10 Australian Meals Perfect for Camping
Often the chaos of a working week means the meals are what is quick and easy. Camping gives me the time to get away and slow down, so it is no wonder that when meal planning these it also returns to my Australian childhood for inspiration and comfort foods.
This recipe collection is my top 10 recipes for camping that reflect the food that I used to eat home in Australia. It is not surprising this Australian collection of food was easy to assemble because meals were often outdoors to start with which reflects our culture, or easy meals reflective of our short yet frugal history.
Unsurprisingly lamb appears more than once which growing up was the cheap meat eaten often to now the expensive special occasion meat in America. There is also a lot of recipes provided by recipe contributors from Australia who are doing a great job cooking up my favorites.
1. Curried Sausage
This may seem a weird place to start but almost all Australian families have a handwritten variation of a ‘family recipe’ for curried sausages, although often also called savory sausages. Interestingly they are almost all the same and after researching this I tracked it back to a ‘Country Women’s Association’ cookbook which for a long time was the foundation recipe book for women across Australia so it makes sense that it became the foundation of family traditions.
Although a fairly simple recipe it gets a bit tricky when it comes to the key flavor ingredient of ‘curry powder’ because it isn’t a typical Indian style curry, it is a unique version put out by Keen’s whose history extends back to the 1800’s in London. Gowing up I, and many others, simply thought there was only one ‘curry powder’ and this was it, my mind was blown in my teens as we started to learn about Indian and Asian curries. The closest international variation is yellow curry powder.
The simple recipe can easily be cooked on a gas camp stove or over a campfire. It can be served as a hearty one-pot meal or typically with vegetable sides including mashed potato.
2. Tuna Mornay
I didn’t even realize that this wasn’t a global meal until I left Australia. Now with kids of my own, I find myself cooking it frequently as a healthy meal packed with protein from tuna and dairy along with a balance of vegetables.
Living in America I find I’m frequently having to call it ‘Mac and Cheese with tuna and vegetables’ so they understand what it is. (This gets close to my obsessive hate for feeding kids a carb and fat-rich mac and cheese with no real nutritional value – but that will be a whole blog of its own).
Easily cooked on a camp gas stove or over the fire it is an ideal one-pot meal that is nutritionally balanced.
3. Nangari Burgers
I think these may be a niche South Australian thing, but even then there is very little information on them (one of the few times Google has really let me down). Nangari itself was part of a Soth Australia settlement called Taldra that was opened because of the railway back in 1913 but ‘closed’ in the 1980’s with the last census in 2016 showing that Taldra had a population of 36.
The Nangari burgers were something that we often used for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) for large event barbecues where the goals were ease and low costs. This is definitely a poor version of a hamburger that includes a batter element (flour and milk) to spread the more expensive meat included within it. I recall it as being runny and pour onto the BBQ almost like a pancake yet the hand-drawn copy of the recipe used and others I managed to find all produce a somewhat thicker batter that is scooped.
If that background hasn’t turned you off, should you cook it the results are actually very good, and if you don’t tell anyone they have never picked up on the unique composition. This recipe also stepped up and uses a bread roll than my memory of slices of bread (more them memory of the counting of slices of bread and calculating how many loaves we needed to buy).
4. Scotch Steak
Who thought that moving to America would mean I would need to learn a completely new butchering system? I miss ordering my counter meal of a rump steak or if feeling rich a scotch steak. So this steak is added partly for the naming and just being able to call it by the name I grew up using.
What is also Australian about this steak recipe created by Justin Gradon, and many others I didn’t use, is the accompaniment of fresh homemade compound butter. American steaks have a tendency to lean more towards dried flavors, particularly rubs. These are great but don’t offer the same depth as the frequent lean towards fresh ingredients in Australia.
5. Steak Diane Sauce
Following the steak theme, all the hotels in my area (and I mean about 3 hours drive in every direction) had the same selection of sauces for their steaks including pepper sauce, mushroom sauce, and Diane sauce. Diane was by far my favorite!
When I started researching to make my own I was pushed towards a fancy French sauce that was flambeed or recipes that included mushrooms. It was soon clear to me that wherever this name came from it certainly wasn’t based on any traditional recipe, and found myself recreating.
Luckily it turned out to be a simple recipe with a tomato foundation, some fresh garlic, and cream. Makes sense for quick and easy over the counter meals in pubs.
6. Dutch Oven Roast Lamb
Roasts were a common Sunday event in my house as we all returned home from our weekend adventures. Lamb often featured as one of these roasts. Now I am returning home on Sundays from my outdoor adventures tired and expected to cook, so definitely no Sunday roasts, but there are lots of Saturday camp roasts.
This recipe by Ben Arnot is a great example of a Lamb Roast cooked in a Dutch oven and includes the vegetables. It is fairly typical of this style of roasting and is a hearty option for any campsite or even the backyard.
7. Pork Belly Bahn Mi
I know, this is a Vietnamese sandwich, but it definitely has an Australian spin with the use of fresh ingredients making what could be quite heavy surprisingly light. Australia being close to the Asian countries does an amazing job at maintaining the integrity of the recipes and traditional flavors.
The real highlight of me is the ability to easily buy pork easily in Australia with the skin on and as such be able to make magnificent crackling whether a roast or as in this recipe by Dean Schuman.
The second thing worth mentioning is I personally find Australian bred superior, at first I fought this was all in my head. but then after researching for another project I discovered some substance to this feeling learning that their wheat is cut down in a different stage of the growth cycle, tends to not be GMO, and contains different protein levels. All this contributes to the different results in flavor and texture.
8. Chorizo Stuffed Squid
When camping by the coast it was always easy to pick out the squid trawlers which use massively powerful bright lights to attach the molluscs during the night which is attached to them to feed. Interestingly as many people think of calamari as just the preparation of rings that are crumbed, they are in fact their own species. Squid, Calimari, and Cuttlefish can all be used interchangeably as they have the same preparation methods, but generally, cuttlefish is the most flavorsome of the three, and calamari the most tender.
Although the go-to is to crumb and deep-fry, in Australia, there is a wide variety of preparations including sautee, stirfry, and even stuffing. This Chorizo stuff squid recipe was created by Booma Bromage and showcases the versatility as it is cooked on the grill.
9. Minted Pulled Lamb Shoulder
Using the whole lamb is a common thing and it is still not unusual to buy half a lamb and is certainly something we did when I was young. Similar to any shoulder it is a difficult pat of the animal to cook often being boiled. Now it can easily be smoked and the meat pulled off.
Traditionally lamb, and particularly roast lamb, was paired with mint. This recipe that is part American style BBQ and traditional Australian uses a mint vinegar sauce as part of the final fovoring which fuses these two culinary traditions into an Australian variation.
10. Camping Meat Pie
This is the biggest deviation from a standard Australian recipe, but could easily be a new camping classic. The pastry of a classic Aussie Meat Pie is substituted for bread and cooked in a jaffle iron. (If you are American, that sentence may not have made sense, the translation is… sloppy joe meat is put between two slices of bread and cooked in a square pie iron to create a tasty hobo pie).
However you explain it, or whatever you call it, the Camping Meat Pie is a tasty new Australian inspired meal to add to your list of camping recipe ideas. Serve with tomato sauce (ketchup).