Jan 3

Campfire Cooking Session 1. Lawrencetown Nova Scotia

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Some people like to kick off the new year with a polar bear dip. For those of you not familiar, that means jumping into the ocean on January 1st to ring in the new year. An insane move to say the least. While I am far too civilized (note the sarcasm) to jump in the frigid sea, I thought it would be cool to head to the beach and cook food over campfire.. At minus 11 degrees celcius plus wind chill… because that is a normal thing to do..

Upon a bit of research myself and my buddy/brother-in-law/cameraman, Jeremy, packed up the Rav and headed to the beach. Not just any beach, but Lawrencetown beach! (For those of you familiar with the area, we actually did this on the beach right before the official Lawrencetown beach.. Think it’s called stoney beach??)  Annnnyway, Lawrencetown Nova Scotia, it’s amazing. Located about 20 minutes outside halifax, Lawrencetown is a world renowned for being a year round surf destination. Brave (read; crazy) surfers tough any conditions to catch waves rolling in from the north atlantic. I have mad respect for these folks who will honestly go out in the middle of a blizzard if the surf is good enough. Passions have a funny way of making you do things that make no sense at all. On that note, back to our cooking adventure!

So after picking up firewood from Dave’s Vegetable Market (incredible spot) we arrived at the beach and went on a ‘look see’ to find the perfect fire pit. The wind was cold, but felt amazing to be on the sand looking out at the waves rolling in. Beauty spot. We decided to set up shop right beside a massive railway tie that must have broken off a wharf (dock for you folks from away) and floated ashore. It would act as the perfect prep station for the cook.

With our spot selected, Jer got right to work building the fire. On top of having a great eye for camera work, he is a firefighter in real life. So left it to the professional while I prepped. Given the fact that this was really my first time cooking over a campfire I kept the ‘menu’ fairly simple by bringing seasonal veggies (butternut squash, brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes), a beautiful top sirloin, and 2 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts. Oh, and a fuck ton of butter, because one must have butter.

So the fire took a bit to get going, but after battling with it for a while we got it ripping. Our goal with the fire was to burn down as much of the wood as we could in an effort to get beautiful red coals that would throw off a ton of heat. Once the coals were glowing, we divided the fire pit into three different sections. The main fire which we would use to make more coals, the “searing station” where we put the hottest coals under a cast iron plank, and a “warming/smoking station”. The warming station had a few coals, but was mainly used to keep the veggies warm while we cooked the rest of the meal. The wood smoke was blowing onto the warming station as well which imparted additional flavor.

So fire is going well and we are finally hitting our groove, I have most of the veggies done which I roasted on the cast iron plank with butter until they were a deep, golden brown. We are feeling pretty good about ourselves and then we notice someone walking toward us dressed all in navy blue…we attracted the HEAT! Po Po! Coppers. The cooking life. Aint easy. Young cop came up and he was actually awesome. Saw the smoke coming up from the beach and wanted to make sure everything was ok and let us know that DND might have an issue with us burning here, but he wasn’t sure. Jer dropped the fact he was with the fire department and we were all good. What a scene for him to walk up to? 2 dudes cooking a massive meal on the beach in minus 11. Likely not what he thought he was going to see. Crisis avoided. Service continues!!

Back to the cook. So my only real concern for this meal was making sure that I was able to cook the chicken the whole way through. I seasoned both chicken breasts with paprika, dried rosemary, basil, thyme, salt, and of course butter (see above comment). Once seasoned I put both breasts in the skillet, bone down, and placed it on a large rock that was basically in the fire. I used a second skillet to cover the chicken and create a pseudo dutch oven to keep heat in and sparks out.. It was actually brilliant I must say. Threw in some lemon juice and let it cook for about 30 mins, flipping them periodically. They turned out insanely good. Juicy, smokey, lemony, buttery. Jer was impressed.. But he generally loves everything in life.. So interpret that as you want.

Next up.. That top sirloin. Really amazing piece of meat from Pete’s fine grocery. Kept it simple. Got the cast iron plank ripping hot, seasoned the meat with sea salt and let the pan do the work. Around 2 mins per side (given how cold it was outside I should have left it longer), bit of butter to add deeper colour to the meat, then deglazed the cast iron with red wine which I used as a sauce on the steak and veggies. Plated the steak in a small cast iron with charred brussel sprouts, butternut squash, tomatoes, red wine demi, and chimichurri I made at home. Not a bad for cooking on the beach!

Meal done, photos taken, we chilled for a bit by the fire and were joined by a lady who was walking her dog who refused to leave the beach. Jer and I coaxed the pup over with our leftover chicken and successfully got her back on the leash so they could go home. Hero is a strong word.. But sometimes it’s the only way to describe certain actions…

After about 2 and a half hours out in the cold we were pretty damn cold but feeling happy about a successful cook! First of many campfire sessions coming.

If you have read this far, thanks! Please feel free to leave any comments on other locations that would be perfect for the next Session of Andy’s Campfire Cookout!