Meals like this do a couple things for me at base camp. As comfort food, they stir up happy memories, and at the same time, their familiar flavors bring on a sense of anticipation.
I remember eggs in a hole were always a special joy when I was a child. My three little brothers and I called them “Popeye Eggs” back then, and we loved to eat them while watching Saturday morning cartoons. Nowadays, I find they pair perfectly with a sunrise and the thrill of adventures yet to come — just a great way to start off the day.
I believe breakfast is the perfect meal to be both savory and sweet. There’s something to please most everyone in this combination, with the mesquite smoke from an open fire mingling with the brown-sugar sear of caramelized chops and the crispy crunch of country-style potatoes.
I hope you will enjoy these three recipes, they are some of my all-time campsite favorites.
CAMP EGGS IN A HOLE
- 1 egg per serving
- 1 slice of your favorite bread per serving (my go-to is sourdough)
- Butter (or substitute vegetable, coconut or avocado oil)
- Fresh-cracked black pepper
- Coarse-ground kosher salt
- Salsa fresca (optional)
- Ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sliced or grated cheese (optional)
- Using the rim of a glass, or a cooking spray cap or a knife, cut a hole about 2 inches in diameter in the middle of the bread. Remove and save the cut-out piece.
- Next, add a pat of butter to the center of a Skottle, skillet or cast-iron frying pan, set to medium heat.
- While the butter melts in the pan, butter both sides of the bread slice. You can butter the removed “hole” piece and fry it, too (trust me, you’ll want to dip this treat into the yolk).
- Place bread on the heated surface and pan-fry until it begins to brown on the first side.
- Flip the bread and cook the other side until it turns golden brown (ditto for the hole piece).
- Add a little more butter or oil to the Skottle or pan through the opening in the bread, then crack the egg open and drop it into the hole. Take care to avoid breaking the yolk.
- Let the egg cook for a minute or two. Adjust as you like – less time for a runnier egg, more for a harder yolk. If you’re going with sunny side up, flipping the bread is optional (and in that case, I find it’s helpful to let the first side of the bread brown a bit more, back in Step 4).
- For an egg cooked any other way, you will carefully turn the bread over. In preparation, lift the edge of the bread with a spatula to make sure the egg has solidified sufficiently – it will “set” into the bread when ready. You can drizzle a bit of oil or butter on top of the egg before flipping, to help make sure it doesn’t stick on that side while it finishes.
- Once the bread is uniformly golden brown and the egg is cooked as desired, remove from pan and keep warm, or slide it to the outer edge of the Skottle while meal-prep continues.
- Plate and finish the dish with fresh-cracked black pepper and a dash of salt. You can top the egg in a hole with sliced or grated cheese, or experiment with the spices and flavors you like best. I add salsa fresca and a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper – it kicks up the heat and delivers great health benefits, too.
- 4 pork chops, thick country cut, approximately 7-8 ounces – bone-in or boneless will work, but I prefer bone-in, as they have more flavor
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse-ground kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat, coconut oil or avocado oil for pan-frying
- Long cooking tongs
- Grilling gloves
- Thirty minutes before cooking, remove chops from the cooler or fridge and allow them to come up to ambient temperature.
- Start your cooking fire. Preparing the chops is a two-part process – they’re flame-grilled, then finished in a Skottle or cast-iron skillet. I usually grill them over a mesquite-wood camp fire, but you can use a charcoal or propane grill instead. For best results with wood, coals or gas, aim for a medium-high to high cooking temp.
- Mix the brown sugar, kosher salt, smoked paprika and black pepper together in a small bowl to make the seasoning rub.
- Sprinkle half the rub on the chops. Pat it in to make sure the seasonings stick well and coat all sides of the meat evenly. Reserve the remaining rub.
- Cook the seasoned chops to medium-rare over the flames. Turn once and allow them to carmelize, about 4-6 minutes per side. While the chops are cooking, begin preheating your Skottle or skillet to medium-high – you want it fairly hot to get a good sear on the chops. Also, if your chops are on the large side, you may choose to use two skillets to prevent crowding.
- Remove the chops from the grill and sprinkle them with the remaining rub.
- Add rendered fat or oil to the Skottle or skillet and let it heat until it just barely starts to smoke.
- Place chops in the hot skillet. The oil will likely pop a bit, so be careful. Sear until a lovely brown crust develops, usually 2-3 minutes per side. Times are approximate, so adjust as needed for boneless or thinner cuts. Avoid under- or over-cooking – you’re all set when a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of each chop.
- Once they are nice and crusty, either transfer the chops to the outer ring of the Skottle while you finish meal-prep, or remove from the skillet and let them warm-rest, about 8-10 minutes before serving.
- 2 medium-large russet potatoes, skin on and cubed
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (medium-small, but not minced)
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped (medium-small, but not minced)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon coarse-ground kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Skottle or heavy 12-inch skillet set to medium-high. Do not let the oil smoke.
- Add chopped pepper and onion and sauté until browned and softened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning. When done, remove from skillet and transfer to a bowl, or slide mixture to the cool outer edge of the Skottle.
- While the onions and peppers are cooking, place cubed potatoes into a large sauce pan. Add just enough cool water to cover the potatoes. They should float slightly.
- Place the pan over high heat on a burner or camp fire. As soon as the water begins to boil (about 5-10 minutes), remove pan from heat and drain the potatoes into a colander.
- Return the Skottle or skillet where the onions and peppers were cooked to medium-high heat, and add the butter and remaining olive oil. When the butter foams, add the potatoes.
- Allow potatoes to cook for 4-5 minutes. Do not stir – you want them to crisp up. As they brown on one side, carefully flip the potatoes and brown the other sides. This process should take 10-15 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are crispy brown on all sides, add the onions and peppers back to the skillet or Skottle. Add the salt, black pepper and smoked paprika, and gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and serve.