Overland Chef: Winter 2008 Menu

Winter 2008′s Overland Chef menu centers around freshly baked bread – an especially delicious and easy version that involves no kneading. It’s true. You have to try it to believe it.

The Menu:

Starters & Drinks ~ Chipotle popcorn and micro brew ale

Dinner ~ Ribollita with freshly baked bread and butter

Wine Pairing ~ For white, a vouvray or white burgundy; for red, a chianti classico or a new beaujolais

Dessert ~ Pumpkin cobbler

No-knead Bread

Serves: 4-6 | Time: 4½ hours to rise, 40 minues to cook | Equipment: Large Dutch oven (10+ quart, preferably 7” depth or more), small trivet for inside oven, and 8” pie or cake pan | Recipe by Mark Bittman; adapted for camp by Roseann Hanson

3 cups flour
1 packet (¼-ounce) instant yeast
1½ teaspoons salt

Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl or pot. Add 1½ cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy (more like batter than dough). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest undisturbed for about 4 hours at around 70 degrees (the warmth is important for the yeast to grow and develop flavor; if it’s cold, use a hot water bottle or two).

After 4 hours, use a wide plastic bowl scraper to lift and fold the dough over onto itself several times; it will still be loose and sticky. Cover again and let sit 30 minutes.

At least an hour before dough is ready, get your fire going (if using charcoal briquettes, start them in a chimney 20 minutes or so before). Put the trivet and cake pan in the Dutch oven and pre-heat the oven over coals until it is very hot—at least 10 minutes with very hot coals (if it’s too cool the crust will stick to the cake pan). When ready, dump and scrape the batter into the cake pan (which helps contain it, since it is still pretty goopy) and replace the lid; add coals on top. Keep the heat pretty high but check every 10 – 15 minutes by quickly lifting the lid; it’s easy to burn. Cook 40 minutes or so—it should be nicely browned and hollow-sounding when thumped. Remove from oven (I use pliers to grab the cake pan), tip out of cake pan, and let cool on a rack; the trivet works well. Notes: I burned the outside of my first loaf, but the inside was still tasty; the second loaf I didn’t have a hot enough oven and it browned nicely but stuck to the cake pan. If you have a small but deep oven, you can try pouring the batter right into the oven but reduce direct heat on the bottom, to avoid burning the crust.

While the bread is baking, prepare the rest of your menu. Crack open some micro-brew ales, and make some chipotle popcorn:

Chipotle Popcorn

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium heave pot (with lid) over medium-high heat – place one popcorn kernel in the middle and close the lid. Use good-quality fresh, organic popcorn and a good corn oil – it makes a difference. When the kernel pops, pour in 1/4 cup kernels and put the lid back on. Give the pot a shake every minute to keep it from scorching. Kernels will start popping furiously. When the popping nearly stops remove from heat and keep shaking. Salt with sea salt and sprinkle with chipotle powder (from Penzeys.com).

Ribollita

This is a classic peasant dish from Italy – it means literally ‘reboiled’ and was a way to use up leftove minestrone and other dishes. Since we won’t be making minestrone from scratch, this is a ‘jive’ recipe I developed using canned goods that’s great in camp. If you have dried beans, use your pressure cooker to make short work of them (see Overland Chef Fall 2008).

  • 2 cans cannellini (white, Navy) beans, drained, reserve
  • 2 Italian sausages
  • 1 leek, chopped (or onion)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup savoy cabbage, chopped (any cabbage will do)
  • 1 bunch kale or greens, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 bunch sage, shredded
  • 1 12-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 1/4 cups stock
  • fresh oregano

Cook sausages in bottom of large heavy pot in oil. Remove, keep warm. Saute leek or onion in oil in pot. Add cabbage, kale, celery, carrots, garlic, half of sage, tomatoes, 3/4 C stock. Cover and cook until wilted/soft but not mushy -about 5 minutes. Test. Add rest of stock. Mash a couple of spoonfuls of beans (about 1/3 of
total) and add. Simmer for about 20 min. Slice sausages into bites. Add rest of whole beans, sausages, lots of salt/pepper, more sage, fresh oregano, and heat through. It’s better the longer it sits, for the flavors to blend.
Pumpkin Cobbler

This dessert is a kind of pumpkin cake-pie hybrid, not really a true cobbler, and it’s kind of odd to make. But the result is what I call ‘stupid-good.’ Ignore the fact it has a boatload of butter, evaporated milk, and several cups of sugar. It’s good for you when camping. And it’s got vegetables in it. See? (Recipe by Shepherd’s Seeds; if you are overlanding in Centrall or South America or Africa, you’ll have lots of access to squash and pumpkin – wrap some in foil and cook over your fire.)

For the batter:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 cups cooked mashed pumpkin or squash
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, cloves, nutmeg, each
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter

For the crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Filling: Combine eggs, milk and pumpkin; add the rest of the ingredients, mix well.
Crust: melt butter in medium Dutch oven. In another bowl, mix remaining crust ingredients until just combined, and pour into Dutch oven on top of butter.
Combine: Spoon the filling batter carefully over the crust batter. Do not stir. Yes, this is odd, and it looks like a mess, but trust me it works. Dot the top with the remaining butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 1 hour over medium heat (approximate 350 degree-oven).

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