Dirty Gourmet is three women—Aimee Trudeau, Emily Nielson, and Mai-Yan Kwan—who came together after a bike tour across Canada. They put together a big variety of camp meals, many of which can be found in their cookbook of the same name, with lots of different cultural and taste influences. This recipe, from Emily, for hot, savory mushroom french dips is easily prepared over a campfire with a cast iron skillet.
At REI, where I work, we wear name tags with our favorite outdoor place listed on them. Mine says “Joshua Tree National Park.” For the past ten years, I have spent the majority of my days off in the park camping, climbing, hiking, and meditating. There is a quiet there that I haven’t experienced in many other places. Not even the trickle of a running stream, like when I’m backpacking in the mountains. I can usually find a place to be almost completely alone, and do exactly what we want to do, whether it is active or passive.
Recently I ended up backcountry camping there, and it was one of the most relaxing nights I’ve had in the park. Sunset fading to a full moon, quiet, and with our own personal field of untrampled wildflowers. We cooked these hearty mushroom french dip sandwiches, adapted from this recipe, on the grill at a day use area before heading out so I didn’t have to carry much
1 pint baby bella or button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 sturdy rolls
2-4 slices swiss cheese
Condiments such as mustard, horseradish sauce, or mayo
For the jus
1 cup vegetable broth (or equivalent with bouillon)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons (vegan optional) Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a jar, measure out all the jus ingredients. Pack immediately so you don’t forget it. If you’re using bouillon plus water, these can still be put into the jar together with the other ingredients.
• Build a campfire or start your coals for the grill, and get some glowing embers.
• Place your cast iron skillet on the grate over medium-high heat, and add the oil.
• Once the oil is hot, add your sliced onions, and grill until softened and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
• Add mushrooms and continue to grill until softened and starting to brown as well, another 5 minutes.
• Add roasted pepper slices and chopped garlic, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
• Pour the jar of jus over the vegetables, and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
• Meanwhile, slice rolls in half, and grill directly on the grate until the inside is toasted. Place a slice of cheese on each while hot to start it melting. Slather other side with desired condiments.
• Remove the skillet of vegetables from the grate, and pour the liquid into a small bowl for dipping. *If you forgot a bowl, you can always pour it back into the original jar.
• Scoop a good helping of the mushroom mixture onto the rolls.
• Dip each bite into the jus.
Campfire or grill
Cast iron skillet