Years before I had even heard of a panini, I was making mountain pies on camping trips. My family had two 'mountain pie makers' or irons and they were a staple for any vacation and often a part of summer bonfires in the backyard.
When we got married, I decided it was time for my own mountain pie maker and we registered for one. As we've used it on our own camping trips, I've been shocked to learn how few people know about this beautiful thing.
You can find the irons at camping and outdoor stores and they come in a variety of shapes. I prefer the square shape and the tapered sides. My mom swears by Old Mountain.
Mountain pies are great for a group camping trip because everyone can make their own sandwich. We had a great time on a bigger trip making it into a competition to see who could make the best combination. There were some stellar pies, including:
- Ham, swiss, and mustard (Bavarian Mt. Pie)
- Blueberry jam and marshmallow
- "S'mores" Mt. Pie (marshmallow and chocolate with bread)
- Blueberry jam, banana slices, chocolate, and granola
- Monterey jack + salsa
...but my favorite is the classic pizza with sauce, shredded cheese, and some cut up pepperoni slices. That's what I'll show here in this Instructable.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
In addition to the mountain pie iron and a good fire with a lot of hot embers, you'll need:
- Bread (best is square slices instead of rectangular ones)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle (Yup, this is a thing!)
- Pepperoni slices, or whatever other 'toppings' you'd like. Just remember if they're meat toppings that they should be precooked and ready to use
Step 2: Prep Your Iron
Mountain pie irons are made of cast iron and follow all the same rules. Try not to wash with soap, don't worry about chucking it in the middle of the fire, and a lil' love from Pam will make everything go smoothly.
Give your iron a spray of Pam before laying down the bread and repeat this step between each mountain pie you make!
Step 3: Place the Bread
I recommend building up the entire sandwich on one side instead of a little on each and then trying to flip it over onto itself. It's just cleaner.
Also, be careful if you're not making the first mountain pie as the cast iron will be very, very hot. You should still be able to assemble your mountain pies on the iron itself, but if you have little ones helping to make these delicious creations be sure they understand not to touch the parts that just came out of the fire.
Step 4: Add Your Toppings
Place your topping in any order you'd like - it'll all get sealed up in a delicious pocket of campfirey goodness no matter how you do it.
A few suggestions:
- Be careful how much sauce, jam, or filling you add as that's the part that will likely come out as smoking hot lava. Less is more on this front.
- Try to keep your toppings centered in the middle of the slice of bread
- Things like pepperoni slices, apple slices, or pepper strips are good to cut up into even smaller pieces. It's not for when you are cooking but afterwards while you're taking hot bites of the gooey goodness that you'll thank me.
Try not to over-stuff your first few! You'll get the hang of it, but in the meantime you can always make another :-)
Step 5: Close 'er Up!
Take the other slice of bread and position it on top of your toppings and then close the iron together. Most new irons come with a clasp to keep it closed in the fire but somehow ours always seem to fall off. There's a little leather tie around the handles and that seems to be enough to do the trick while it's in the fire.
Oh, and don't worry about any bread that is poking out of the sides. It'll burn off or you can scrape it off while you're taking it out of the fire.
Step 6: Put It in the Fire
Place your closed mountain pie iron in the hottest part of the fire - ideally wedged in between some embers.
Every fire is different and so there's no perfect timing guideline. I recommend checking after the first minute, especially if you have a really hot fire, and look at both sides to see the color of the bread. You might need to flip the iron over and continue cooking on the other side if the top and bottom are receiving different amounts of heat.
Check the pies by pulling the entire iron out of the fire and lifting the top handle to check the bread. If it looks like the pie is stuck to the top side, close it, flip it over, and check the other side. It's helpful to have a fork or knife (not plastic!) on hand to help wriggle the mountain pie free, even after spraying it with Pam as the edges can hook onto the iron.
Again, the first mountain pie of the night will take longer to cook than the rest and the same is true if it's been a while since someone has made one. The heat of the fire will also change, so just keep an eye on your mountain pies while they're in the fire.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Moutain Pie
The insides will be hot if you did it right, so be careful as you eat!
If it's cool enough to handle, you can break off any burned bits and toss them back into the fire.
We've done this over campfires, in our backyard, in fireplaces, and with charcoal at a BBQ! All you need is a strong, hot heat source that can surround the mountain pie maker and you're in business.
I hope you make your own and if you do, please share your new flavor combinations in the comments below!