Dutch oven cooking is best thought of as a miniature version of the oven in your family kitchen. The two most obvious differences are the size of the oven and the heat source. Camp Dutch ovens come in various sizes, but they all have lids to hold charcoal.
Frequently the dutch oven is used solely to bake the camp dessert, usually a variation of cobbler or upside down cake. However, a whole new world of camp food opens up after the camp cook learns how versatile the dutch oven and other cast iron products can be.
In the attached PDF files you will find a variety of recipes for camp cooking. Some are dutch oven, some are for the portable stovetop. All are delicious and have been taste tested at various campouts with Troop 62
Dutch oven tips:
- For general purpose baking, each coal briquet on the lid is approximately:
- 25 degrees for a 10"
- 20 degrees for a 12"
- 16 degrees for a 14"
- You can bake, broil, roast, simmer, and braise in your dutch. The desired technique will determine the coal placement.
One rule of thumb for baking is that 350 degrees F is about the equivalent of 17 coals on top of a 12" dutch, 8 beneath.
The Rule of 3. For general purpose cooking at 300-350 F, the number of coals on top = lid diameter + 3, and the number of coals under = diameter - 3. So, a 12" Dutch has 15 on top and 9 below.
Double the Diameter Rule. The total number of coals to use to maintain about 350 F is approximately double the diameter of the Dutch oven (inches). This rule means you use 24 briquettes for a 12" Dutch. If you are baking then 15 go on top and 9 below. For a 10" Dutch you use 20 coals, 13-14 on top and 7 below.
The coals will provide heat for up to an hour, but they will need replaced as they burn out. As the coals begin to show gaps and turn to total ash, you will need to be adding more coals to maintain your heat.
Weather and altitude will play a big factor in your use of the coals. Rain, cold weather and wind will dampen the heating from your coals.
Cleaning a cast iron dutch oven is as simple as scrubbing with warm water and a scouring pad. Usually it helps to heat the water in the oven first, just to a simmer. Keeping the lid on will moisten everything inside the oven, which makes it easier to scrub away food debris. Do not use soap in cast iron! The soap will get into the pores and may taint your next meal.
Not all dutch ovens are cast iron. Aluminum ovens are much lighter and are cleaned using the same soapy water as your typical pots and pans.
After cleaning a cast iron dutch oven, it's important to apply a thin film of vegetable oil or food-grade mineral oil inside the oven. This maintains the seasoning; it keeps the iron from rusting and helps the oven maintain a non-stick coating. Before applying the film of oil, thoroughly dry the oven and heat it just until it is hot to touch. Carefully apply the oil (don't burn yourself!) and let it cool.
- Roasting: place equal amounts of coal above and below the oven.
- Baking: more coals on top, usually 1/3 below and 2/3 above the oven.
- Frying, boiling: all coals are under the oven.
- Simmering: most coals are under the oven, put about 1/4 on the lid of the oven
There are a multitude of Dutch oven web sites. Here are a few worth checking:
- Dutch Oven Dude - http://www.dutchovendude.com/campfire-cooking.shtml
- Northwest Dutch Oven Society - http://www.nwdos.org/index.html
- Byron's Dutch Oven Cooking - http://papadutch.home.comcast.net
- Scouting the Net - http://www.scoutingthenet.com/Cooking/
- Dutch Oven Cooking - http://www.cowboyshowcase.com/dutch_oven_cooking.htm
- Christine and Tim Conners, authors of the excellent Scout's Outdoor Cookbook - http://booksbyconners.com