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Campfire Kohlrabi

Michigan is all about the seasons, and two of my favorite happening right now are 1) kohlrabi season and 2) camping (and campfire!) season. You too? Grab your grilling tongs and use this simple recipe for an easy campfire meal to take in both fresh air and fresh produce. 

Ingredients: 

Kohlrabi: 

  • 4-5 small-to-medium kohlrabi bulbs
  • 1 lemon
  • 4-5 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 4-5 ounces butter
  • Olive oil 

I also used a whole chicken to cook in time with my kohlrabi. For this, I used: 

  • 1 whole chicken
  • Butcher’s twine
  • Wire 
  • At least two sticks of butter 
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • Collection of fresh herbs, I used lemon thyme and basil from my garden but rosemary, dill or chives would have worked just as well

Pro tip: campfire cooking is made so much easier by prepping for your adventure before you leave the comfort of your at-home kitchen. Here’s what to prep and pack before you go (for just the kohlrabi, just follow the directions in italics

  1. Quarter and peel your kohlrabi, and put the bulb back together before wrapping in heavy duty aluminum foil with the shiny side facing inward.
  2. Cut up a lemon into thin slices and add to a bag, reserving 4-6 slices for your chicken. 
  3. Cut up ⅔ of your butter into tablespoon slices. Save 4 tablespoons for your chicken.
  4. Next, prepare your chicken. Place your hands between the skin and the breast meat of the bird, and loosen until you can easily place a lemon slice, a clove of garlic and 2 tablespoons of butter in that space. Place any additional reserved lemon in the cavity with half of your fresh herbs and half a stick of butter. Truss the bird tightly using butcher’s twine, and then wrap the bird in wire in three directions (this will allow the bird to hang above your fire.) 
  5. Place all ingredients in a cooler with ice, making sure to pack the bird below any produce. 
  6. Also pack a small cast iron pot, a waist-high shepherd’s hook, an S hook, brush for basting, thermometer, chef’s knife, carving board, two bushels of campfire wood, and a book to read (this process can take up to three hours.) 

When you get to your fire pit, the first thing you want to do is build a large fire, or as I like to call it, an “ember factory.” Let your fire burn away until you have nice white embers.This is the time to cook! While this can take a while, it’s a great time to have a pre-dinner marshmallow, or set up your shepherd’s hook for the chicken, so that it will hang directly over the hot embers. You don’t want your fire to completely burn out, so add a log every once in a while to one side to burn. 

Once your fire is cooking-ready, open up your kohlrabi foil packets and add lemon slices between the quarters, and add a garlic clove and 2 tsp olive oil to the packet, and re-seal the packets so they are completely closed to the outside environment. Add these to the hot coals and cover them. Let them cook, occasionally adding new hot coals, turning, and occasionally checking for doneness by grabbing the packet with tongs and poking with a fork. 

For the chicken, hang the bird from the shepherd’s hook using your S-hook and wire, turning to hang on a different part of the wire occasionally to ensure an evenly cooked dinner. Add your butter and the rest of your herbs to a small cast iron pot, and set the pot in a less hot area of your cooking fire. Occasionally, baste your bird with the butter using a brush. Start checking for doneness (165 degrees Fahrenheit) using a thermometer in at least two different places to ensure the bird is entirely cooked through after about an hour and a half.

You can serve your campfire meal in many ways! If you’re truly roughing it, carve your chicken into slices and add directly to the kohlrabi packets. You can also carve your bird into pieces and add to a platter with the roasted kohlrabi. I added fire-charred kohlrabi greens to mine. Enjoy! 

Claire Butler is the Communications and Outreach Intern for Taste the Local Difference. She is a current culinary student at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. Contact her at claire@localdifference.org

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