"People think you can't bake over a campfire," says Melissa Mullins. "You have to be a little creative." She must be right: Yesterday Mullins bested four other finalists from around the U.S. competing in New York City 's Riverside Park to be named America 's Best Campfire Chef in the third annual Campfire Classic cooking competition (sponsored by Redwood Creek Winery). Mullins, from New York , New York , claimed the $10,000 top prize and a donation of $5,000 to Appalachian National Scenic Trail to be made on her behalf. Her Blackberry Hand Pies with Jar-Whipped Lavender Cream trounced savory competitors, including Celebrate Life Zip Packs (made with walleye fish), Campfire Pizza, Elk Tenderloin Medallions, and Swordfish a Roux Turtle Packs (which won the people's choice award, voted for on Redwood Creek's Web site).
Mullins's empanada-like pies are baked over the campfire in mini-foil "ovens" that allow the air to circulate, helping the crust get crispy. She says shortening works better than butter for the great outdoors since it doesn't spoil and also aids in crisping the crust. Mullins first conceived the dish on a camping trip to Oregon but she says the pies can be cooked at home over a grill or even a gas stove (urban cooks might be even more resourceful than boy scouts).
Read about and get the recipe from last year's winner of the Campfire Classic recipe contest.
What's the most interesting thing you've ever cooked over a campfire?
Megan O. Steintrager is a senior editor at Epicurious.com. She has worked as a writer and editor at Epicurious since the late '90s. Steintrager holds a master's in journalism from New York University with a concentration in Cultural Reporting and Criticism, and has taken numerous cooking classes at New York 's Institute for Culinary Education and the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. She has worked as a writer and editor for ConsumerReports.org, Restaurant Business magazine, and Spin.com, and has been published in Self, Brides, and Time Out New York, among other print and online publications.
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