Just about anything you can cook in a conventional oven can be cooked outdoors in (or on!) a Dutch oven. With a little practice and some patience say goodbye to hot dogs, trail mix, and boil in the bag eggs. Instead, say hello to hearty stews, roasted dinners, baked bread, pizzas, and pies. A Dutch oven will give you great results and camp food that is going to be hard to forget.
If you’re just starting out with Dutch oven cooking, then it’s good to start with something simple – that way you can learn how to regulate your temperatures and timing. Additionally, if you are using a new dutch oven, try something that involves a lot of fat (maybe bacon?). This will help to build up a good layer of seasoning on the oven and help you get a feel for the amount of heat generated from your coals and the fire.
Many recipes that you make at home can be adapted for being made in your new dutch oven. You may, however, need to adjust the amount of liquid you use, since the closed lid on the oven creates a steaming affect on the food. There are many, very good Dutch oven cookbooks available, so starting with one of these might be the easiest.
Most dutch oven cooking is done using charcoal briquettes placed on the lid and underneath the pot. This method makes it pretty easy to estimate and, most importantly, regulate the temperature, giving you better cooking results. It also helps to heat the oven evenly, preventing your food from burning. The other advantages of using Charcoal is that it does not take up a lot of room when transporting (much less than wood), it burns longer and hotter than wood. When using Charcoal you want to avoid piling or bunching up the briquettes as this will cause hot spots in your cooking, here are three possible patterns you could try.
A checkerboard pattern under oven and on the lid.
A circle pattern under oven and on the lid.
A circle under oven and checkerboard on the lid.
In a 12″ dutch oven, here is a chart that will help you determine the number or briquettes needed (for top and bottom of your dutch oven) to achieve the temperature you require.
Have a recipe that is amazing in the dutch oven? Share it with us below!
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