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Camp Recipe: Cooking Kabobs and Rice on the BioLite Wood-Burning Stove

Springtime in New England brings melting snow and a chance to get back on our rivers for some whitewater paddling. I love having hot food at the take-out to help satiate the hunger that comes from miles of paddling in the chilly air. As the resident foodie in my group of paddling buddies, I really look forward to the meal planning and preparation.

For this adventure, the folks over at BioLite gave me one of their new BioLite wood-burning stoves that has been featured this spring at REI. (Full disclosure: I’m a former REI employee who is paid to occasionally write about my passion, cooking in the outdoors, on The REI Blog.)


Our kayaking put-in spot on New Hampshire's Piscataquog River near Goffstown.

Rice cooking on the BioLite stove

If you haven’t heard of the BioLite stove, it most notably uses twigs and sticks as its fuel source and converts the heat from its fire into usable electricity.

The power module that clips onto the side of the stove houses both an internal fan system to recirculate hot air and stoke the fire inside and a USB hub to charge your electronics. The result is a fully functioning cooking stove that burns fuel found around you.

Fortunately, fallen trees and branches pushed downriver by rising water provided a nearly inexhaustible and easily accessible supply of wood to serve as fuel, saving me the trouble of having to pack fuel in my boat.

My meal choice for today: Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Rice.

For the first course, I made rice with garlic, onions and herbs cooked in chicken stock and a little brown ale. I chopped the onions and garlic at home and stored them and about 2 cups of rice in baggies for the trip. The chicken stock was made ahead of time at home by simmering thigh bones in water with a little salt and whole peppercorns. Both the brown ale and stock were transported to the river in sealed Nalgene bottles.

Once the BioLite stove was lit and the fire burned hotly, I placed a medium pan on top of the stove and filled it halfway with a 50/50 mixture of stock and ale. I heated the stock and ale mixture to a low boil and then added the garlic, onions, herbs (sage, thyme, salt and pepper) and rice and stirred until the grains were slightly crunchy (al dente). The pot with the rice was covered and removed from the stove to make room to prepare the next course.

Kabobs on BioLite grill attachment

The BioLite Grill attachment (left) has 2 legs that fold up for packing. The stove itself serves as the third leg of the tripod and slips into the grill from the bottom. A fuel hatch allows access to the heating chamber to add more twigs to the fire as needed.

I prepared 4 chicken thighs the previous day by cutting the meat off the bone, chopping it into 1” – 2” cubes and then freezing it in a double layer of baggies overnight. Since I knew the water temperature in the river would be close to 40°F, I placed the baggies of chicken in the hull of my boat next to the water where it would stay cool and mostly frozen during our run. By the time we reached the takeout, the chicken was still semi-frozen, but soft enough to pierce with wooden skewers.

I took 1 small onion that I had quartered at home and placed pieces on the skewers with the chicken cubes, added a little of the herb mix that I used to season the rice and placed the kabobs on the BioLite grill attachment. The smoke from the twigs that were used as fuel mixed with the onions to added additional flavor to the chicken.

Since it is important to thoroughly cook chicken, preparation time for the kabobs was a little over 30 minutes. However, this meal is definitely worth the wait.

The proof? Sean Ferrell, my kayaking partner for the last 6 seasons, asked that cooking post-run meals with the BioLite become a normal part of our river excursions throughout New England. So where will we take the BioLite stove next? Stay tuned and find out.

Full kabobs and rice recipe provided below.


Riverside Rice


  • 2 cups brown ale
  • 2 cups prepared or store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry rice
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 – 2 tsp herb mix (ground black pepper, sea salt, sage, thyme, rosemary & garlic powder)


  • Place brown ale and chicken stock into a hot pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add chopped onion and whole garlic cloves to the boiling liquid and cook for 3 – 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.
  • Add rice and lower heat to a simmer, continuously stirring until rice is al dente (soft on the outside, but slightly crunchy in the middle) and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Add herb mix to taste and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove rice from heat and cover to keep warm while the chicken kabobs are prepared.

Chicken Kabobs


  • 4 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 1" – 2" cubes
  • ¼ cup brown ale
  • 1 – 2 tsp herb mix (ground black pepper, sea salt, sage, thyme, rosemary & garlic powder)
  • 4 – 6 wooden skewers


  • Prepare chicken the day before by deboning 4 whole thighs (or buy boneless chicken thighs) and cutting meat into 1” – 2” cubes.
  • Place cubed meat into a plastic baggie with brown ale and store in a freezer. (I double bagged the meat to prevent leakage during transport). Allow meat to chill for at least 12 hours.
  • When ready to cook, pierce chicken with a wooden skewer, alternating the meat with pieces of the quartered onion.
  • Place kabobs (2 at a time works best for the BioLite stove) onto the hot grill attachment. It is very important that the grill surface has been fully preheated to ensure proper food sanitation.
  • Cook kabobs on high heat for 10 – 15 minutes, then turn the skewers and cook an additional 10 – 15 minutes on the other side.
  • To confirm that the meat is fully cooked, cut the largest piece of chicken on each kabob with the side of a plastic fork. The meat should separate easily and be white throughout. If any pink color is visible, place the kabob back on the grill and cook an additional 5 minutes per side.
  • Once fully cooked, remove kabobs and serve over a bed of Riverside Rice.
  • Makes 2 – 4 servings.

Posted on at 8:30 AM

Tagged: BioLite stove, cooking, food and paddling

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