Be Joyful is amongst an alpine meadow with dispersed campsites along a dirt road just north of town. This campsite is on blm land so there is no fee and not a lot of fellow campers. There’s plenty of great kayaking and fishing along the Slate river, and fresh mountain pools for a swim on hot summer days.
Cooking at the Campsite
What you’ll need:
Tongs – You’ll need a sturdy pair of metal tongs. Get a set that is at least 16” long and that can quickly lock and unlock.
Gloves – A pair of heat resistant gloves is a good idea
Coleman Grill – Comes in handy when preparing a camp feast. It heats up fast, is safe and easy to use, and is durable for many future camping trips.
Cast Iron – I can’t say enough about cast iron. It’s cheap, dependable, controls heat well and lasts a lifetime if well cared for.
Table Settings: Lightweight and durable silverware, mugs and plates. Stainless steel and titanium are excellent choices.
Camp Libations – Grapefruit mimosas with breakfast. Local beer and Moscow Mules are a must around an evening around the campfire.
- Fry bread tostada, over easy egg, mushrooms, broccolini, grilled tomato sauce, baby lettuces, cilantro, & cotija cheese
- Seared bone-in pork chop & asparagus w/ lemon cured olive butter Grilled beets, potatoes, & carrots w/ lemon rosemary pesto
- Campfire strawberry cake
Campfire Strawberry Cake
1 c. flour, all-purpose 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 4 tbl butter, softened 2/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbl sugar, divided 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 large egg 1⁄2 cup buttermilk 2 cups strawberries, fresh & sliced
To eat: 1. Scrape coals away from the fire off to the side of the fire pit. Make a line of the coals 8-9 in long
and 3-4 wide. Set two logs or rocks of relative size on either side as a stand for your cast iron. The pan should be able to sit on the logs or rocks and be over the coals but a few inches off of them. 2. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt and set aside. 3. Mixt the butter with the 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy and creamy. Add the vanilla and egg and stir to combine.
Mix the dry into the butter mixture alternating with the butter to keep the clumps out. 4. Pour the batter into a cast iron rubbed down with butter and cover the top in strawberries. 5. Dust with remaining sugar and lay foil on top of the skillet. Place on the logs or rocks and cook for 12-15 mins or until done.
If you have a dutch oven this works well. You can also have the dry mix done before and the butter & sugar whipped (just has to stay at room temp until ready to use!)
Sweet Tea Grilled Bone-in Pork Chop w/ Asparagus & Cured Olive Butter
2 center cut bone-in pork chops, 1-1” thick 10-12 asparagus spears
Brine 6 cups of water 12 red tea bags 1⁄4 cup sugar 1⁄2 cup salt 15 ea. black peppercorns
Olive Butter 1⁄2 cup cured, pitted black olives 8 tbl butter, softened 1 sprig rosemary lemon juice, to taste
To brine the pork: 1. Bring water, sugar, salt, & peppercorns to a boil. Simmer until sugar and salt are dissolved.
2. Place tea bags in and steep for 30 mins or until cool. 3. Submerge pork chops in a bag with the brine and place in a container(so it doesnt leak). Place in the refrigerator until ready to pack.
For the olive butter: 1. In a food processor place the olives and rosemary and pulse until smooth.
2. In a bowl beat the butter until fluffy and soft. 3. Fold in the olive puree and season with black pepper & lemon juice as needed. 4. Lay plastic wrap on the table and spoon the olive butter mixture in a straight line down the middle. Roll the plastic until it resembles a cylinder. Roll tight and tie the ends. Place in the refrigerator until ready to pack.
To eat: 1. Place a cast iron skillet over the campfire and heat oil until a oil is loose and pan is hot.
4. Flip the chops and add the asparagus around. Be sure to keep an eye on the heat from the fire. After another 3-4 mins on the second side, take the pan off the heat and remove the chops, setting them aside in a warm place to rest. 5. Top the chop with a few asparagus spears and a slice of olive butter. Enjoy!
Ultimate Grain Free Granola and Trail Mix
- 2 cups chopped nuts (1 cup raw walnuts, 1/2 cup raw cashews, and ½ cup raw sliced almonds)
- 1/2 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup dried fruit (1/2 cup cranberries and ½ cup goji berries)
- ½ cup cocoa nibs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg white, whisked until frothy
1. Combine coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat, stirring, just until combined. Take off heat. Stir in salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Combine nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit and cocoa nibs and pour oil mixture into the nut/fruit mixture.
3. Add in egg white and combine further by hand, making sure everything is coated well.
4. Transfer granola onto baking sheet, arranging it in one even layer. Place baking sheet in the oven.
5. Bake granola for at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until dry and golden. Rotate the pan if the granola is browning unevenly.
6. Once cooled, break the granola apart into whatever sized chunks you prefer. Store in an airtight container and bring along while you hit the trials or as your morning granola.