If you’re not familiar with Canyons and Chefs and what we do, finding the answer to this might have you scratching your head. Our exploration and glamping trips combine the beauty of the natural outdoor scenery with the comfort of good home cooking on the road, out under the open sky.
If you’ve never combined these two things, you should try it and see how it works. It’s a unique kind of experience that has many of our guests coming back as often as they are able.
The Joy of Outdoor Cooking
Outdoor cooking is a lot of fun, and the food often tastes better when you’re sitting outside.
For example, take the humble onion. When you’re chopping it in your kitchen, it’s kind of unappealing, until you get it onto the heat. In the outdoors, you get less of that onion-y smell in your nose, and by heating it the right way over an open flame, you get a nicely caramelized result, with all the sweetness and flavor that you crave.
Gem Hunting And More
After you fill your belly, you can explore some of the ancient infrastructure of our natural environments around Death Valley’s beautiful canyons and desert plateaus. These are just part of what you experience as you run around in this Utah area. You can also go hunting for gems!
Although it’s fun, rock hunting isn’t the only thing you can do outside, not by a long shot.
It’s really fun to hike some of these gorges and experience the majestic views that you get out in the fresh air.
One of the things that we think about when we put these trips together is finding an itinerary that works with our cooking schedule. By taking the extra time to get the details right, we really improve the experience for our guests, and that’s part of what distinguishes us from any other similar tour groups, not that there are many of them around.
The more you learn to understand the natural vistas and ecosystems of the area, the more value you’ll get out of one of these interesting trips around the wilds of Utah. And of course, you’ll do all of this with the assistance of professional chefs who know how to whip up a good spread – just take a look at what we did for Thanksgiving this past fall to get an idea of the kind of cuisine you can expect.
Say you’re out there under the stars or the desert sun, in those beautiful landscapes and vistas that we have all across this country, and you’re looking to enjoy some excellent food on your trip. How do you make this work well?
The idea of culinary camping has become really popular these days. People like the idea of combining food, a comfort activity, with the outdoors, which provides its own therapeutic experience. In fact, many of us would even say that food tastes better outside.
Here are three core skills that we promote as we help newcomers to experience the beauty of outdoor cooking.
Much of the outdoor cooking that gets done is done over a gas flame.
Yes, if you are a seasoned camper, you may want to do things the old-fashioned way and cook over a fire, but especially for more sophisticated menus, or a greater number of diners, a small propane stove or similar piece of gear is the way to go. Small propane stoves can fit in a backpack easily, and portable propane containers can, too.
The essential skill here is to know how to use propane safely – how to fit the stoves together, how to look for escaping gas, and how to fine-tune your heat flame. Like other outdoor cooking skills, this is something you learn by experience and trial and error. But you also learn by reading about the safety aspects and knowing these when you start out! Don’t just wing it with gas – because that can be dangerous. Safety first!
As experienced chefs know, knife skills are essential in any kitchen, but they’re extremely important in outdoor cooking.
One reason is that the ergonomics of camping food prep are different from what you experience in a traditional kitchen. You might not have that butcher block or that counter-level cutting board to work on. So it’s important that you adjust your knife skills accordingly, and don’t wind up cutting yourself and going on a white-knuckle trip to the ER.
Protecting Your Gear
This is a broader kind of skill that, again, you learn as you go. You want to protect your good cast iron or other skillets from charring, and keep all of your portable stuff in good condition, whether that means preventing rust and corrosion or breakage.
Time to step up and and crush it this Thanksgiving. Although this year may not quite remind us of Thanksgiving day’s of yore, it’s still a great opportunity to spend time with those closes to us, watch some football, eat some food, and celebrate the things we (even in 2020) have to be thankful. Also relax knowing that dinner doesn’t have to be some crazy nightmare this year. Follow Chef Billy Woods’ simple step-by step recipes to create the ultimate and impressive thanksgiving feast, with everything from the perfectly moist turkey to a luscious pumpkin cheesecake. You can pick one or two, or go for it and do the damn thing! As always, it makes things easier and more enjoyable to have a friend to cook with, some good music, and a great bottle of wine. Step into Chef’s Kitchen! All recipes serve 8 with great leftovers (the best part of Thanksgiving)
Caramelized Apple and Brie Potstickers — Why not bring a little non-traditional into your tradition? Classic American Thanksgiving flavors with a little eastern flair….
