WITH A DUTCH OVEN
Dutch Oven cooking can be your alternative means for making
food for your family should there be no normal means to
do so. A Dutch Oven can cook almost anything you can cook
in your kitchen oven, but I think it does even better!
Traditionally Dutch Oven is made of cast iron and sits
on three legs to keep it above the coals. Cooking pots
similar to today's Dutch Ovens have been in use since
around the 7th century.
OVEN - COOKING WITH A DUTCH OVEN!
of being a Prepper is having alternative means of doing
things. As far as cooking goes, Dutch Oven cooking can be
your alternative means for making food for your family should
there be no normal means to do so. A Dutch Oven can cook
almost anything you can cook in your kitchen oven, but I
think it does even better!
Dutch Oven is made of cast iron and sits on three legs to
keep it above the coals. The lid has a rim on it to keep
hot coals in place and it has a steel handle to remove it
from the heat. Cooking pots similar to today's Dutch Ovens
have been in use since around the 7th century. The Dutch
Oven has been continually refined into what it is today.
A 12 inch pot is large enough for most meals you cook
in a Dutch Oven and recipes can be easily adapted depending
on what size your pot is. The popularity of the Dutch
Oven was due to its versatility and that still holds true
today. You can boil, bake, stew, fry, roast, etc in a
Dutch Oven and then some.
In addition to purchasing a Dutch Oven you may want accessories
such as lid lifter, heavy-duty tongs, gloves, and a lid
holder. None of those are essential, but make life easier.
It's advisable to cook in an enclosed fire ring or similar
structure to minimize the chance of the fire getting away
Start by getting your coals nice and hot and get your
Dutch Oven in place. Once they are good and hot, place
your ingredients inside and close the lid. You want to
place coals on the top and bottom of the Dutch Oven to
get it to the right temperature.
Once you have cooked your meal in your Dutch Oven you
will want to clean and season it for it to last a long
time! The easiest way to do this is to remove all your
food scraps, wash the Dutch Oven in hot water, and then
apply cooking oil over its entire inside surface. Heat
the Dutch Oven so that the oil is absorbed providing a
protective layer. If rust appears remove it quickly using
an abrasive such as steel wool or a scrub brush to prolong
its life. Wash, rinse, and then season as normal.
Dutch Oven Cooking is an easy way to cook just about anything
for your totally off the grid! You don't need anything
fancy to get started nor a lot of money.
OF COOKING WITH A DUTCH OVEN.
CHOOSING YOUR DUTCH OVEN
A few important guidelines to keep in mind. Aluminum Dutch
ovens weigh about one-third less than their cast iron
counterparts. They require no curing, and, like the cast
iron pots, can be used over open fires, buried underground,
or used with coals or briquettes. However, aluminum ovens
do not retain heat as well nor distribute it as evenly
as cast iron. The flavoring of foods produced will also
be different. Aluminum ovens sometimes give a chalky flavor
to foods, whereas iron ovens give a smoked flavor to foods.
Dutch ovens range in size from
8 to 22 inches in diameter. The most commonly used are
10-inch, 12-inch, and 14-inch ovens. The larger ovens
hold more if you're cooking for large groups, but they
are huge, heavy, and hard to handle.
buying a cast iron Dutch oven, whether new or used, look
carefully at these five important areas:
Only buy Dutch ovens with legs. Some are manufactured
with flat bottoms and are far more difficult to use.
Check the fit of the lid. It should lie flush with the
lip of the oven all the way around, with no significant
Check the casting, or thickness, of the metal, especially
around the rim. Areas that are 15% (or more) thicker or
thinner than the remaining areas will produce hot or cold
spots during cooking and cooling.
Make sure the lid has a loop handle, cleanly attached
to its center.
Check the bail (the wire handle) attached to the oven
itself. It should be easily movable and strong enough
to use for carrying or hanging a heavy pot full of stew
YOUR DUTCH OVEN BEFORE USE
Once you have an oven, it must be cured. This
process will keep your oven from rusting and produce an
interior coating that will prevent food from sticking.
The process is very simple. If you have an old rusty oven,
scrub it well and use a fine-grade sandpaper to clean
up and expose the entire surface, inside and out. Once
the metal is exposed—or if you are curing a new
oven—wash the entire oven well with hot soapy water.
