Only one entrée is worthy of the first night out on a camping trip, and my family has come to expect it: grilled chicken fajitas, with all the trimmings. Throw plenty of flattened boneless breasts or tenderloins, depending on thaw time, into a Ziploc bag with olive oil and lime juice, with a crushed clove of garlic, plus a pinch of sea salt and pepper and freeze the Ziploc as flat as you can. Double bag the whole shebang and pack it when you leave. As the chicken thaws in your backpack or cooler, the acid in the lime juice will partially “cook” the meat, saving you from salmonella and allowing you to transport raw poultry for a few hours. (If you die from food poisoning as a result of this recipe, please do not leave my web address lying around on your kitchen counter. I’m not sure why it works—it just does.) Grill the sliced red peppers and onions over the fire or on a griddle while the chicken cooks. Throw the tortillas on for a minute, while you slice some jack cheese. Add black beans, sour cream, your favorite salsa. Add cerveza, if you have packed it.
If you are seriously backpacking, there are ways to reduce the weight and bulk of some of the trimmings, but then, it’s your first night out—celebrate this one luxury with gladness before you begin the mixes and rations. There will be no leftovers, trust me.
Pat Coleman taught me this trick when we worked together as RDs, and I see his smiling, ornery face every time I make this meal. (While dying of food poisoning, perhaps you could invoke his name, not mine.) I would love to sample this year’s vintage of his homegrown salsa, too. Happy grilling, Pat.