Camp Pizza – Three Ways

One of the changes I made in 2020 has been a transition to a more vegetarian/pescatarian lifestyle. I still enjoy my share of favorite meaty dishes, but I have made a more conscious effort to make the majority of my meals plant-based for my health, environmental impact, and a general love of all things with faces. This has been a pretty easy change at home, but more difficult when camping. Something about a fire in outdoors makes chicken, sausage, and steaks even more appealing. I’m still working to find favorite recipes, and one of my goals for this summer was to perfect the camping pizza. In scouring recipes, I found three techniques to try. At the end of the summer, I think I am on my way to perfecting camp pizza.

Cast iron skillet

Our first attempt was based off the technique I found in a couple cookbooks. This recipe basically calls for using a well-oiled skillet over a medium-heat camp stove. The day we tried this was very rainy and we struggled with our homemade dough. However, the results were a very chewy, almost soggy crust. We were not super impressed. If you like a pan-pizza style pizza, this technique could work with more oil and a different crust recipe.

Charcoal grill

Attempt number two was meant to be quick and easy. It was 95° out and I wanted simple. As good as the homemade dough was, I wanted to try something easier so I found a thin crust style refrigerated dough at Kroger. I built a charcoal fire in my portable grill. I love using my grill, and I love a good high temperature cooked pizza such as a brick oven. I am not above a few char marks on my pizza, but the grill burned the crust before the cheese melted. At least on my mini-grill, the temperature was too hard to control.

Open fire

Our final attempt of the year was over the open fire on the portable grate I use. In a stroke of inspiration, we ended up placing peppers and onions on the grate to fire roast them. We really like the way this turned out. This will definitely be my go-to technique. It produced a great crust and the wood smoke added nice flavor. I’ll still do some tinkering, but this is definitely the base of my pizza recipe.

The Recipe

8 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
14 oz. water
3 T. oregano leaves
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes. I like to freeze small containers. I don’t like a saucy pizza and use about a quarter cup per pizza.

Roasted vegetables – either pre-roasted or roasted over the fire
Fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil
(And of course, anything else)

Build a fire and allow it to burn down to hot coals, about one hour. Stoke coals under the grate to maintain a fairly consistent cooking temperature. You should only be able to hold your hand over the grate for a couple seconds.

Prepare all of your ingredients. Thoroughly dust a rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. When the fire is ready, cut the pizza dough in half and unroll it. The smaller size makes the pizza easier to move around the grate. Do not allow the dough to sit unrolled on the sheet for long. It seems to relax and becomes more difficult to slide off the sheet.

Add sauce and toppings. Quickly slide the pizza from the cookie sheet onto the grate. After about a minute use a long-handled spatula (larger is better) to loosen the crust from the grate and move the pizza around a bit. Cook until crust is done and cheese is melted.

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