Hickory-smoked bacon sizzles on a griddle. The fat pools, spreads, and infuses eggs scambling in butter nearby.
Did your salivary glands just twitch? Of course they did. Any vegans reading this—you had the same reaction. Oh, you might suppress it, pretend it didn’t happen, but somewhere deep down your atavistic omnivore is beseeching you to reject dietary self-flagellation and embrace your rightful place in the food chain.
We all know that eating bacon and eggs on a daily basis is probably not a wise habit—and besides, it wouldn’t be a treat then. But there’s no harm in indulging on a camping trip. Imagine: Dawn breaks over distant peaks, a breeze stirs pine trees overhead, blue jays greet the new day with a raucous chorus, and you stand over a fire with a cup of coffee, inhaling the scent of . . . frying tofu? C’mon.
To do bacon and eggs—and many other proper camping dishes—correctly it’s nice to have a griddle. At home we use cast iron, but that’s a bit heavy for a mobile kitchen when you consider its specialized niche. So we recently tried the Pinnacle Griddle from GSI Outdoors. It’s aluminum and just a bit over two pounds, yet offers a generous 10 by 18-inch cooking area surrounded by a grease moat. The surface is some non-stick space-age stuff—which we eschew at home but which is nice for cleaning up with a limited water supply. The back is hard-anodized (GSI offers a non-anodized version called the Bugaboo).
That one-and-a-quarter square foot size is perfect because, a) when we do eat bacon and eggs we eat a lot, and, b) because it fits nicely over our large Snow Peak Pack and Carry fireplace. (Snow Peak makes a cast iron griddle insert for their fireplace bridge, but it's ridged, and suitable only for cooking meat; we also use our griddle for pancakes and flatbreads.)
Cooking over mesquite coals accomplishes two things. First, it adds to the atmosphere of the experience; second, it keeps that atmosphere out of the camper, where too much bacon grease and smoke too often would not be good for the canopy and upholstery. The griddle also fits in the fireplace’s (insanely obtuse) carrying case.
The Pinnacle Griddle’s aluminum is fairly thin, which means low heat will suffice, but not so thin that there were hotspots—it heated and cooked evenly for both bacon and pancakes. However, the surface of ours also came slightly convexly warped, so that an egg cracked in the middle would sort of elongate toward the edge until corraled with a spatula. I plan to see if it will flatten, using some heavy boards and judicious pressure.
In the meantime, it’s working just fine—and we’ve successfully subverted several vegans at group camps.
Visit GSI here.