Caramelized onions, shredded pork and fresh red and green peppers all wrapped in a warm tortilla make this dish something your guests will brag you up for making.

Crimson flames licking a skillet have a way of holding your attention, and it’s not just the delicious promise of something seared. There are plenty of ways to make a fire, to make lunch. There certainly is no need to cut the face of a fat birch log with a gas-powered chainsaw, light a fire in one standing end and cook lunch in a cast iron skillet. Being outdoors is good fun and cooking food on fire is part of it. Swedish logs are a sporting way to get a lunch fire going. Sometimes we do things only because we can; besides, it will give you something to talk about on Monday when you’re back at the office.

 

Veggies and carnita meat in a cast iron skillet

Cast iron is the best choice for searing carnitas meat and vegetables.

 

Anything you would cook over high heat in a cast-iron skillet, you can cook on a Swedish log. Sear a well-marbled rib steak? No problem. Whistle up a mushroom-Swiss omelette? Piece of cake. Flambé some sour cherries to top homemade ice cream? Well, yes, but no need to get carried away.

How to Prepare your Swedish Log Fire

While you can use whatever heat source you have handy, making a Swedish log is a flat-out fun challenge and demonstrates your innovative skill as an outdoors expert. Select a 12-14” wide log cut 18” long. My preference is a longer burning birch log if you can find one. Cut three intersecting crisscrosses in one end.

 

Chainsaw cutting three intersecting cuts in a Swedish log

Chainsaw makes quick work of three intersecting cuts.

 

Stand the log on its end so the cuts face up.

 

Three cuts in a birch log

Three cuts in a birch log end makes a Swedish log for cooking.

 

Light a fire at the intersection of the cuts. In a few minutes the fire will burn into the log and the ‘fingers’ of wood will support the skillet.

 

Fire starting in the swedish log

A bit of coarse sawdust is the perfect Swedish log Firestarter.

 

Tools 

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 1 pound (454 grams) of pre-cooked pork carnitas meat made in advance. (My preference is to slow-smoke a well-seasoned pork shoulder, shred, package and freeze for anticipated camping trips.
  • 8 corn tortillas, wrapped in aluminum foil and warmed over the fire
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 each red and green peppers, topped, seeded and sliced
  • Your favourite salsa
  • Salt, black pepper for adjusting seasoning
  • Toasted coriander, hot crushed chilies—combine and grind lightly in mortar
  • Cooking fat (lard or vegetable oil)

How to Prepare your Carnitas on a Swedish Log Fire:

  1. Prepare your fire to cook. I made a Swedish log out of a single birch log with crisscross cuts in one end. Light the centre of the log end where the cuts intersect. This will support the skillet while cooking.
  2. Peel and slice onions and peppers.
  3. When the fire is ready, heat the lard in the skillet and add the vegetables.
  4. When the onions are caramelized, add the shredded pork and seasonings to heat through and brown a bit.
  5. Wrap the tortillas in two layers of aluminum foil and warm over the fire for a few minutes, turning every minute or so.
  6. Fill the warm tortillas with the filling and top with your favourite salsa.
    Carnita filling in a tortilla wrap

    There is nothing like an outdoor, fire-cooked carnitas.

 

These carnitas are delicious. The fire makes the skillet very hot for a nice mahogany finish on the meat. Coriander and hot chilies are a perfect combination to create tongue-tingling, lip-smacking flavour. Caramelized onions, and fresh red and green peppers make this dish something your guests will brag about – not to mention the stories they will tell about your skill with a Swedish log fire.

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