After a long day of hiking, fishing and swimming, most campers probably are happy to broil a hot dog or hamburger over a roaring campfire. But why not take advantage of pork's ability to cook quickly and crown your day with a sumptuous pork tenderloin? As a camper, you're probably accustomed to cooking food in aluminum foil so that the fire doesn't drain it of its natural juices. Follow the same practice with pork tenderloin, add a few of your favorite seasonings and savor a memorable meal under the stars.
Note the weight of your pork tenderloin so that you have a general idea of how long to cook it over the campfire. Many tenderloins weigh between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds and take about 20 minutes per pound to cook. The actual cooking time may vary slightly, depending on the intensity of your fire and any wind gusts you may be battling.
Cut a sheet of aluminum foil long enough to wrap the pork tenderloin and seal the edges. Spread a generous amount of olive oil over the full length of the foil.
Place the tenderloin on the foil. Surround it with some vegetables, such as green beans and onions or some sliced apples, if you like, for a well-rounded meal. Turn up the four sides of the foil.
Pour some olive oil on the pork tenderloin. Sprinkle it with some salt and pepper. As a camper with limited space, rely on seasoning packets to enrich the flavor of the pork. Try some dried ranch, tomato and basil or mojita lime seasoning, and sprinkle it over any vegetables, too.
Fold and seal together the edges of the foil packet. Place the packet on a cooking rack that rests over a medium flame on the campfire.
Rotate the pork tenderloin packet with a long-armed spatula every few minutes so that the campfire flames evenly cook the full length of the pork tenderloin.
Set the pork tenderloin on a plate and let it cool for a minute. Carefully open the foil -- the steam will be hot and intense -- and insert a meat thermometer in the middle of the tenderloin. It should register 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the other ingredients, cover loosely and let the pork rest for 5 minutes before enjoying your campfire feast.
- You wouldn't be the first camper to forget to pack a meat thermometer, so to check the doneness of the tenderloin, carefully slice it in the middle section. To preserve the juice, do not slice all the way through the meat. It should not be red or even faintly pink. Return it to the campfire and check it every 5 minutes until fully cooked.
- Seasoning packets can rescue and enliven many campfire dinners. They don't take up much space, so keep a variety on hand for other cuts of meat, chicken and vegetables.
Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. She launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues, and especially “all things marketing.”
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