Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dutch Oven Cooking

A few months ago I had the privilege of attending a training seminar called Wood Badge. It is leadership training sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America. Part of my training required me to set some specific goals that need to be met within the next 18 months. These goals are focused at improving you as as an individual and the groups that your are involved with. One of my goals was to learn how to cook in a dutch oven, so I have been experimenting with different recipes and methods. I have decide to share a small bit if this adventure with you.

First, what is a dutch oven? Well it as a cast iron pot designed to be cook with over many different types of heat sources. It can be used over open flame, in an oven, over charcoal, or any other imaginable source of heat. They can be fairly small or extremely large. For my experimentation, I am using a 12" diameter pot that is made in the deep style. My favorite heat source is charcoal. It may not be the fastest method of cooking, but I love the touch of smokey flavor that gets added to the food.

There is small fire pit in my back yard that is just the perfect size for my dutch oven. It is the perfect size, because I dug it that way. Here you can see the charcoal being prepared. It is important to make sure that the charcoal is well lit and burning or you can experience temperature control problem once you start cooking.

This particular meal is chicken and rice. I first sauteed some onions then placed all the chicken (spiced according to desire) in the bottom of the oven, I then pour uncooked rice over the chicken. Following the rice is some cream of mushroom soup mixed with some milk, water, mushrooms, and a little garlic powder, this liquid mixture is poured over the rice and the whole thing is then placed in the charcoal pit.

Notice how I placed some of the charcoal on top of the dutch oven as well. This is to help the oven heat evenly. Even heating is a key element in successful dutch oven cooking. Nothing is worse than food that is overcooked on the bottom and raw on top. The temperature can be controlled by the number of charcoals used. If you want more heat on bottom, then put more charcoal underneath. Each charcoal briquette will produce approximately 10 - 20 degrees. SO if you want to cook something at around 325 degrees, then you will need approximately 20 - 25 coals. These temperature will go up or down according to the size of your oven. A larger oven will need more coals and a smaller one less.

After everything is settled into the fire pit, it just matter of waiting until everything is cooked. In this case it takes about 30 -45 minutes for the rice to finish cooking. Try not to disturb the oven to often. Every time you lift the lid, the oven will lose some of its heat. One thing to remember, is that a cast iron pot will stay hot for a long time and whatever is in it, will continue to cook for awhile even after being removed from the heat, so remember to plan for this and avoid over cooking some things.

Now it is time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Amy said...

I LOVE dutch oven cooking! I have only had the privilege of eating a few times and I really liked it! The dessert recipes are my favorite! Maybe when we come up we can try it on the mountain!
P.S. Glad to see you blogging again!

Joan said...

A post, a post!! Yea, it's about time. I have only had dutch oven dinners a couple of times and I wasn't impressed but that could have been the cook's fault. I keep seeing recipes for onion and potatoes that sounds really good.
That I would like to try. By the way I like your hair.