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Survival expert Ray Mears shows there’s more to cooking outdoors than burnt sausages with four delicious recipes


July. 13, 2020

EATING outdoors need not mean chomping on raw chicken or a burnt sausage.
With just basic equipment and know-how, a tasty soup, succulent steak or fabulous fishcakes are just some of the treats you can cook up on a campfire.
Survival expert Ray Mears’ new book, Wilderness Chef: The Ultimate Guide To Cooking Outdoors, features ingenious ways to conjure a feast whether you’re out camping, on a long hike or enjoying a day at the beach.
TV host Ray, 56, who lives in Sussex with his wife Ruth and stepson, says: “At its simplest, the outdoor kitchen can be the lee of a mountain boulder –  at its most elaborate, a full-blown safari kitchen tent.”
Here are four recipes from the book.
Campfire Bread
(Makes two loaves)
EQUIPMENT: This is cooked on broiling sticks such as birch over an oven campfire.
2 cups (250g) plain flour 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt About ⅔ cup (175ml) water, preferably warm
METHOD: Take a green stick of a non-toxic wood such as birch.
Look for one that’s 5cm (2in) thick but if this is not possible, thumb thickness will do.
Carve one end of the stick so it can be pushed into the ground or snow.
Shave off the bark from the top 30-40cm (12-16in) of the stick.
Mix the dry ingredients well and add warm water little by little until a smooth, fairly dry dough forms.
You may not need all the water, or you may need a drop more. The water can be added cold but better results are achieved with warm water.
Only a light kneading is required, just to bring the dough together. Form it into a ball and flatten into a flat loaf shape about thumb-thickness high.
If using the thick stick, heat over the fire to scorching point then form the dough over the end, wrapping it down the sides.
If using a thinner stick, heat to scorching point and roll a long thin sausage of dough between your palms.
Wrap the sausage around the stick in a spiral fashion, leaving a small, finger-wide gap between the turns of the spiral.
Plant the stick so that it is tilted towards the heat at the side of the fire.
Rotate as necessary to cook the dough evenly.
Serve with butter and jam or with fat or juices collected from any meat or fish that is also cooking over the fire.
Canoe Camp Fishcakes
(Makes 8–10 fishcakes)
EQUIPMENT: Frying pan over an open campfire.
1 cup (100g) dehydrated powdered mashed potato 213g (7½oz) can of wild Alaskan salmon 1 tsp dried mixed herbs Good pinch of salt Good pinch of ground black pepper Flour, for rolling Groundnut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
METHOD: Reconstitute the dehydrated potato, following packet instructions.
Add the salmon, herbs and seasoning and mix it all together with your hands.
Roll into small balls, 5cm (2in) in diameter. Roll each ball in some flour then flatten into a fishcake.
Heat the pan, then the oil, and fry the fishcakes for about three minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.
VARIATIONS: If your fishing has been successful, use well-filleted and carefully deboned fresh fish instead of the canned salmon, and add 1 tbsp of reconstituted egg powder to help bind it all together.
If you have the foraging skill, look for some fresh herbs to incorporate.
Even a pinch of very finely chopped spruce needles will work.
Spanish Omlette
(Serves 2)
EQUIPMENT: Frying pan with lid or a billycan with lid, slotted spoon, bowl, knife
1 potato 1 onion (optional) 4 tbsp olive oil 2-3 eggs (depending on pan size) Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
METHOD: Peel and finely chop the potato and onion. While the onion lends flavour, it is not essential to the omelette.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a wide billycan or frying pan over a medium campfire heat, then add the potato, and onion if using.
Shallow-fry for about 15 minutes, until soft. (I use a billycan because the frying pan I carry is not deep enough to shallow-fry the ingredients safely.)
While the potato and onion are cooking, beat the eggs in a bowl and season.
Once cooked through, drain the potato and onion with a slotted spoon and add to the egg mixture.
Fold them in well. Heat your frying pan or billycan lid over a low heat, add the remaining oil and, once hot, pour in the egg mixture.
Cook gently. The aim is to cook the tortilla two-thirds through without scorching the base. Beware the ultra-thin pan!
Once the tortilla becomes sufficiently solid to turn over, place a plate over the pan, then invert both together.
All being well, the tortilla will be sitting on the plate and can be slid back into the pan to complete cooking.
When finished, place a clean plate on top of the pan and flip it over to turn out the finished tortilla.
VARIATION: Alternatively, the potato can be grated and fried in less oil in a pan. This method suits cooking on a hike stove as less fuel will be consumed.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
(Serves 8)
EQUIPMENT: Hiking stove, small pot, knife
1 onion 1 carrot 1 celery stalk 1 leek 1 garlic clove 2 potatoes 2-3 bacon rashers 1 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp tomato puree Sprig of thyme 1 bay leaf 400g can chopped tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes, chopped 500ml fish stock 1kg clams Dash of Worcestershire Sauce Salt and ground black pepper Parsley sprigs to garnish Crackers, to serve
METHOD: Before cooking the clams, check for any broken shells or clams that don’t close when tapped – these are dead and shouldn’t be eaten.
Dirty shells should be scrubbed clean.
Soak the clams in heavily salted cold water for 20 minutes, then in fresh, unsalted water for ten minutes.
Steam the clams by putting them in a small pot with a little water until their shells open.
Meanwhile peel and dice the onion, carrot, celery, leek and garlic. Quarter the potatoes and dice the bacon.
Heat the oil, then add the bacon and brown over a medium heat.
Add the onion, carrot, celery and leek and sweat down for about 15 minutes until the onion and leek are translucent.
Add the garlic and tomato puree, thyme and bay leaf. Cook for two minutes, then add the clam cooking liquid, tomatoes, fish stock and potatoes.
Bring to a high simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.
Season to taste and add a good splash of Worcestershire Sauce, then add the clams and cook for five minutes.
Season to taste, then garnish with parsley and serve with crackers.
Wilderness Chef: The Ultimate Guide To Cooking Outdoors, by Ray Mears, is published by Conway, priced £20, out now.
Trailer for ITV programme Survival with Ray Mears
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