I absolutely love sharing my outdoors lifestyle via this column each week. I must – I’ve been writing it for just over three decades.
As an outdoors writer, I find myself continually exposed to folks that are skilled in all sorts of outdoor endeavors, and from each I manage to learn something useful that I can share with you.
Just about the time when I think that I know it all about a particular subject, along comes someone with a different and often better way of getting it done.
About a month ago, I was approached by the folks at Friendlee News, an internet Facebook site with a large following that invited me to begin a weekly outdoor show and cover many of the topics that I write about. It just so happened that one of my good friends, Jeff Rice, is an expert videographer with a passion for capturing the outdoors via his video cameras.
We kicked “Luke Clayton’s Outdoors Show” off and immediately had several thousand viewers. The first couple of shows were shot while I was doing ground work for this column.
This past weekend, on Rice’s Ranch in East Texas, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of fun days filming an outdoor cooking show and a segment devoted to tips for hog hunters. Rice’s father and several other family members were present, so the filming of these campfire cooking segments served two purposes: They made for some good video for the upcoming show and also made for a pretty tasty dinner, if I do say so.
Let me recap the dishes that I prepared – you might wish to put some of the recipes to use on your next outdoor outing or possibly in your backyard. Everything I prepare for camp meals is simple and easy to cook, but it’s also pretty dog-gone tasty.
Dutch Kettle cobbler
I brought my Dutch Kettle along and began prepping dinner with a Dutch Kettle blackberry cobbler. It takes about an hour for the cobbler, so I started it first to give it cooking time while I prepared the remainder of the meal.
I use a No. 10 Dutch Kettle and placed about 10 hot charcoal briquettes under the pot and 15 on top of the recessed lid.
Making a cobbler outdoors is easy. Add a couple quarts or so of blackberries (or canned peaches) a melted stick of butter, 2 cups sugar and a bit of cinnamon.
I cheat a bit and buy a couple of frozen pie shells and crumble them up on top of the cobbler but Bisquick or even small pieces of canned biscuits also works.
After about 45 minutes, carefully remove the lid and check for doneness. The crust on top should be a golden brown.
If there is too much liquid in the cobbler, remove the lid and allow it to bubble along a few minutes, which reduces the liquid.
A few years ago while down in a hunting camp in South Texas, I watched the camp cook prepare what has become a staple camp dish for me.
Begin by sautéing half a chopped onion, five cloves of garlic and a couple of chopped Serrano or jalapeno peppers in a cast iron skillet. I then add a couple of my homemade wild pork smoked links, sliced thinly.
Next, I simply add a couple of cans of beans – I usually buy the cheapest baked beans I can find at the Dollar Store but Pork N Beans will also work just fine. Then, I add a little water and bring the beans to a slow simmer, stirring often to incorporate the ingredients.
Of course, if you are feeding a large crowd, you can add more beans and veggies. These two cans will usually feed five or so hungry diners.
This can also serve as a one-skillet meal that takes about 30 minutes to prepare.
Luke’s soft, blackened fish
I love blackened fish, but a few years ago, I came upon a better method of preparing this tasty dish. True blackened fish requires the seasoned fish fillets be exposed to a white-hot skillet, which results in much smoke. The resulting fillet can be a bit dry and lemon butter is usually added for moisture.
Why not use the same seasoning but lower the temperate to high rather than white hot? This method ensures the fillets are moist and flavorful.
I begin by liberally dusting each fillet with blackening seasoning and placing into a skillet with hot unsalted butter, seasoned side down. I sprinkle the top of the fillet with blackening season and after about six minutes, flip the fillets and cook the top side.
The resulting fillets are moist with a little crust. Just before removing them from the skillet, squeeze a liberal amount of fresh lemon juice on top.
There are all types of blackening seasonings but I’ve found Cabela’s Open Season Blackened Seasoning to be the best.
It’s not too salty it comes in a large container. I am a firm believer in using a generous amount of the seasoning.
With plenty of fresh blue catfish fillets on hand from a recent trip to good ole Lake Tawakoni with guide Tony Pennebaker, it seemed a shame not to add some fried catfish fillets to the meal.
I mix a 50-50 solution of Louisiana Hot sauce and butter milk and allow the fillets to marinate for 30 minutes or so, then dust with a mixture of 70 percent yellow corn meal and 30 percent flour.
A few minutes in hot cooking oil creates some very well-seasoned, crunchy fillets. I consider that last couple minutes of frying time a must to create a crunchy fillet
The meal went over very well with Rice and his family. The next morning, I eased out in the woods with my Airforce Airguns .45-caliber Texan big bore air rifle and harvested a fat 140-pound wild hog.
Four hours after the shot, we were eating pulled pork back strap sandwiches at camp, but that’s another story.