Cast Iron Camp Oven Cooking – Yukon Gold Scalloped Potatoes w Caramelized Onions in a Griswold #10 Cast Iron Camp Oven
In September, my camping friends and I headed to beautiful Glendalough State Park in Northern Minnesota for a fall weekend of hiking, tent camping, friendship, campfires, fun, and food.
This group is big on food and cooking. We have huge delicious breakfasts created by Doug and cooked in his Griswold #20 cast iron hotel skillet. Saturday morning’s breakfast is often a hash with sausage and bacon and root vegetables. Sunday morning’s breakfast is always “leftover hash” in that skillet, using leftovers from the previous evening’s feast.
Our group has a big potluck for our Saturday evening meal. Regardless of how many people we have camping with us on a particular weekend, we have more food than the group could possible eat. And it is always fantastic!
On this particular camping trip, I got it into my head that I should try cooking in a cast iron camp oven, as I had one offered for sale on the site, but had never before tried cooking in one. I set my heart and taste buds on scalloped potatoes. I am not sure why that happened, as I had never made them before and rarely indulge in dishes that have of loads of butter and cheese, but scalloped potatoes it had to be.
Wow, were they good. Fussy preparation, but oh my so delicious. Compliments abounded.
How did you make them, you ask? Why, let me tell you all about it!
Yukon Gold Scalloped Potatoes with Caramelized Onions in a Griswold #10 Cast Iron Camp Oven
EQUIPMENT TO BRING CAMPING
- Mandoline (or a really sharp knife and cutting board, and the ability to thinly slice gobs of potatoes into slices of equal diameter – which I don’t have).
- Vegetable peeler
- Cast Iron Camp Stove w lid (I used a fabulous #10 Griswold camp oven)
- Charcoal briquettes (I brought, and used, an entire ~6 lb package of self-lighting briquettes) and lighter
- Big ol’ container into which to place the potatoes once sliced
- Grater and container to hold the grated cheese
- Pam spray vegetable or canola oil
- A container into which to place the hot roux/milk mixture
- Aluminum foil (optional)
- Cooler with ice (obviously…)
- Long handled tongs
- Long handled serving spoon
- Long handled lid lifter
- 2 large yellow onions
- 4T butter
- About 1 c chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 6 – 7 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
- 3T butter
- 3T flour
- ~1½ cups milk or heavy cream (I used 2% milk and ended up needing about 2 cups)
- 5 oz block of Gruyere cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme from your garden (or a neighbor’s garden, or if desperate – dried)
- Big handful of parsley from your garden
- Salt and pepper to taste
The day before camping:
- Cut the onions in ~¼” slices. Melt 4T butter in a large heavy cast iron skillet (I used my “new” old Griswold Iron Mountain #12 skillet.
- Caramelize the onions. Take your time! Here are some common mistakes when caramelizing onions, per Bon Appetit.
- Deglaze the pan with the cup of chicken stock, stirring until the stock is absorbed into the onions.
- Cool, place in zip lock plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight.
- Clean, dry, and chop the parsley. Clean and remove leaves from thyme sprigs. Peel and mince garlic cloves. Place all in a small zip lock bag and refrigerate. (I am lazy; I actually just put the sprigs and leaves in the mix and then removed the stems after cooking).
- Pack your car and cooler with the insane amount of equipment you need to make these delicious potatoes.
Directions for day of:
- Place about 2/3 of the briquettes in a fire ring and light.
- Peel and slice the potatoes paper-thin. I used my mandoline.
- Grate the Gruyere cheese into a container.
- Spray the camp oven with Pam.
- Make a roux with the butter and flour: Slowly melt 3T butter in the camp oven over an open fire. Add the flour a bit at a time; whisking to avoid lumps.
- Slowly add the milk to the roux, whisking constantly. Stir in thyme leaves, parsley, and garlic. Remove the mixture from the oven and set aside.
- Arrange a layer of overlapping sliced potatoes on the bottom of the oven. Sprinkle a layer of the caramelized onions over; followed by a layer of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Continuing layering the overlapping potatoes, onions, and cheese; ending with cheese (I had 3 or 4 layers of potatoes). Lightly salt and pepper each layer.
- Pour milk mixture over.
- I put aluminum over the top of the oven and then placed the lid on top because of my concern about ashes falling into the potatoes. It was not necessary; it was easy for me to keep the ashes out of the potatoes.
- Using long-handled tongs, take about “ready” (ashen-colored) briquettes and place on a fire-safe surface. I cleared a spot on dirt. Place the camp oven with lid over the briquettes. Place “ready” briquettes on top of the lid. **The goal is to try to get to 400 degrees and to cook for about an hour. There are many charts on the web about the proper number of briquettes to use; you can find one here. As you can see, I used plenty. Basically, I aimed for about 1/3 beneath the oven and 2/3 on top.
- Using the lid lifter, rotate the lid 45 degrees every 15 minutes or so to avoid hot spots. Also use the lifter to rotate the entire oven 45 degrees about every 15 minutes.
- Once done (mine cooked for about 90 minutes and a more experienced camp cooker who viewed my briquette set up opined that I was cooking at about 500 degrees – oops but hey it worked!) remove the camp oven to a serving area.
- Scoop up the potatoes and enjoy, and savor the compliments. I had my potatoes alongside a delicious rib-eye steak, which I prepared in Doug’s trusty #20 Griswold hotel skillet.
I was one very happy camper. 🙂