Easy Dutch Oven River Meals to Start a Fork War

By Dylan Holt

One Pot River Dinners

Easy River Meals

Bringing the kitchen sink while camping isn’t normally a good idea.  However, when you are on a rafting trip with 5 or so rafts able to haul hundreds of pounds of gear, you can bring whatever you want.  This is the simple beauty of rafting trips.  The ability to bring things like chairs, dutch ovens and giant coolers filled with amazing food, ice and drinks into some of the most remote places on the planet.  But with all that carrying capacity, sometimes it’s easy to bring too much.  In my experience it is best to keep things simple, organized and easy when it comes to river meals.  For most, a river trip is a way to escape into the wilderness and enjoy the outdoors.  At the end of a long day in the sunshine, or possibly a cold rainy day, it is nice to have a simple to prepare and cook meal that isn’t overly complicated.  This reduces stress in camp and allows for more time hiking, fishing and generally relaxing.  For easy river meals it doesn’t get much easier than single dutch oven meals.  One pot, add a bunch of ingredients, and cook.  The cleanup is super easy as well, no dishes in the dark by headlamp. Here are 3 simple easy dinner meals for the river that will enhance your river trip and leave your friends and family smiling.

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

picture courtesy of 3guysoutside.com

Let’s start off with the first meal of the day: breakfast. Though, this hearty meal is a comfort any time of day.

Once you get your coals going, brown 2 lb of hot sausage, or mild if it suits you, in a large 12” or 14” Dutch oven. In the meantime, mix together 1 cups of milk and 18 eggs. Toss 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 a teaspoon of onion powder into the egg mixture and whisk it good. Next throw in 1 cup diced peppers as well as 1 cup diced white onion and saute until the onion is clear. When the sausage is brown and crumbled, pour the egg mixture over the sausage, peppers and onions then cover completely with a layer of tater tots. Last add 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese on top of it.  Cover and place 4-5 coals on the bottom and approx. 16-20 around the top lid ensuring proper top down baking for approximately 35 minutes. Remove the lid and feast your eyes on the glory. Then sprinkle a little more cheese over the top and let it melt. I know, your mouth is watering already, but keep it together because we have more recipes for your enjoyment.

Dutch Oven Pineapple Ham

Picture courtesy of Carbontv.com

This one is an old river classic.  Get your coals going and start to prepare a large dutch oven.  Use 3-4 lbs thick cut ham and slice, or you can use pre-sliced to make it easier on yourself.  Layer the slices of ham into the dutch.  Next add a ½ cup of brown sugar and pour 1 20oz can of crushed or ringed pineapple over the sugar letting it melt over the ham layers.  Next add 1/2 can of 7-up into the mix.  Place the dutch onto your coals and cook for 45 min. 

Buckaroo Spuds

picture courtesy of 50campfires.com

This one is an old Idaho river classic.  There are many ways to make dutch oven potatoes.  However, the easiest way I know of is to have your ingredients pre-prepped.  If you can do some of the prep work at home, you can simply add the ingredients and start cooking.  At home pre- slice a packet of bacon into smaller bits.  Dice a couple onions up as well as any peppers that you would like in your spuds.  Grab a bag of shredded cheese of your liking.  I prefer to use smaller ziplocs for all the individual ingredients and add them into a large ziploc to keep the organized and together in the cooler.  Now, being from Idaho I would say always use Idaho potatoes, however sometime this involves peeling and dicing and generally a lot of work.  The easiest way I’ve found is to find the small prepackaged baby dutch yellow or mixed potatoes.  This way there is no prep and you simply add them in with your ingredients and some garlic and butter and your prepackaged bacon, onion, and peppers.  Season to taste and place the dutch oven on the coals.  Bake for about 45 min.  Save the cheese till the very end to melt over the entire dish. 

River Enchiladas

Picture courtesy of Eggheadforum.com

This one is super easy and requires hardly any prep work.  Get a bag of the El Monterey chimichangas from your local grocer and a can of enchilada sauce.  As well as a bag of shredded cheese and a can of olives.  Oil your dutch oven and place the frozen or semi frozen chimichangas into a layer in the bottom.  Add your cans of enchilada sauce and olives over the top.  Cook for 30 min in the dutch oven, adding cheese to melt at the end.  Easy, cheesy, and super tasty.

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