Here are some tips for Dutch Oven cooking

By Doug Williams
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Here are some tips for Dutch Oven cooking

Doug Williams
 
Dutch Oven Cooking - Author: Outdoor Alabama - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Dutch Oven Cooking - Author: Outdoor Alabama - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
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Dutch ovens are often used on a camping trip or in a situation where the cooking needs to be done outside instead of in a traditional kitchen. Not only is it an efficient and tasty way to cook, but it can be fun to use a traditional cast iron Dutch oven over a bed of hot coals. The flavor created from cooking this way is truly unparalleled for many people.

Dutch ovens have been around for a long time and are incredibly versatile, and while most people now tend to do their cooking in a modern kitchen using a modern stove and oven, that does not mean that there is no use for Dutch ovens anymore. Many people who love camping still use Dutch ovens regularly.

Those who have never used a Dutch oven before may find it difficult to understand how to do so properly. There tends to be a little bit of a learning curve, especially concerning the timing of cooking as well as the temperature to get just the right results.

Dutch Oven cooking – there is a skill to it
Dutch Oven cooking – there is a skill to it

For camping, outdoor cooking at home, or a unique way to cook in the kitchen, there are a few things to purchase in addition to the actual oven. First, consider if you might have to buy more than one oven for your needs. Dutch ovens work perfectly well over the fire or next to them, but to be able to easily control cooking temperatures over a period of time charcoal briquettes are great.

For ease and safety, purchase something to lean the lid on when you are not using it on top of the Dutch oven. At a push, a few tent pegs can be hammered into the ground for this. A lid lifter is also something that you may want to have on hand. Heat resistant gloves are handy for protecting your hands while cooking over charcoal.

Dutch Oven food – so worth it at the end of a days hike
Dutch Oven food – so worth it at the end of a days hike

With cast iron cookware such as a Dutch Oven, there needs to be some time put aside to allow the oven to season before using it. This is something that is important because a Dutch oven that is seasoned well will make better food and be easier to clean. Seasoning is the process of rubbing oil or vegetable shortening on the Dutch oven’s interior and then baking the empty Dutch oven in a conventional oven for a few hours. The Dutch oven will have a black coating on its surface that protects it by preventing foods from sticking. With use, the Dutch oven will become more and more seasoned and will soon be virtually nonstick and simple to clean

Since most conventional Dutch ovens are made from cast iron they tend to have heavy lids which keep in heat really well. The heavy lids and the cast iron nature of Dutch ovens enable the food inside to stay warm even after being removed from the heat source. They are great for recipes that focus on slow cooking, which brings out the flavor of foods.

Dutch Oven  – Author: Outdoor Alabama – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Dutch Oven  – Author: Outdoor Alabama – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The general cooking temperature for a Dutch oven is about 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat comes from coals that are placed below the Dutch oven as well as on top of its lid. With a chimney starter, the coals get started quickly and will heat up evenly. The charcoal needs to be ready about twenty to thirty minutes before starting to cook the meal.

Dutch ovens can go almost anywhere and can cook just about anything, so they are amazingly versatile for those who are camping or who do not have access to modern kitchen appliances. Meals you might want to consider cooking in a Dutch oven are stews, lasagne, cakes, bread and roasts, to name a few, the limit really is your imagination.

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