A rewarding way to spend your evenings at camp is to cook your own meal in a big pot over the fire. When inPennsylvania, try out a traditional recipe of Schnitz un Knepp, or “Slices and Buttons” made with ham and dried apples with dumplings. You can cook the whole thing on top of your campfire in a handy Dutch oven made from cast iron.
What’s a Dutch oven?
Traditionally made from cast iron, Dutch ovens are ideal cookware for the campsite because they retain heat for a very long time and are practically indestructible. Essentially a deep pot with a lid and often a handle for lifting, Dutch ovens can be used directly on coals or on a grill surface above a heat source. You can even use a Dutch oven at home, where it makes a great piece of cookware for everyday stews and chili, or practically anything (including baking bread). A common Dutch oven manufacturer is Lodge which has been in the business for over 100 years. You can find vintage cast iron cookware that’s still perfect for use (some might say it gets better as it ages and develops a beautiful, and very functional, patina). Grab yours when you head out on your camping adventure.
Why eat “Slices and Buttons”?
This easy and delicious regional delicacy of Pennsylvania Dutch country is traditionally made with dried apples and most often ham, that’s slow cooked in a large pot. Near the end of cooking, add flour-based dumplings into the broth and at the end you’ll have yourself a hearty treat. The beauty of this dish is its ease to cook over a campfire or other outdoor heat source. Try this recipe for an easy attempt with a medium smoked “picnic ham” (you won’t want one with a honey glaze or extra flavoring) or try a version with a longer cook time. (Tip: Check your ingredients to see if your ham needs to be cooked or merely heated up. You’ll want the meat tender as well as cooked through, which might mean 2+ hours cooking time.)
Cook all afternoon
Some recipes encourage soaking the dried apple slices for several hours before cooking, so make sure to read your chosen recipe thoroughly and allow for enough prep time before dinner. (Tip: Snack on any unused dried apples when you take a hike [link to trail snacks post])
Finding Schnitz un Knepp
Many restaurants, especially in serve Schnitz un Knepp, but might only offer the dish on weekends. Check local restaurant menus before planning your trip, or talk to one of our agents about great places to sample traditional Pennsylvania Dutch delicacies on the road.
(Photo credit: Patrick Spinney/Flickr)