4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 Round of Classic Brie Cheese, rind removed and roughly chopped
1/2 C. Chopped Walnuts
1 Package circle-shaped Wonton Wrappers
Small amount of neutral-flavored oil
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over high heat. Add in the apples, sautéing over high heat until just beginning to brown. Add the sugar, toss to coat, and turn down to medium heat. Continue to cook the apples until they are deeply brown, about one hour. Remove from heat, combine in bowl with the brie, and set aside to slowly cool. When cool, add in walnuts and stir until well combined. Take a spoonful of the mixture and place in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Fold the top down and pinch shut, making a half-moon shape. Press down on your work surface, making a flat bottom to the potsticker. Repeat this process until the mixture is gone. Heat small amount of oil in a large saute pan, and place the potstickers flat bottom-side down, cooking over medium heat. Once the bottom is browned, remove the pan from heat and add a small amount of water to create a steambath. Once steamed, serve immediately.
What’s for Dinner?:
Anise, Honey, Apple Cider, and Ginger Brined Turkey
— Worried about your turkey being dry? Brine to the rescue. This delicious brine ensures every bite of your turkey (even the hard-to-deal-with breast), is most and memorable. Another secret? Chef’s Honey and Herb Butter deeply massage into the turkey!
1 18lb, free-range young turkey
For the Brine:
3 gallons water
1/2 gallon apple cider
1c. brown sugar
1c. kosher salt
2 tbsp each of star anise, fresh ginger, black peppercorns
2 large bay leaves
Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to boil and let cool. When FULLY cooled, add turkey. Store in a 5-gallon bucket with lid firmly attached. Brine for no less than 24, but no more than 48 hours. When ready to roast, remove from brine, pat dry, and remove any spice fragments that may be stuck on.
For the Butter:
1 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup herb mixture of fresh, chopped parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage
Whip vigorously until combined. Just before roasting the turkey, insert fingers under flap of skin on breast and massage deeply into breast flesh.
Cooking the turkey
Preheat oven to 375
You will definitely want to truss you turkey for most even roasting results. Watch this short tutorial video to familiarize yourself with the process:
Chop 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 4tbsp unsalted butter and toss into a large roasting pan with a rack. Place the trussed turkey on the rack. For every pound of stuffed turkey cook 18 minutes, or until internal temperature is 165 according to your kitchen thermometer.
Chef’s Clutch Pan Drippings Gravy
— Trust us, this is worth the wait. The key is to make it a priority at the start of the day instead of a mad scramble at the end. Frankly, you’ll want this as a condiment for everything!
1 package of liver and giblets from your turkey
1 each onion, large carrot (peeled and chopped), and celery stalk
2c. good-quality chicken stock
1c. good quality sauvignon blanc or other crisp, dry, white wine
Drippings from turkey roasting pan
4 tbsp corn starch, 1tbsp water, combined (this is a slurry)
In a large sauce pot, place a small amount of butter in pan heated on high. Melt the butter, and add in the giblets making sure that a single layer is achieved (do not overload the pot). Brown each side, remove from pan, and deglaze with stock (pour in a small amount and stir until the bits from the bottom of the pan “unstick”). Continue this process until all giblets and such are browned and set aside. When this process is finished, add in the chopped mirepoix vegetables with a small amount of butter and season lightly with salt. Sauté the vegetables on high until beginning to brown, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until vegetables become deeply brown. Add back in the browned giblets, stir, and add stock and wine. Bring to slow simmer, and continue to simmer until turkey is done roasting and liquid is reduced by half. Add drippings from roasting pan (ALL of them, everything), and continue to simmer until ready to serve. When ready, strain and thicken with corn starch slurry (add slurry, bring to boil). When desired consistency is reached, serve.
Chef’s Disappearing Stuffing
— Seasonal fruits and crunchy nuts are the star of this stock and pan dripping-soaked stuffing
4c. Bread scraps or cubes (French, sourdough, rye, cornbread or some combination are all acceptable)
2 pears, chopped
2 apples, chopped
1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, chopped
1c pecans, chopped
2 c. Good-quality chicken stock
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and thoroughly combine. While wearing gloves, stuff into body cavity of turkey. Don’t be shy, get in there!
