Tickle The Taste Buds With A Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are a great way to bring the taste of home cooking to the outdoors. To better understand Dutch ovens, I turned to fellow Outdoor Adventure USA member Bruce Crabtree. Bruce has been cooking with Dutch ovens for over 15 years. He recently joined us during a ham radio program to share his thoughts. To hear the entire program, click on this link:
A Dutch oven is actually a cooking pot that's designed to be heated by charcoal or a campfire. They are made of cast iron because iron offers a uniform distribution of heat. Dutch ovens are most often used for baking goods, but are also used to cook with. People make soups, casseroles, and other dishes with a Dutch oven.
Dutch ovens can be purchased at most outdoor stores such as Cabela's, Sports Chalet and Bass Pro. Wall Mart has a limited selection. Stick with high quality Lodge or Camp Chef brands.
The ovens come in a variety of sizes, with the most common being 10" and 12" wide. A 12" pot holds six quarts of food and will serve four to six people. For two to four people, a 10" pot should be sufficient. Be sure you purchase a "camp" oven with 3 little legs and a lip on the lid to hold hot coals.
New ovens have a waxy coating to prevent rusting. Wash in soap and water to remove the coating. The next step is to "season" your pot. Use a paper towel to apply a light coat of vegetable oil (many people use Crisco brand) to all surfaces of the pot and lid inside and out. Do not use lard or other animal fat. It will turn rancid over time.
Place the covered pot in your gas grille, close the lid, and heat to 425 degrees, baking for one and one-half to two hours. This process causes a lot of smoke, so don't be alarmed. Season several times to give your oven a nice, non-stick surface.
Now you're ready to cook. Since most folks use charcoal we'll focus on that. To determine how much charcoal to use, remember the "plus 3/minus 3" rule. Add three coals to the size of your pot for the lid. Subtract three to get the number of coals needed underneath. So, for a 12" pot, you'd use 15 briquettes on the lid and nine underneath.
Form a ring of charcoal under the pot; do not have any coals directly underneath or you'll develop a hot spot. That's not important for the lid. Coals can be placed evenly across the top. This arrangement will create an internal temperature of about 350 degrees. Add charcoal if you need a higher temperature. Each additional briquette increases the internal temperature by about 25 degrees.
Most dishes and baked goods cook in 45 minutes to an hour. Rotate the oven every 15 minutes to ensure even heating, and be careful when serving your meal. The oven is heavy and very hot.
Some Do's and Don'ts to consider:
- Do clean out the pot after every meal. Condensation will form on any leftover food, which will cause the pot to rust. A paper towel is usually all you'll need to remove food scraps.
- Don't store without drying. