With the weather getting better day by day, and the long, hazy summer months creeping closer, we’re all turning our thoughts to one thing: the classic campfire. Whether it’s a barbecue with friends, a trip into nature or just gathering your mates around the firepit, we’ve got some delicious ideas for creating the best fireside food using something you’ve likely got lying about in your kitchen cupboard: foil.
What’s so great about foil?
As we all know from school science lessons, metal conducts heat – so wrapping food in foil will still cook it, in other words.
But foil has some neat advantages: not only does it prevent the top of your food from burning or browning too fast, but it locks in moisture and ensures your food cooks more evenly, too.
Does foil make my food cook faster?
No, it doesn’t, but with it cooking more evenly, you could argue it makes it much more tasty. Cooking in foil also means you won’t have to watch the flames catching on the food so easily – and for things like meat, you won’t have to worry that it will be dry on the outside and raw in the centre.
What foods can I cook in foil?
When it comes to campfire cooking, the sky is really the limit. Some of our favourite foil-wrapped campside foods include:
- Chicken: A versatile meat for any kind of meal, chicken cooks beautifully inside foil. Pack in any vegetables you like – try with peppers, pineapple and BBQ sauce or go Italian with broccoli, courgette and tomatoes in herbs – then crimp the edges to lock in the steam. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear and there’s no pink meat showing in the centre.
- Fish: A classic from posh restaurant to relaxing deck chair, foil-wrapped fish – like salmon – sears the meat on the outside while steaming gently on the inside. You can even stick some veggies in there, like asparagus. You want the fish to be flaky and light pink for serving.
- Prawns: Throw some prawns, rice and corn together for a healthy meal, or whip up a surf ‘n’ turf with prawns and steak. Having prawns on a campfire is surprisingly delicious!
- Burgers: You might be surprised to hear a burger can be cooked in foil, but it’s true – and you’ll get all the tasty flavours of your veggies when you stick the lot in a foil packet. All you need to do is toss them in a bun and serve, though check the meat first. While some like their burgers pink, others prefer them well-done.
- Banana split: A fab idea for kids, chuck a banana in a piece of foil then add all your favourite toppings for a super-easy pud. Try caramel sauce and ice cream for a take on banoffee; whack in some marshmallows and crumbled digestives for all the flavours of a New York cheesecake; or slather in chocolate chunks and peanut butter.
- Crumble: Puddings are no problem on a campfire. You can gently toast oats while warming through delicious berries like blueberries and raspberries, just by wrapping them up in foil. Serve on the opened foil packet afterwards and top with a dollop of custard, cream or ice cream (or all three).
- Popcorn: A solid snack loved by nearly everyone, just pop into a foil tin and top with rolled foil, then wait for the popping to start.
- Pizza: Another one that’s an unexpectedly welcome addition to the campfire: pizza. Dough is easy enough to make (and you can always cheat with a packet mix), and it has the advantage of being veggie-friendly (depending on your toppings, of course). If you want to crisp up the cheese, simply open the foil towards the end of cooking.
- Jacket potato: One of our favourites, this can be dressed-up as much as you like. Cheese and spring onion with flecks of bacon is a classic choice for a loaded baked potato, or you could even whip up a chili for a Mexican take.
What tools will I need?
As everything will be contained in the foil – and you’re left waiting for the food to cook – the only bits you’ll need are something heat-proof to take the foil out of the fire.
Tongs and oven gloves are pretty much essential, and it might be worth investing in a food thermometer to check the temperature of meats like chicken, pork and fish.