Classic Homestyle Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes — Easy and delicious, a great combination!
5lb bag of Red Potatoes
1/2c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
Kosher salt to taste
Put all the potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Salt water liberally. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium simmer, and cook potatoes until a knife slides into them with little to no resistance.
Sweet Potato au Gratin with Chipotle and Gruyere
— Your guests will beg for more of this, and it’s waaaaaaaay better than that marshmallow freak show you’re subjected to every year!
3lb bag of Sweet Potatoes, peeled
1+1/2 c heavy cream
8oz smoked gruyere, shredded
5tsp Dijon mustard
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. With a mandoline (slicer) slice all of the potatoes into very thin slices, as thin as you can. In a 9×9 baking dish covered with parchment paper (pro-tip: using cooking spray makes it easier to mold the paper into the baking dish), layer the potatoes in this order: potatoes covering the bottom , pinch of salt, small handfuls of cheese, mustard 1tsp at time, cream to cover, press down and repeat until all potatoes are used. Dispense the chipotles into a small bowl. Remove 1 chili and mince, sprinkle on top of the potatoes along with 1-2 spoonfuls of adobo sauce. Finish the top with cheese. Cover the dish with foil, place on baking dish and put in oven. Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for additional 30 minutes. Cool completely, remove from dish and cut into squares.
— I always hear people tell me that they *hate* beets and brussels sprouts. That’s because that canned nonsense is hot garbage. Prepare to eat some real, delicious food
2lb Brussels sprouts, root cut off, halved
2 purple beets, stems chopped off
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, halved
1 yellow onion, julienned
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2lb pancetta, chopped
1c walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350. Place beets in baking dish, squeeze lemon and add to beets. Salt liberally, add 2tbsp of the olive oil and add enough water to cover the bottom of the dish half a finger in height. Cover with foil and bake 1.5 hours. Remove from oven and cool. Skins will peel off easily. Dice the beets into 1/2in x 1/2in cubes
Begin the Brussels as the beets are being done. Place halved sprouts in a large mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp of olive oil, and salt liberally. Place “Face down” on sheet pan, put in oven, and roast until faces are golden brown.
Heat a small saucepan and add pancetta. Cook until meat is golden brown and fat has separated from the meat. Strain the meat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until golden brown, add back the pancetta and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook slowly, stirring often until onions are deeply brown and sweet.
To finish, combine everything (brussels, beets, onion/garlic/pancetta) and heat. Serve immediately
Velvet Pumpkin Cheesecake w/ Gingersnap crumble
— take a break from the standard pie and slide into this luscious, unforgettable cheesecake made with fresh pumpkin, which makes all the difference.
1 pie pumpkin, stemmed, halved, and seeded
1 tsp canola oil
2 two kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350. Coat pumpkin with oil, salt, and roast until soft, about 45 mins. Remove flesh from skin and puree.
For the custard
2 8oz packages of good-quality cream cheese, room temperature
3/4c white sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1+1/2c sour cream, at room temperature
All of roasted pumpkin purée
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
10 gingersnap cookies, crushed
Preheat oven to 350. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip cream cheese with sugar and salt until creamy and well-whipped. Add eggs and yolks one at a time until combined, scraping down the bowl each time. Add the remaining ingredients, running your mixer on high until well combined. Scrape down the bowl for good measure. Grease a springform pan and pour batter into it. Wrap the outside of the springform with foil, covering the sides. Place pan in a large container, and fill container about halfway up the side of the springform pan with warm (not hot) water. Bake for 1-1.5 hours, or until custard jiggles very slightly when shaken. Cool completely. Remove custard from pan, sprinkle with gingersnap dust, and serve.
