Pie Iron Cooking

Pie Iron Cooking
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Pie Iron Cooking 

Pie Iron Cooking Over a Fire

Summer is the perfect time to cook over a campfire, even if gas prices are keeping you at home this year. I have been cooking over a fire for almost 25 years now, and I can honestly say it's one of my favorite cooking methods during the summer. 

My husband's family always made "Tonka Pies", which were sandwiches or pies cooked in a pie iron over a campfire.  Apollo, a company out of Minnesota which is no longer in business, manufactured “Tonka Toasters“  for many years which is why so many Midwesterners still refer to this camping food as “Tonka Pies.“

They are called many different things, depending on where campers were born and raised, including Pudgy Pies or Hobo Pies. 

Pie Irons are available from other companies, and many are made out of cast iron, which I prefer over the aluminum casting.  You’ll find pie irons that are round, square and rectangle.

Ours have always been square, and we now own a single, and a double iron. Whichever pie iron you choose to purchase, it will come with instructions on seasoning the iron, and caring for the metal. 

The recipes I'm sharing can be made in a traditional campground fire pit, but you can also cook over a fire ring or a charcoal grill. The basic tools you will need are: 

-Two heavy grill mitts or gloves

-One or two pie irons

-An old butter knife or flat tip screwdriver

-One thick scrap piece of wood


Regular potholders can be used, but always make sure they are heavy enough to protect your hands. The irons become extremely hot. There are also heatproof gloves available that work well.

You will need at least one pie iron, ideally two single irons or one double style will work the best. What is a pie iron? It’s a camping gadget that has two cast iron squares, rounds or rectangles attached to handles with wooden ends. When closed they fit together tightly, held by a metal clip. 

Below I give the basic instructions on using the pie iron, followed by recipes that we've made over and over while camping with our kids. Use your imagination to come up with more pie recipes. If you have a favorite sandwich, it can usually be converted to a pie iron meal. Any meat that is used in the pies should be cooked ahead of time, and the same goes for vegetables. The filling will be hot, but it's not in the fire long enough to actually cook a raw ingredient.

Pie Iron Cooking

The Basics: 

1. Place slices of bread, butter side down, on one-half of the pie iron. Spoon fruit, meat, or other filling in the center of the bread, spreading it around to about an inch from the sides. 

2. Place a second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of fillings. Close the pie iron, latching the hook or catch. Trim off excess bread with a knife. (Save for feeding the ducks or birds later.) 

3. The fire, whether charcoal or wood, should be burned down so coals remain that are red and hot.  Place the pie iron on top of the coals for 2 minutes, turn and cook two more minutes. Remove from the fire, and place on the piece of scrap wood. Using the butter knife or screwdriver, flip the catch on the iron. Open with the knife, or your oven mitt covered hand. The pie should be lightly browned on the outside, and hot on the inside. If it's not cooked enough, close and hook the catch again. Return to the fire for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Open, and serve.


The Recipes 

Simple Fruit Pie: Prepare bread as it explains, and place a medium sized spoonful of pie filling in the middle of the bread-spread out slightly. A marshmallow in the middle of the pie filling is always fun too. Lemon, blueberry and cherry pie fillings all work wonderfully. 

Breakfast Pies: Softly scramble eggs (one of each pie). Place a spoonful of eggs in each pie topped with chopped ham, shredded cheese, hash browns or fried potatoes, salt and black pepper.  Cook until cheese melts and ingredients are hot. Any omelet ingredients work well with this pie. 

Pizza Pies: Spread tomato sauce on the bread, and top with pepperoni slices, and cheese. Optional ingredients: onion, green pepper, sausage, mushrooms, bacon or other pizza items. 

Grilled Cheese: Place one slice of American cheese on the bread and sprinkle with favorite shredded cheese. Cook as instructed. Optional: Any deli meat can be added. 

French Toast Pies: Use cinnamon bread-or cinnamon raisin- in the middle of the bread spread a nice layer of cream cheese and a spoonful of cherry or blueberry pie filling.

Safety Note: Kids can help assemble the pies, but always make sure they know you are heading their way with a hot pie iron. Straight out of the fire, the iron can burn quite badly. We always made it fun by yelling out that a pie was done and coming over to the table.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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