A hot dish on the trail can warm the soul or, if you are not careful, burn the tongue. Most people assume you need a Dutch oven or some other extravagant contraption to make an oven-cooked meal while camping. That is certainly not the case. Placing a lid on a frying pan and covering it with hot coals works great, heating the dish from the top while keeping the heat in.
However, that degree of heat is not always necessary. You can also use a lid made of aluminum foil and a gas torch burner. Many restaurants in Japan use these handheld gas burners to finish dishes but, if you are on the trail, you can achieve the same effect by pulling out a log from the fire and placing it above the frying pan or foil lid. This gives the process an “outdoor” feel indeed.
This issue we feature a great meat sauce gratin first introduced to me by the matron of a lodge in Sweden. Oven-baked potato dishes are common in northern Europe, and the meat sauce is a variation on the traditional Swedish dish with potatoes and anchovies called “Jansen’s Frestelse” (Jansen’s temptation).
The dish’s name comes from the story of a man named Jansen who broke his commitment to vegetarianism for this delicious treat which is mouth-watering good and easy to make. I use powdered mashed potatoes, but you can boil and mash potatoes yourself or just finely cut a boiled potato. This trail treat will no doubt be a hit, but don’t be tempted to eat too fast or you may need a cold beer to soothe a scorched tongue.
Bring milk to a boil and add the potato flakes, salt and pepper. If you do not have a cooler for the milk, just use powdered milk in boiling water. Processed cheese will normally stay good for two or three days.
Spread the mashed potatoes on a well-oiled frying pan and cover evenly with meat sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and cover the pan with the aluminum foil. Cook with low heat until the cheese is melted.