Now you’ve got all the necessary recipes, time to make a plan and get it done. Here is a basic outline of how your week should progress. Try to do a few small tasks each day do you don’t get overwhelmed. For any overwhelmed times, there’s wine for that! Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Day Plan:
Stuff and roast Turkey
Even though Thanksgiving might feel a bit different this year, it actually presents a great opportunity. Many years, we have massive gatherings that might overwhelm a home cook saddled with gigantic responsibility, chaos, and stress. This year, our smaller gatherings might lend us a chance to try something we haven’t before without worrying about the scope of the crowd. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Thanksgiving is on it’s way. It’s a chance to spend time with family, eat good food, and make new memories. However, for a lot of families, Thanksgiving will look different this year due to COVID-19. So, why not fully embrace the differences this year, and celebrate Thanksgiving on a campground this year. We have a few tips for you to make sure your camping trip is a memorable one:
Keep an eye on the weather.
Before you plan a camping trip on Thanksgiving, make sure you prepare for the weather. The last thing you want to be hit with is a surprise rainstorm. So, pack a tarp or an all-weather canopy to protect you and your loved ones. In addition, you can also get gazebo curtains that can be additional protection from any wind or rain.
Plan and cook dishes ahead of time.
You will want to prepare one of the most important features of Thanksgiving – the food. Whether you want turkey with all the fixings, or you want to cook something different, make sure you plan in advance. You’ll also want to cook in advance too before you even get to the campsite. Doing any major roasting and baking at home and re-heat food at the campsite. If you want to do something different, contact us at Canyons and Chefs and ask us about our private chef services.
Be as simple as you possibly can.
Cooking food for your camping trip will take longer and take more planning than you initially expect. So, plan for simple dishes, such as easy side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. Also, make this a family affair, right down the planning and preparation. Whether it’s a small Thanksgiving affair or with extensive friends and family, ask people to help you, whether it’s bringing side dishes or contributing to larger equipment you’ll need for the trip.
Don’t forget the décor.
Just because you are celebrating Thanksgiving differently, it doesn’t make it any less of a special day. Add festivity to your celebration, both in big and small ways. Get a decorative table cloth that has a fall harvest appearance. Make sure you bring extra lighting since it gets dark earlier during this time of year. Bring candles, flameless candles, string lights, or lanterns, which can all evoke a commemorative mood while adding much-needed light.
If you are considering going camping for this holiday, most importantly, make sure you plan in advance. Thanksgiving is special for many of us, and having your celebration on a camping trip will make it a day to remember. Happy Thanksgiving!
Think about trekking to some remote canyon or mountain area, and enjoying a professional culinary experience amid the rocks.
That’s the type of opportunity that we offer at Canyons and Chefs. As an outdoor company, we guide our guests on awe-inspiring tours of some of the area’s best natural landscapes. As a company founded by chefs, we offer these adventurers high cuisine in the outdoors, with a backcountry kitchen well-equipped for turning high-quality food far from the electrical grid or the shelter of a conventional kitchen.
An Excellent Primal Experience
When you think about it, enjoying food in the wilderness is the way that we have lived for millions and millions of years.
In the modern era, you can think about all of those cowboys and cattle movers and other couriers who routinely camped out, cooking over a fire: how did they do it?
The answer shows you how appealing it is for people to outdoors and enjoy well-cooked meals far away from the bells and whistles of human civilization – out in the open, under the sun, moon and stars!
Refining Outdoor Cooking
As we brainstormed how to set up this trail-blazing business, we invested in specific equipment that gives our portable backwoods kitchen the ability to really shine. Whether it’s using a double oven for roasting or searing over a campfire grill, our experience and investment in tools allow us to really bring a new level of flavor to the campfire side.
In a way, it’s exciting to deal with the limitations and challenges of cooking on the open road. When you don’t have a lot of the comfort of city living to fall back on, you rely on your own ingenuity and expertise. Turning out excellent tastes and textures in the wild is a challenge we’re proud to embrace.
Merging Two Great Companies
How did this get started?
When Red Rock Culinary met Blue Marble Adventure GeoTours, a new kind of company was born.
Previously, the chef business was responsible for elevating food for diverse audiences, while Blue Marble’s outdoor tracking service focused on introducing guests to natural wonders. We took these two businesses and threw them together, and the wonderful result is a new kind of company that you rarely find anywhere. Check out the web site for more on how we delight guests, and ask us any questions about logistics or anything else! There’s nothing else like this around, so if you’re coming by here, be sure to look us up!