Campfire Catfish

By Brad Durick

Camping season is in full swing and it’s time to enjoy some good food around the fire after a long day of fishing, boating, hiking, climbing, kayaking or whatever your passion may be. With a little prep work done it’s simple to have a gourmet meal with minimal effort. What I’m saying is leave the hotdogs at home, those are for amateurs. Foil packs are an easy way to prep the food at home without having to deal with prepping the food on a dirty picnic table, bugs swarming, or slipping with a knife because a headlamp is all you have for lighting. Simply pull them out of the cooler and toss in the hot coals. They’ve been around for as long as I remember, and they always seem to have the same thing; burger, potatoes, and some other random vegetable. It’s time to change that thinking.

Ingredients: (per one catfish)
(1) Whole catfish gutted, skinned, and fins and head removed. 1 to 1 1/2 pound catfish are about the perfect size for this.
(1) Clove of fresh garlic finely chopped
(2-3) slices of lemon
(1) Teaspoon whole peppercorns
(1) Teaspoon kosher salt
(1/8 cup) Chopped green onions
(2) Thin pats of butter
Heavy Duty foil

Wash the catfish and pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to remove any excess yellow fat and the fins. Place the catfish on a piece of heavy duty foil large enough to wrap around it twice. Regular strength foil will work fine, but I would use two layers of foil to prevent poking a hole in it while turning it in the coals. Stuff the cavity of the catfish with a lemon slice, a few peppercorns, some garlic and green onions. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on both sides of the catfish, add butter and wrap tightly in the foil. Keep refrigerated or in cooler until you are ready to cook.

When you have a nice hot bed of coals in the fire use a long stick or poker to channel out a small cavity in the coals. Drop the foil pack in the cavity and use the poker to mound up some coals around and on top of the fish. Depending on the type of wood used it will be anywhere from a 3-5 minutes and rotate the fish. If the foil is turning black it’s too hot. Give it a few more minutes on the other side and listen for the sizzle. Remove from the coals and let sit a few minutes before attempting to open the foil. When it has cooled enough to unwrap without scalding yourself, peel open the foil, enjoy the incredible smells wafting out of it, and serve immediately. And as always, stay safe out there and enjoy!