Sleep In The Dirt

Your Very Own Chef in the Backcountry

Essays From the Field

We snagged professional Chef Rob Citto to share some of his tastiest car-camping recipes. With years of experience behind his apron, we knew he had some great flavors up his sleeve. With deep roots in the Guest Ranch industry (in Big Agnes territory), Rob knows how to get five star fancy, and backcountry creative. With all the creature comforts of Big Agnes gear, Chef Rob shares some tricks. Gourmet isn’t impossible in the great outdoors.

My uncle Bob told me once that camping to him was sleeping on the floor of a hotel room. Still makes me laugh when I think about that I don’t share the same thoughts but I do agree that when it comes to car/Rv camping or backcountry camping it doesn’t have to feel like roughing it when it comes to the food aspect of camping. Having the right tent, camp seat and “gadgets” can make camping fun no matter how far or close you are to civilization. Weight is an issue when camping in the back country but I always pack heavy the for the first night of camping because I know it will be the best meal of the trip after that I try to go as light as I can but without sacrificing the food. I can only eat so many freeze dried meals. Car/Rv camping you don’t need to go light you can pack your whole kitchen in the back of your truck if you wanted. Fill an ice chest with days of food and eat like a Kings and Queens, even the wine can be pared with your meal but I will save that for another blog. When planning a trip I always get a list together to make sure I bring the right equipment and get the food I need. Once on the trail that’s it!

I used to camp with fellow chefs and we always tried to outdo each other. I know once I made Beer can chicken and kept glazing it with the beer I was drinking. I guess it’s a “thing” now but back in 1996 we thought we have created something new. Another time I made a tandoori oven to prove a point to a fellow camping buddy of mine and after digging a hole and lining it with river rocks getting the coals just right I got to eat my chicken….a long time after everyone else but it worked and the chicken was delicious. What I’m saying is a little creativity can be fun and go a long way, also camping technology has come so far and gotten so much lighter if you plan it properly you can eat amazing meals in the middle of nowhere and feel like packing in the grocery store on your back.I’ve been spending the past month in Texas and had Texas BBQ on the mind so I came up with these two recipes. Please feel free to give me feedback or if you want me to try something out I will try it. Next week I am planning a back country trip and will try a new recipe, River Rock Blistered Flatbread pizza. Enjoy!

-Chef Rob


Car Camping Cast Iron Skillet Ribeye

1 Each 10 ounce Ribeye

Kosher Salt and Pepper

1 Cup Bean Sprouts

1 Cup Cremini mushrooms sliced

1 ½ Tablespoons of Soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon chopped ginger

1/8 teaspoon chopped garlic

¼ cup Scallions sliced thin



1.Season the ribeye with salt and pepper (be careful soy adds sodium so go light and add more if needed.

2. Bring cast iron up to temperature add oil when it smokes add ribeye

3. Depending on how you like it will depend on how long on each side. 4 mins on each side will bring you to medium rare.

4. Once meat is cooked set aside to rest drain off excess grease

5. Then add mushrooms, sprouts to cast iron pan that meat was cooked in and stir for about 2 minutes, Add ginger, garlic, scallion’s and cook for another 20 seconds add soy sauce and take off the heat. Pour over the top of steak and serve.



Car Camping Texas BBQ Spring Roll

1 pound shredded BBQ Pork Butt

1 T Vegetable oil

8-10Ounce Package rice vermicelli noodles (cooked to package instructions)

1 small head of cut into strips

1 Medium Cucumber cut into small stripes

1 Tablespoon of Basil chopped fine

12 (8-inch) rice paper wrappers (Dipped in Hot water for a few seconds to soften the paper)



1. Cook vermicelli and reserve.

2. For the BBQ pork Take the pork butt and shred with a knife and sauté in a cast iron skillet or whatever regular sauté pan you have handy. Add the BBQ of your choice or use BBq recipe below and cook until tender about 15-20 minutes, make sure that it is not too soupy when building the rolls as to not over power the subtle flavors.

3. To make the rice paper. Heat up a pot of water and dip the paper in that water for 3 seconds and flip for another 3 seconds. Set aside on a plate or cutting board.

4. Gather all your ingredients on a plate: Noodles, pork, lettuce, basil and cooked rice paper

5. Lay your lettuce on the first spring roll wrapper then add herbs, cucumber, noodle then the pork. Start Fold then tuck in the left and right side, continue to roll until the roll is formed. (Be careful to roll too tight because it could rip or tare.

6. Serve with Dipping sauce.

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