This will remove the waxy coating from a new oven and
the fine metal dust remaining in an old reconditioned
heat your Dutch oven, with the lid on, to about 200°
in the oven in your home. (You can also do this in a fire,
with coals or briquettes.) While the oven is hot, pour
or drop in a small amount of oil, shortening, or lard,
and while wearing oven mitts or heavy leather gloves,
use a clean cotton cloth to wipe the entire surface well,
inside and out, to coat it with the shortening, oil, or
lard. When the oven is coated, heat it to 350° for
an hour. If you do this in your house, expect some smoke.
After an hour of heating, let the oven cool slowly. Force-cooling
a cast iron oven by putting it in a freezer, snow bank,
or outside during a cold rain, can crack or warp it.
you have your oven cured, it is ready for cooking. However,
after each subsequent use and cleaning, you maintain and
strengthen the cure by wiping a very light coat of oil,
shortening, or lard over the dry, warm oven.
never scrape or scour a Dutch oven. Using metal utensils
or wire scrubbers or brushes can remove the curing and
allow food to stick in the exposed areas unless the oven
Most frequent Dutch oven users have found that wiping
out excess food with a paper towel, then washing the pot
with hot soapy water and a sponge will produce a clean
and sanitary oven. Remember, after cleaning, be sure to
dry the oven completely, then wipe a light coat of your
chosen oil over the entire surface of your oven, inside
and out, legs included, using a paper towel or cotton
cloth. Soon your oven will have a beautiful dark brown
or black coat that will be amazingly easy to keep clean.
addition to the utensils you are familiar with, there
are other tools unique to Dutch ovens which will make
your efforts safer, easier, and more successful.
You will need a pair of loose-fitting leather gloves long
enough to cover your wrists.
Another tool you will need is a lid lifter. The most typical
is a wire-handled hook.
Lid holders are also a necessity. This tool may be anything
from a clean brick to a three- or four-legged wire rack.
It is used to keep hot lids off tables and counter tops
or out of the dirt when the cook is adding spices or checking
the progress of meals cooking.
Long-handled tongs are an invaluable addition to your
Dutch oven tools. Even a cheap stainless steel pair will
last indefinitely. Tongs are used to place, add, or remove
coals as necessary.
A small shovel is also important. This small tool, a garden
shovel or fireplace shovel, is used for moving coals from
a fire, digging a long-cook pit, or burying excess extinguished
The last special tool you will want to consider is a whisk
broom. The broom is used to brush the dirt, ashes, etc.,
off the lid and side of your oven in preparation for serving.
TO COOK WITH A DUTCH OVEN
You can prevent
burned bottoms, raw tops, and dried-out foods by using
properly sized and spaced coals to control the interior
oven temperature. Virtually all baked goods can be baked
successfully at 350°, which is the ideal temperature
for a Dutch oven. To establish and maintain this temperature,
the first thing to remember is to use coals from a fire
that are roughly the same size as charcoal briquettes.
Or, for more consistency, use briquettes. Charcoal briquettes
will burn longer and more evenly than coals from a fire.
Use the best briquettes you can afford. There is a difference
in quality, and the more expensive brands are generally
worth the additional cost.
The number and placement
of the coals on and under your oven is critical.The optimal
number of coals used for any oven is based on its diameter.
For example, if you are using a 12-inch oven, you will
need two coals per inch, a total of 24. More coals will
likely burn your food and less may necessitate too long
a cooking period. To determine how many coals go under
and how many go on top, remember the magic number 2.
The placement of
the coals is also an important part of proper heat regulation.
The proper layout for coals or briquettes under the oven
is circular. Coals should be approximately one inch apart
in a circle under the oven. Never place coals directly
under the center of the oven. If you do, you will create
a hot spot and burn whatever you are cooking. By placing
the coals in a circle, the natural conductivity of the
oven will distribute the heat evenly and effectively.
The coals on the lid of the oven should also be placed
evenly in a circle along the flange of the outer lid.
However, four of the coals should be placed toward the
center of the lid, two on either side of the handle. This
coal placement will produce an even, consistent temperature
within the oven of approximately 350° and maintain
that heat for up to two hours.
In the event that
you need to generate a higher temperature inside your
oven additional coals placed two at a time, one on the
lid and one under the oven, will add another 50°.
Two additional coals top and bottom would bring your oven's
temperature up to 450°. It is extremely rare to need
a temperature of 450°, and you should never need one
higher than that.
in a Dutch oven are delectable. They have a flavor and
aroma you will never duplicate using any other cooking
method. While the taste is always exquisite, some Dutch
oven users have difficulty producing a visually appealing
meat from inside the steamy oven. The secret is simple:
regardless of the spice and flavorings you use on any
meat or poultry, always brown the meat first.
