Mark Frauenfelder at 10:15 am Tue, May 7, 2013
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Tom Fassbender went camping with his daughter and cooked bacon and eggs in a paper bag set over campfire coals. He says it was a "mixed success" but the results look tasty!
An Experiment in Campfire Cooking
I’m pretty sure “mixed success” is not what I’m looking for when cooking bacon and eggs…
Ha! No. This was an experiment. Next time, it will be different. I promise …
I’ve tried once or twice to warm things up in the oven in take-out paper boxes, and it’s never gone well. The boxes always scorch, especially if there’s grease in the bottom, and then stink up the food.
“mixed success” is not what I’m looking for when cooking bacon and eggs
I’m sure that parts of it were excellent.
Hey, thanks for expanding my vocabulary today!
Interesting concept but he left me with so many questions. How do you free your breakfast from the bag? Rip, pour, drop? What is the dark part on the bottom of the bacon-eggs mix? Charring? Burned bottom? Does the bacon get crispy? (Because that is pretty much a requirement for my bacon.)
I made it to the end of his bag breakfast entry and took all of my questions to his next instructional post about shaving like a man… and I was disappointed in finding no answers to my many questions or even pictures of any men shaving.
To free the breakfast, we just put the bag on the plate and tore the paper away.
The dark part on the bottom was the crispy bacon on the bottom layer (along with a little bit of the bag, which was browned but not burned). We probably let this bag go a bit long, but the bacon was pretty crispy. It was less crispy on the sides, so it’s suitable for satisfying the variance in bacon preference found in groups.
(And, as for shaving, I figured no one really wanted to see me shave. But I’ll see what I can do.)
Easy to serve with, what sounds like, a decent and palatable crisp on the bacon and fewer dishes to wash (or scrape moderately clean) at the campsite? I’m in! Thanks for the reply!
(I guess it’s a personal quirk — I’ve always enjoyed watching men shave… it’s probably something I picked up as a toddler, when my dad had to get us ready and out the door after my mom had already left for the day.)
We like to assemble breakfast burritos before we leave on the trip- cook the eggs, veggies, and bacon/sausage, wrap it a tortilla with cheese and wrap individually in foil. Once cooled, put them in a ziplock and toss them in the cooler. Reheat in foil over hot coals or tiny “kindling” fire, the tortilla will get crispy on the ends, but easy to burn so keep an eye on them. Serve with sour cream and fresh salsa. “Instant” breakfast, very little trash, no prep time or cleanup (at the campsite).
Not nearly as creative or exciting as cooking in a paper bag, but thought I might throw this out there any way.
Before watching the video I wondered why we never learned to do this when I was a Boy Scout. Then I watched it and learned why.
Something I did learn as a Boy Scout: if you leave a hobo dinner (meat and vegetables wrapped in foil and placed in the fire) unattended you can burn down an entire field.
Isn’t that more the issue of leaving a fire unattended, not really the food?
Yes, it really had absolutely nothing to do with the food, although in that particular case I left the fire unattended because it seemed like my dinner was taking forever to cook.
I guess the real lesson was, when cooking a hobo dinner, read your book next to the fire instead of inside the tent.
Works better with parchment paper, and much better with foil (as noted above with foil its sometimes called a hobo dinner). Your’re basically steaming whatever is in the bag. Which is probably good for eggs, but is pretty awful for bacon, you’re not going to get much crisping or browning out of the process.
We used to do something similar when camping: Pack some lemons, herbs and aromatics into the cavity of a gutted fish, the wrap it tightly in a well soaked newspaper. Then cover the package in coals at the edge of the fire. When the paper is dry through the center the fish is cooked. The fish’s skin will adhere to the paper and peel off when you unwrap. Pretty tasty but also really finicky.
I would assume that the steaming-bacon issue is fairly-well fixed by not doing it in parchment paper or tinfoil.
It sounds like the airy paper bags allowed for some pretty crispy bacon.
If the small bit of extra space in the bag was a factor you could just leave extra space in your foil or parchment paper. When you seal something up like this you trap all the moisture released by (or deliberately added as) the ingredients, steaming the contents. The presence of moisture makes its difficult to brown and crisp things which is bad for bacon. But it limits the temperature in much of the enclosure to the boiling point of water. That’s good for delicate things like eggs. Based on the description posted in the comments above Mr. Fassbender seems to have gotten the bacon crispy in places (doesn’t look like too many given the pictures). That can happen (and apparently did) when fat, say from bacon, pools deeply enough at the bottom of the bag to displace the other liquid, and then manages to get hotter than boiling water (need higher temps for browning and driving off moisture). But there’s two problems with that. The hot spots that crisp the bacon are going to over cook the eggs. And, as Mr. Fassbinder found out when one of his bags went up, pooled fat is a fire hazard.
Parchment and foil work better because they’re to varying degrees more heat, water, flame, and pooling fat proof than plain brown paper. Particularly over high direct heat like a campfire. If your container is difficult to burn and unlikely to dribble hot fat its also unlikely to become engulfed in flame. It’ll also magnify that pooling fat crisping things effect (since the fat can’t simply seep through). And with foil being a better conductor of heat than paper it’d give you the best bet for a nice even hot zone at the bottom of the package. Maximizing any potential for browning and crisping.
But as easy and fun as this may be I don’t like the idea of adding raw bacon directly to the package. The point of cooking like this is to easily but properly cook delicate ingredients like fish or eggs with little mess. You’re better off frying meats like bacon or sausage before hand and adding them to the package with raw eggs and any other ingredients for steam in a bag omelets.
God bless every hipster who discards the wisdom of the ancients and tries to start over from scratch. God bless them, because that’s the only way they will stay out of danger.
We did this when I was a girl scout back in the early 80s! I seem to recall that it worked just fine.
The bags are composed of random recycled materials which include bits of plastics, assorted toxic inks and a host of other noxious items. This might have been a decent experiment back in the days of bags made from virgin wood pulp, but, those days are long gone. Also, you have no idea who or what may have touched the bags once they were made, since they aren’t stored in sanitary facilities.
not use brown paper bags from grocery or other stores for cooking.
They are not sanitary, may cause a fire, and can emit toxic fumes.
Intense heat may cause a bag to ignite, causing a fire in the oven…
. The ink, glue, and recycled materials in paper bags can emit toxic
fumes when they are exposed to heat. Instead, use purchased oven cooking
“These bags may not necessarily be sanitary, particularly
since they may be stored under a variety of conditions.”
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