marshmallow over a fire

A cookout is synonymous with summer but not all of us are well-versed on how to create a restaurant-quality meal over a campfire. We tapped Chef/Partner Jeff Mahin (Stella Barra Pizzeria, Summer House Santa Monica), who not only shares his secrets, but gives us his ideal summer cookout menu.

wood embers burning

His tips:

1. Prep as much as you can ahead of time.
2. Re-heat by wrapping your food in tin foil and burying it in the charcoals.
3. Bring napkins and eat with your hands; this could get messy.

What’s on the menu?

several images of camp cooking

Chef Jeff Mahin’s Summer Cookout Menu

Starters:
Fire-roasted Heirloom tomato skewers with olive oil, fig vincotto and sea salt

Main:
BBQ Ribs with Homemade Rib Rub and Pineapple

Sides:
Fire-baked Potato with all the fixin’s

Charred corn on the cob with espelette, cotija cheese and fresh lime

Dessert:

Boozy hot chocolate topped with a toasted marshmallow

 

Chef Mahin walks us through the menu. Ready, set, get cookin’! 

Starters: Tomato skewers – fire-roasted heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, fig vincotto and sea salt 

tomato skewers
Summer is tomato season and this dish is not only super simple but a tasty way to woo your campfire crew.

 

raw tomatoes in a woven basket

  1. Snag medium to large cherry tomatoes (nothing smaller than a gumball but no larger than a golf ball)
  2. Find a durable stick or tree branch – living branches work better as they have moisture and won’t burn.
  • For the “glam-per”: If you can, bring the stick inside and pull off the branches to make it as straight as possible. Run under cool water and scrub with a sponge and a small amount of mild soap. Rinse off the soap and set aside. Continue this process until you have enough branches for each guest
  • Roughin’ it? For the outdoorsy-type, find a branch and use your 12-inch bowie knife to chop it away from the tree. Widdle down the branch to remove the outer layer and smaller branches – again, you want this to be as straight as possible.
  • To assemble: Skewer the tomatoes one by one on the branch – that’s it, you’re done! Told you it was easy.
  • To cook: Place the tomatoes over the fire until they start to blister – the skin should char just slightly and this should take no longer than one minute.
  • Once the tomatoes are cooked, remove from the flame and generously coat with olive oil and fig vincotto, then dust with sea salt.

tomato skewers and corn on the grill

For the full recipe for the tomato skewers, click here.

Fire Baked Potato with the fixin’s

baked potatoes

  1. Wrap the potato in tin foil and throw into the ashes of fire. Keep it in the coals for about 30 minutes.
  2. The tin foil won’t get too hot but still be careful when pulling out the potato from the fire. We suggest pulling it out with long tongs.
  3. Set up a baked potato bar with your favorite toppings. Chef Mahin recommends sour cream, your favorite cheese, fresh chives and bacon.

Charred corn on the cob with espelette, cotija cheese and fresh lime

corn on a tray on grass

1. Remove husk and cut the corn in half horizontally.
2. Skewer the corn with either metal skewers or thick wooden skewers. A quick tip: Soak the skewers in water overnight which will prevent them from burning.
3. Blister the corn over the fire until it is steaming and plump.
4. Remove from fire and place on a plate.
5. Cover with lime juice, butter, espelette, crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro.

For the full recipe for charred corn on the cob, click here.

BBQ Ribs with Home-made Rib Rub and Pineapple

slab of bbq ribs

  1. The campfire is nature’s way of re-heating your food. Chef Mahin recommends you prep your rack of ribs at home, rub them with your favorite BBQ sauce then wrap them in tin foil.
  2. Put them in a cooler and when you get to your fire pit, scoop some embers on top of the tin foil wrapped ribs. Re-heat for about two hours.

For Chef Mahin’s full rib recipe, click here.

Boozy hot chocolate topped with a toasted marshmallow 

hot chocolate in a camp mug

  1. For a sweet finish, take your favorite hot chocolate mix and heat over the fire until it comes to a slow boil.
  2. While it is warming up, toast a marshmallow over the fire to top your drink. This adds both a nutty and smokey flavor to your cocoa.
  3. Add a shot of Rumchata or Bailey’s to give your hot cocoa an extra kick!

 

Chef Jeff Mahin’s Fire Roasted Heirloom Tomato Skewer

Serves: 1 skewer

INGREDIENTS

  • medium to large cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • fig vincotto
  • sea salt
  • durable stick or branch of a tree or a metal skewer

METHOD

  1. Skewer the tomatoes one by one on either metal skewers or a wooden branch(Chef Jeff’s trick is to soak the skewers in water overnight. This prevents them from burning).
  2. Place the tomatoes over the fire and start to blister – the skin should char a bit and blister – no longer than 1 minute.
  3. Once the tomatoes are cooked remove from the flame and generously coat with olive oil and fig vincotto.
  4. Dust with sea salt.

 

Chef Jeff Mahin’s Grilled Corn on the Cob

Serves: 1 piece of corn

INGREDIENTS

  • corn on the cob
  • piment d’espelette (red chili pepper powder)
  • cotija cheese
  • Lime

METHOD

  1. Cut the corn in half horizontally.
  2. Skewer the corn with either metal skewers or thick wooden skewers (Chef Jeff’s trick is to soak the skewers in water over night. This prevents them from burning.).
  3. Blister the corn over the flame until it is steaming and plump.
  4. Remove from fire and place on a plate.
  5. Cover with lime juice, butter, crumbled cheese, piment d’espelette (red chili pepper powder) and cilantro.

 

Chef Jeff Mahin’s Barbecue Ribs with Homemade Rib Rub and Pineapple

Serves: 1-2 

INGREDIENTS

For the Rib Rub

  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ Kosher Salt
  • ⅛ cup ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Colman’s Mustard
  • ⅓ cup light Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅓ cup paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

For the BBQ Ribs

  • 1 each side baby back ribs
  • 1 cup rib rub (see above)
  • ½ pinapple – cored and diced

METHOD

For the Rib Rub

  1. Mix all together and reserve.

For the BBQ Ribs*

  1. Peel the membrane/sinu off the back of the ribs.
  2. Toss the ribs in the BBQ rib rub.
  3. Slice the pineapple horizontally into disks and set aside.
  4. Stretch a sheet of tin foil twice the size of the ribs – on a flat surface.
  5. Place the ribs into the center of the tin foil, lay the pineapple slices on top.
  6. Wrap the ribs tight in tin foil – rewrap if not covered enough – you do not want the ribs to leak.
  7. Place the ribs in a cooler until needed.
  8. When ready, place the ribs on top of the smoldering coals and then cover, allow to slow cook for 2-2½ hours.
  9. Remove and be very careful – it will be hot.

* Chef says that the ribs will be flavorful and tender from the rub and the pineapple, but if you have a favorite BBQ sauce, bring it along.