Cooking outdoors in a Dutch oven is a great experience. You can cook in the wilds or in the backyard. This dutch oven camping recipes are ideal for both choices.
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What to Cook in a Dutch Oven – Camping Recipes
What to cook in a Dutch oven? How to cook in a Dutch oven and enjoy many good meals? I promise you will really enjoy this way of cooking. Every dish tastes better if cooked outdoors in a Dutch oven. A Dutch oven really is very versatile and useful. Anything that can be fried, boiled or baked, can be cooked in a Dutch oven.
Dutch ovens are made of cast iron. Because they are so heavy, they heat evenly with little heat. The heavy lid, when it is set on properly, acts as a pressure cooker.
In pioneer days the Dutch oven was a mainstay for the people as they came across the plains. So many different foods could be cooked in these versatile kettles that they were really a prized possession.
Dutch Oven Cooking Over Open Fire
For Dutch oven cooking over an open fire, you need to build places for fire.
It is two kinds of cooking fires for camping with a Dutch oven. Both are equally good for Dutch oven cooking, but which you use will depend on where you are.
WOOD FIRE – for use when camping
It’s important when you use a wood fire to have two separate fires. One is for the Dutch oven to cook on, the other is to produce new coals.
The fire for the coals has to be replenished with wood continually. The wood will burn down to coals, which in turn are removed with a shovel and placed on the Dutch oven fire as needed.
- Place rocks around an area where you plan to make your large coal fire.
- Dig a shallow pit into which the coals will be allowed to fall. This makes it easier to shovel them out to use.
- Start this fire about 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking.
- Don’t use large logs. Your fire needs to burn down to coals quickly and large logs take too long.
- When your fire burns down to where you have nice hot coals, you are ready to start your cooking. Remove what you need with a shovel.
- Keep replenishing the fire so you will have coals throughout your cooking time. These coals do not burn as long as briquets so you must keep replacing them on your cooking fire throughout the cooking time.
- It takes a lot of wood to keep a Dutch oven going for any length of time, so unless you have a good supply of wood and are in an area where fires are allowed, we do not suggest you use this method.
CHARCOAL BRIQUETS — for backyard cooking and fire hazard area
I always use briquets when available because they are almost smokeless, more convenient, and the heat from them can be controlled better than with wood coals.
Don’t ever use them indoors as they give off a toxic gas.
- As with the wood fire, you should have two fires going. One should be kept going so you can replenish the cooking fire. About 30 to 45 minutes before you are ready to cook, start your briquets.
- Use as hard a surface as possible, because soft ground or sand will smother them.
- Stack your unlit briquets in a mound. Pour lighter fluid or charcoal fire starter fluid, not gas, over them. If you think they are going out, fan them. This will usually bring life back to them. If fanning them doesn’t help, pour more lighter fluid on and light again.
- When the briquets are red hot, they are usually an ashy grey and flare red when fanned. If you are still in doubt, hold your hand a few inches over the briquets. If they are burning, you’ll know by the heat they are giving out.
- As you take away the briquets for use, pile additional unlighted ones on one side of the pile. These will light from the starter pile and you will always have briquets burning as you need them.
- If cooking for a large group, you’ll need a lot of briquets so make a large pile. But only pour the lighter fluid over what you need to start cooking with. The other hot ones will start the briquets close by. You can remove them as needed. Keep adding more briquets to the pile.
- It takes 16 to 18 briquets for the bottom of a 14″ oven to keep it cooking well for frying or roasting. An additional 12 or so are needed on top.
- After they are burning well, put them in a checkerboard pattern, flat side up, to get the most heat from them. Don’t put them on edge — that provides a much smaller area of heat.
- When fixing a fire for baking of cobblers, upside down cake, cake, cookies, pie, etc., most of the heat must be on top so you will use a checkerboard pattern on the bottom of only 6 or 8 briquets and 18 to 24 on top in a circular pattern. The circle pattern is a good one for baking because sometimes a section of the item you’re baking won’t be cooking evenly so you can push briquets to where they’re needed or remove some.
- Use the long-handled tongs and shovel to add the briquets or remove them.