I was introduced to steak on a stick on the beaches of southeast Alaska. It was in the winter, when most folks tend to just hang out and enjoy the slow pace of the Alaskan winters with friends. Snow was falling and had already blanketed the beach, with just a few stray pieces of drift wood exposed. The fire was welcoming as the sounds of our laughter were muffled by the snow-filled air and the lapping of sea water on the shore. My friend’s mom was away from the group preparing something and I noticed her slicing steaks up into bite size squares. Being interested in cooking I approached her and asked what she was preparing. She stated that this was it and I watched as she speared the bite size sirloin onto the end of a whittled down willow limb and handed it to me.
“Now go roast it like a marshmallow,” she said. I looked at the meat a little funny and asked if there was any marinade or sauce. “Nope,” she replied, “that’s all there is to it.” That was the beginning of not just a great way to prepare steak but also a great relationship with an excellent Alaskan cook.
Steak on a stick is as simple as it sounds and is perfect for a campfire get together and allows you to grab a bite when you want it. It is always a hot bite of delicious steak anytime you get the urge while enjoying the great company that always surround the fire. Steak on a stick is great straight out of the pack but some marinade can be added for some more unique flavors to your meat. If your group is large, then you might even offer more than one flavor to the mix. Just keep the meat in containers for everyone to enjoy.
Steak on a stick is a great way to enjoy the season’s wild game. My favorite is fresh backstrap, especially with a hunting buddy after a great hunt in the backwoods camp as we remember the day and enjoy the real reasons for hunting. Steak on a stick is so simple that I am going to include a great side dish in this article for your enjoyment with the roasted protein even though I can sure make it on meat alone.
A great side dish for steak on a stick is a buttery steamed vegetable medley that is just as simple as the steak or backstrap. I won’t list ingredients to this recipe because it can be so varied by taste and preference but here are the simple steps to a simple campfire dish that can also be picked at as you roast your steak on a stick.
First lay out two pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil in a “T” shape. I always double the foil for durability because you might be moving the vegetables around the fire to get the best temperature which will be explained in the cooking part of these steps. Use longer strips of aluminum foil than you think you need so that when you roll the ends together on top of the vegetables there is enough foil to form a nice handle to grip.
Once the foil is laid out, then it is time for the ingredients of choice. I always use onions and potatoes to start but then whatever is available or the preferences of the group determine the rest (and of course when the kids are along I leave out the onions so they’ll eat at least some of the vegetables). You can fit a lot of ingredients in the standard width of aluminum foil but if you want more just build two separate foil steamers. Once the ingredients are in place, sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and add a half stick of butter on top and bring the ends up and together above the vegetables and combine by rolling together. This doesn’t have to be perfect, just make sure that the vegetables are covered and there is at least an inch or two of separation between the foil and the veggies on top. This allows the buttery steam to do its work. Inspect your foil and be sure that the foil is even all around your veggies so that there is a minimum of one inch of solid foil around the bottom and there is no way the liquids can escape.
Now that your vegetables are ready to cook, it is time to prepare an area by the fire to set them so that they slowly steam to perfection. You can cook this on a grill if you like, but when cooking steak on a stick I like to use the campfire for the whole deal. Besides, once the veggies are done they can be opened up and enjoyed at your leisure by keeping the package covered and close to the coals.
If your fire ring has a grate then great you can just set the foil on the grate and move it in or out depending on the intensity of the heat needed to simmer the vegetables. You can hear the butter and the water from the vegetables themselves bubble in the foil. If you hear hissing it is too hot. Just move the foil away from the heat. I usually just set the vegetables next to the fire on a rock and occasionally rotate them so not one side get too much heat. The cooking process is by the steam created inside so direct heat to the bottom is unnecessary.
Enjoy the campfire
Now that your vegetables are complete you can set them aside just close enough to the fire to keep warm and nibble on them straight from the foil or serve a little at a time on a paper plate as you roast your steak on a stick. This is a dinner I have enjoyed many times during many different occasions with friends and family. I am still amazed at how many people have never heard of this great way to prepare steak or wild game much like I had never heard of or even thought about it that day on the beach in southeast Alaska. I remember saying that day that I would never feel sorry for those cowboys that had to cook their meal on an open fire again. I promise you will be delighted at the flavor of the meat when roasted on an open flame and I hope that it becomes one of your favorites, like it is ours, at your campfires in the future.
Image courtesy Ken McBroom