Mac & cheese can be an incredibly comforting meal to make while camping. Especially if it’s cool outside or if the weather looks a bit gloomy, a hearty bowl of cheesy macaroni can really lift the mood. But what makes the difference between ordinary Mac & Cheese and extraordinary entree style mac & cheese? That crispy, crunchy oven baked crust on top.
Achieving this can be a bit of a challenge at a campsite. One way would be to use a Dutch oven (a worthy piece of equipment we would recommend for any camper). But if you don’t have one, there’s another – more flashy way – to achieve the same effect: a blowtorch.
While a blowtorch might seem a little excessive to bring camping, it actually has a lot of practical uses. First and foremost being its ability to persuade less than ideal firewood to catch fire. But a torch can also help you toast up your mac & cheese.
If you are using a camping stove that takes one of those green propane tanks, then you already have a half of what you need for a blowtorch. Just unscrew the fuel canister, attach the torch head, and you’re ready to go.
To make post-dinner cleanup a snap, we made this mac & cheese in a single cast iron skillet. Once we mixed our cheese and seasonings in with the cooked macaroni, we spread olive oil covered panko over the top. We ran the blowtorch over it and before we knew it we had a delicious toasted breadcrumb top.
So the next time you’re camping, bring along a torch and give your mac & cheese a little extra flare.
Why It Works for Camping
‣ This recipe allows you to get that crispy, crunchy top on your macaroni and cheese without using an oven.
‣ If you’re cooking on a camp stove, you already have the propane canister, which is half of what you need for a blowtorch.
‣ There’s an undeniable wow factor when cooking with a blowtorch. This doesn’t really have anything to do with camping specifically. It’s just a fact.
Mastering the Technique
‣ You want to light your torch (and adjust the flame) before pointing it at your food. Propane does not taste good. You will want to avoid unintentionally blowing any unlit fuel onto your food, otherwise, it will be left with an unappetizing aftertaste.
‣ Making pasta in a skillet is a great way to reduce water and eliminate the need to strain. In this recipe, we combined 1 cup of pasta with 2 cups and brought it to a boil
‣ We used a Bernzomatic 4500 Heat Shrink torch for this recipe. The wider flame profile allows us to heat a broader surface area. However, they have a wide range of torches and many of them would work for this recipe (we have used the TS4000 for recipes as well).
Toasty Mac and CheesePRINT RECIPE
- 1 cup macaroni
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheese (half cheddar, half swiss)
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ cup panko
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Add the macaroni, water, and salt to a 10” skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the pasta until it’s tender, about 10 minutes (though the time may vary depending on the pasta you use - the time on the package is a good estimate). Stir often to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
- In the meantime, combine the breadcrumbs and oil in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until the crumbs are evenly coated.
- Once the pasta has cooked through, turn the stove off and remove from the heat. Mix in the cheese, mustard, and thyme. Spread the breadcrumbs over the top of the macaroni. Heat the breadcrumbs with your torch, sweeping the flame back and forth over the dish until the crumbs are golden brown.
- Serve & enjoy!
10” cast iron skillet
Dishes & utensils for serving
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