Take your campfire dinner to a whole new level of awesome with these crowd-pleasing, stick to your ribs campfire carne asada fries. Sponsored by Idaho Potato Commission.
After teaching my girls cooking last year for my summer cooking camp, I wowed them with easy and delicious meals that their kids could help make. For this year’s camp, I knew I had to kick it up a notch and develop a menu that would really impress these 11-year old food connoisseurs.
So, I decided to take it outdoors with these Campfire Carne Asada Fries.
Why you have to make this recipe
I live in San Diego, where Mexican food gets influenced with California living. It is also the birthplace of carne asada fries. But, what are they??
Have you heard of poutine? If you don’t know, poutine is a dish that originates from Montreal, Quebec. It is basically french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Consider this dish to be the Mexican twist to poutine.
A bed of french fries topped with carne asada (Mexican steak), cheese and whatever extras you might find on nachos: guacamole, sour cream, salsa and cilantro.
I told my girls we would be making San Diego’s answer to poutine with this carne asada fries. And to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service with the Idaho Potato Commission. And, we were going to make this dish outdoors. My girls were giddy with excitement.
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How to make carne asada fries outdoors
If you are camping, you can marinate your skirt steak in resealable bags before you leave home. All the garnishes can be made ahead of time or you can prepare them at camp, it’s up to you.
But the cooking, well that is all done over hot coals, whether you are using store-bought coals or wood embers from your campfire. For the sake of my camp and the 85ºF weather we had going on that day, I lit up charcoal in my chimney.
I don’t know what it is about peeling potatoes, but these kids LOVE PEELING POTATOES. Parents take note: for a good time and help in the kitchen, get your kids to peel the potatoes!
Because we were cooking the taters over coals, I chose to use foil packs as our cooking vessel. You can also pan fry, roast and even deep fry when camping. Me, I like a quick cleanup so I chose foil. USE HEAVY DUTY FOIL AND NOT REGULAR FOIL.
The potatoes do not necessarily get super crispy with this method, so do not cut your potatoes super thin. I like big, fat potato wedges and they made a hearty base for the carne asada and all the toppings that would accompany the fries.
So, fat potato wedges coated in extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with lots of spices and flavor.
Parents take note: kids actually do like flavor so do not skimp on the spice. And by spice I mean spices and not spicy, although some kids do like it HOT!
Foil pack cooking for fries
Place the seasoned potatoes in your foil square and fold two opposite sides up above the fries and roll it down. Do not roll it all the way to the potatoes as you need room for the steam and heat to flow.
Then roll the ends and bend them up. Each one of our foil packets contained 10-15 potato wedges without being overcrowded. Place the foil packets over a bed of hot coals, rotating them for even cooking and rearranging them so the outside packets get a chance to cook in the center of the coals.
All this maneuvering is to insure even cooking. With our fat wedges, the potatoes took about 20 minutes to cook completely.
Grilling carne asada
And while the potatoes cooked, I quickly grilled the carne asada on a portable grill rack we have over another bed of hot coals. Many campground have grills available, but check BEFORE you leave for your trip. If you enjoy camping as much as we do, it pays to invest in a portable grate.
If you are grilling at home, you want medium-high to high heat. The thin meat does not take long to cook, so don’t wander off while your carne asada is on the grill. We liked our meat medium-rare, but definitely cook to your personal preference.
The girls were enjoying the beautiful day while I cooked up the meal. Many were not avid campers and were thrilled to “camp” at cooking camp. All the giggling and chitter chatter that is usually associated with a group of 11-year old girls ceased when it came to eating.
What to serve with carne asada fries
As you could expect with nachos, carne asada fries are naked without the toppings! My girls made all the toppings for the carne asada fries. They happily piled on the homemade baby heirloom pico de gallo, the homemade guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese and slivers of radishes.
They ate and they ate until they couldn’t eat anymore. Every other day at camp my girls would take home their leftovers and I would get texts from their moms telling me how much they enjoyed the leftovers.
On campfire carne asada fries day, there were no leftovers for them to take home. My girls ate it all! Sorry, Moms and Dads, you’ll have make this yourself to try it!
Need more campfire recipes? Then check out my new cookbook, The Camp & Cabin Cookbook (Countryman Press 2018). I have 100 recipes that are all prepared outdoors and over fire using multiple techniques. Learn more about my new book and where you can get your copy here!
- 2 pound Idaho® potatoes
- 2 pounds flap or skirt steak
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, divided
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 medium sized onion, quartered
- 3 radishes, julienned
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cup guacamole
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup lime juice, divided
- 1 TBS soy sauce
- 1 TBS cumin
- 3 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp chile powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Add garlic, onion, 1/2 bunch cilantro, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, soy sauce, cumin, 1 tsp salt and black pepper in a blender and pulse until coarsely pureed.
- Place steak into a large resealable bag, pour in marinade, zip shut and squish around to make sure all of meat is well coated.
- Refrigerate 4-6 hours, or up to overnight.
- To make pico de gallo, combine tomato, red onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 TBS lime juice and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir and reserve.
- Peel and cut potatoes into wedges.
- Add potatoes in a large bowl and evenly coat with 1/4 cup olive oil.
- Season potatoes with garlic powder, chile powder, 2 tsp salt and onion powder.
- Using heavy duty foil, cut foil squares and place 5-10 potato wedges in each square. You do not want to over-stuff the foil packets. you want enough room for steam to go between the potato wedges. The number of fries depends on the size of the wedges and the size of the square.
- Grab 2 opposite sides of the foil square and pull up and above the potatoes. Roll the foil together down to just above the potatoes, about 1/2-inch. Grab the unrolled sides of the foil and twist each to itself until tight, then curl the tip up.
- To cook potatoes over a grill, heat grill over medium-high heat and place foil packets on the grill. Rotate the packets and turn them over to cook evenly. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Be careful opening the foil packets as you will release a lot of steam!
- To cook potatoes over coals, fill chimney with coals and place in a fire ring or fire safe container. Add kindling or newspaper scraps underneath chimney and light it up. When flames have receded and coals are orange, dump coals into fire ring in one layer. Place foil packets in the coals and rotate the packets and turn them over to cook evenly. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Be careful opening the foil packets as you will release a lot of steam!
- To cook carne asada over a grill, heat on high and grill steak about 5 minutes each side.
- To cook carne asada over coals, fill chimney with coals and place in a fire ring or fire safe container. Add kindling or newspaper scraps underneath chimney and light it up. When flames have receded and coals are orange, dump coals into fire ring in one layer. Place your grate over the hot coals and and grill steak about 5 minutes each side, or until cooked to desired doneness.
- Transfer steak to a cutting board and allow to rest for a few minutes before chopping. Chop into small bite-sized pieces.
- To serve, place potato wedges on your plate and top with carne asada.
- Top with pico de gallo and guacamole, sour cream, julienned radishes, shredded cheese and wedges of lime.
Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 785Total Fat: 52gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 1698mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 8gSugar: 5gProtein: 44g
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Disclosure: I was paid a stipend to develop a recipe cooking Idaho Potatoes in the great outdoors. The opinions I expressed in this post are 100% all mine. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it.