I have a love-hate relationship with chicken-based camping meals. On the love side, the white meat can be enjoyed so many ways—on its own, in a soup or salad, barbecued, boiled, roasted, or served cold in a sandwich. It’s delicious, it’s good for you, and it cooks quickly. On the hate side, it’s a food-prep-hygiene hassle. Raw chicken juice can get everywhere if you’re not careful, and all it takes is one leaky bag in the ice chest to taint a whole load of supplies. Light-pink ice? I’m queasy just thinking about it.
I’m not as squeamish about raw beef, although I know I should be, and we practice safe food handling no matter what we’re eating. Still, working with uncooked steak prompts me to salivate at the thought of the dinner to come while washing my hands. Working with uncooked chicken makes me wash my hands, then wash them again. Maybe it’s because some people enjoy steak tartare, but nobody eats chicken sashimi (as far as I know).
As long as you keep raw food properly contained and sanitize cooking surfaces and utensils after preparation, you shouldn’t let any fear of a particular food stop you from enjoying a good, hearty meal at the campsite—and this is a good, hearty meal with some seriously bold flavors. Double bag the bird bits, isolate them in a small ice chest to prevent cross-contamination, and wash everything thoroughly with hot water.
One way to cut down on campsite dirty dishes—whether they’re smeared with raw chicken juice or just the residue of everything else to be cooked that night—is to do the heavy lifting at home ahead of time. In fact, this recipe works best if the sauce is made in advance and then allowed to soak into the meat.
5 lb package of frozen chicken breasts
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 frozen lemon shredded with a micro plane or fine cheese grater
1 large sprig of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and whisk together. Put the frozen chicken breasts into a sealable container or bag, pour this mixture in, and place the bag in your in ice chest. As the chicken defrosts, it will marinate in the sauce.
Cook the chicken via your preferred method: grill it, skewer it for shish-kebabs, cook it in a cast-iron skillet, or bake it in a Dutch oven. If the chicken is being cooked in the marinade itself, such as in a skillet, allow the marinade to simmer for 20 minutes after the chicken is cooked through. If you’re not cooking the chicken in the marinade, discard any of the sauce left in the bag.
Serve with feta cheese, rice, pita bread, and a Greek salad.
Like the chicken, this can be made in advance. Also like the chicken, that’s more than just a way to avoid dirtying too many dishes at your campsite, since the flavors will mix and intensify if this is allowed to sit for a bit.
5-7 Roma tomatoes sliced in wedges
2 cucumbers, sliced
1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a sealable container or bag. That’s it.
We had the cast-iron skillet version of this chicken, and it was good enough to pull me back for seconds, as well as leftovers the next day.