I love the outdoors and I feel so lucky that I grew up with a yearly camping trip tradition in my family. This trip has evolved throughout the years, and now we have great systems in place to make sure that we have a great camp-out and enjoy some delicious food and festivities as well.
This week I took my son camping with a large group of my extended family. Last year we started the tradition of me taking my son camping for 3 nights & 4 days with my parents, aunt and uncle, brother and sister in law and my cousin. For an afternoon we were also joined by some family friends.
It all started several months ago with a fun breakfast meeting to plan out the meals, the annual camp August birthday party and a run-through of who would provide what meal/equipment.
Usually each family/couple provides 1-2 meals. This year I made a lunch and a breakfast. For my lunch, featured here, I made al pastor tacos with fresh tortillas, a veggie assortment, chips and guacamole. We all pitched in to help with this meal.
This delicious camp meal started out with prep work back in my home kitchen. First, I made the sauce and al pastor taco meat, placed it in a freezer bag and froze it until I placed it in our cooler for the trip up to the lake campsite. I brought masa mix, a tortilla press, a freezer bag, salt, carrots, peppers, olives, celery, avocados and limes to the campsite to prepare there.
At the campsite, we heated up the meat in a pot on the camp stove. Meanwhile, my mom heated up a a frying pan on the other burner of the camp stove greased with bacon grease from that morning's breakfast. I mixed up the masa mix, pressed the tortillas and my mom cooked them.
My cousin Helen cut up the veggies and some fresh pineapple to round out the meal while my sister in law Kim cleverly made the guacamole by placing pieces of avocado in a large gallon bag with lime and salt. She then pressed on the bag to smash it together. It was delicious!
My mom also came up with a clever way to keep the tortillas warm. She placed a plate above the heating taco meat with a towel over it and it kept the tortillas nice and hot for serving.
Delicious fresh tortillas kept warm on the camp stove.
We all sure enjoyed these tacos for a lovely camp lunch.
Here are some more camping tips for dining outdoors:
- It is handy to have a kitchen prep table where you can cut vegetables and fruit and also set up a dish washing station there. We also had towels, cutlery and other supplies stored there.
- Make sure to keep anything that is not in a sealed container locked in your car at all times. If you leave bags open, chipmunks and birds will surely help themselves.
- If you have a large group of people eating at your picnic table, you may extend it by bringing a piece of plywood & attaching it with clamps as my uncle did.
- A large piece of oil cloth works very well for a camp table cover.
I hope that these tips help you for your next camping trip or picnic experience.
Now, for the yummy taco recipe!
Al Pastor Taco Meat: (This recipe serves 6-8 but I doubled it for our trip)
10 large dried pasilla peppers- all seeds and stems removed (these are the most easily found dried peppers found in the Hispanic foods section at most grocery stores. Usually 2 bags of peppers will be plenty)
1 1/2 cups water
1 containers (about 2 cups) grape tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon sugar or honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1/2" to 1" thick pieces
You may serve this meat with tortillas, lime slices, salsa, guacamole, chopped fresh onion or cilantro if desired.
1. Put the chiles (make sure seeds are taken out & stems are removed) into a large Dutch oven, toast them for 1-2 minutes. Add the water, grape tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, sugar or honey. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, stir occasionally for about 20 minutes.
2. While the sauce is simmering, trim slices from the pork shoulder. It has a large piece of fat on it, but work to get as many pieces trimmed of fat as you can off of the shoulder as you can.
3. Transfer the chile/tomato mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the chile mixture through a fine metal mesh strainer into a bowl. Press on the mixture with a spatula to get as much liquid out as possible.
4. Return the sauce to the pot and add the meat. Stir the mixture to make sure the meat is thoroughly coated. Partially cover the pot with a lid and cook for 90-105 minutes. Make sure to flip meat halfway through cooking. Save the sauce in the pot for coating the meat after it is grilled and chopped.
5. Take the meat out of the pot with tongs. Next you are going to grill the meat slightly on both sides so it gets a slight char and a smoky flavor. You may grill the meat on a gas grill or a charcoal grill over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side, or you may broil the meat in an oven for a few minutes until the meat is slightly charred. After grilling, let the meat cool for a few minutes before chopping it.
6. When the meat is slightly cooled, chop with a chef's knife on a cutting board into small bite-size pieces.
7. Put the chopped meat back into the pot and stir around in the sauce to coat. Add a bit of lime juice to the sauce.
8. Now, you are ready to assemble and enjoy your tacos!
I hope that you enjoy these tacos and your next camping adventure!
If you enjoyed this post, pass it on to your favorite campers & taco enthusiasts!