To brown the meat,
place some oil, bacon, or any fatty item in the hot oven
to produce a good covering of oil on the bottom, heat
the oven, then put the meat you want to cook in the oven
and sear or brown it well. This will seal in natural juices
and provide the outer texture and color more typical of
grilled or fried meats. Once the meat is well browned
on all sides, drain off any leftover fat drippings, add
whatever seasonings you like, put on the lid, and cook
the meat for 30 to 35 minutes per pound of beef, pork,
or lamb, or 25 to 30 minutes per pound of poultry.
Garden vegetables are a magnificent addition
to any Dutch oven dinner. Most Dutch oven vegetables are
prepared in a sauce of some type, but they may be steamed
or boiled as you would on a traditional stove. However,
if you choose to bake or roast Dutch oven vegetables,
they should cook for approximately three minutes per inch
of oven diameter. A l0-inch oven full of squash should
cook for about 30 minutes, a 12-inch oven full for 36
minutes. Vegetables to be cooked in sauces, such as sour
cream potatoes, broccoli in cheese sauce, or new peas
and potatoes in white sauce, should be brought to a rapid
boil first, the water discarded, the sauces added, then
baked for the proper time noted for other vegetables.
oven breads seem to be a rarity. However, marvelous corn
breads, scones, rolls, and sourdough loaves are surprisingly
easy to perfect in the old black pot. The larger the oven
the better when it comes to cooking breads. A 14-inch
oven serves nicely to produce three loaves of bread or
up to three dozen rolls or biscuits. To successfully brown
breads, however, you must alter the cooking process for
the last five to eight minutes of the traditional 25-30
minute, 350° baking time.
First, put a light
coat of oil on the interior of a cool oven (including
the lid), and let the rolls or bread complete their final
rise in the oven prior to applying the coals. Second,
place the oven on the coals with the proper number of
coals on top as noted earlier. (Remember: no coals directly
under the center of the oven.) Third, when there are five
to eight minutes left in the cooking time, lift the lid,
lightly brush the tops of the breads with butter, replace
the lid, then take all the coals from under the oven and
distribute them evenly on the top. With all the heat now
on the lid, check the bread every couple of minutes until
you think it looks perfect. After brushing the coals and
ashes from the lid, remove it, tilt the oven over a bread
board, and your perfect bread will gently fall out.
Using the correct number
of coals under the oven, brown both sides of enough clean,
uncoated chicken pieces to cover the bottom in a hot Dutch
oven with a bubbling ¼ inch of oil. When the chicken
is browned to your liking, remove the excess oil from
the oven and discard. Season the chicken generously with
the following pre-mixed coating:
2 Tablespoons each, parsley flakes & thyme
1 Tablespoon each, marjoram, oregano, celery salt, &
1 teaspoon each, garlic salt, onion salt, ginger, ground
black pepper, sage, & paprika
Put lid on oven,
arrange coals as noted earlier (top and bottom) and cook
for 45 minutes to one hour.
Coat and marinate zucchini
or summer squash (one per person) for 30 minutes in a
mixture of ½ olive oil and ½ lemon juice
(A half cup of each will coat enough zucchini for 20 people.)
Place one layer of the marinated vegetables in the bottom
of the Dutch oven. (A 10-inch oven works great for up
to 15 people.) Sprinkle salt, pepper, and a good coating
of grated Romano cheese over the layer, then repeat the
process, layer upon layer, until all the zucchini is used
or until the oven is almost full. Sprinkle extra Romano
cheese on the top layer. Place the lid on the oven and
cook as noted earlier with the proper number and placement
of coals. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes. This is a marvelous
tart and tasty vegetable treat, guaranteed.
½ pound bacon, sliced
in small pieces
½ pound mince
½ diced onion1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
Two 33-oz. cans of pork and beans
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons of white vinegar
Cook bacon and ground
beef well in a 12-inch Dutch oven. Use 24 coals all on
the bottom to start, then separate and place the coals
as noted earlier during the baking stage. Before removing
excess oil, sauté diced onion, diced red bell pepper,
and diced green bell pepper with the meats until the onions
and peppers are soft. Drain off excess oil. Add pork and
beans, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and white vinegar.
Stir well, place lid on oven, and cook with repositioned
coals for 90 to 120 minutes.
Check for moisture
content every 15 to 20 minutes. (Some ovens allow too
much moisture to escape.) If there is not a soupy layer
of liquid covering the beans, add water, a little at a
time, and stir to maintain the moisture content.
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