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Outdoor Kitchen: Comfort food in the great outdoors 

Go 'nuts

click to enlarge go-kitchen-donut_holes-w2023.jpg


Recent years have brought forward a ton of glamping trends, and that includes camp-side cuisine. TikTok video after TikTok video show dry-rubbed filets, ever-so-carefully smushed garlic bulbs, and freshly picked herbs all coming together in the great outdoors. Gone are the days of PB&Js your mom slapped together before loading everyone into the station wagon.

While it seems like a lot of work to cook outside, you don’t have to be a Michelin star chef to create fantastic meals just feet from your sleeping bag. In fact, skip the bougie, complicated plates and start your day off the American way—with carbs, fat, and sugar in the form of campfire doughnuts. What more could you need to fuel up for a big day of adventure? Or, if you’re the sensible sort, make campfire doughnuts as an end-of-day treat when you return from an epic quest.

While the thought of hot oil in the woods does raise some red flags, if you set yourself up for safety either with a camp stove or a well contained campfire, you can create these delicious, pillowy treats with just a few ingredients and within a few minutes once setup is complete. When you’re thinking of your grocery list, add four simple things to make these delicious treats possible. You’ll need to gather a pot that can hold a couple of inches of oil or vegetable shortening, canned biscuits, sugar, and cinnamon. Then you’re just a few quick steps away from enjoying this tasty treat!

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANNA STARKEY
Step 1

Start with a big can of Crisco, or whatever your preferred brand of vegetable shortening is. Since it comes in solid form, this is a packable, easy oil to use for outdoor cooking. Ideally, a thermometer will help you monitor the oil temperature, but if you don’t have one, you can make do by performing small test batches as you work. The oil should stay right around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows the dough to cook and the outside to crisp up without getting too dark.

Step 2

Pop open your can of biscuits—try and stay away from the “flaky layers” style biscuits; they don’t work well here. I like to use a narrow shot glass to pop out the middle of each biscuit to create the classic doughnut shape, and the bonus is a batch of doughnut holes that are a perfect taste for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to a full-sized treat. You can cut the biscuits into whatever shape you want—smaller shapes work better for cooking evenly and thoroughly. Beignet style pillowy squares are another favorite.

Step 3

Drop your biscuits into the hot oil. Keep in mind that this will most likely lower your oil temp a bit, so keep an eye on your thermometer and watch how the dough reacts when it meets the oil. Cook the donuts in batches for a couple of minutes on each side—turning with tongs several times to ensure even cooking in the oil.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANNA STARKEY
Step 4

Once the doughnuts are cooked through and golden brown, carefully remove from the hot oil and transfer to a lunch-sized paper bag containing your cinnamon-sugar mix and shake to coat the doughnuts. If cinnamon sugar isn’t your thing, try powdered sugar or chocolate for dipping or drizzling. Half the fun of these sweet treats is tailoring them to your taste!

Step 5

Sit back by the fire, pour yourself another cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and enjoy this indulgent and delicious outdoor breakfast that is sure to please the whole camping crew!


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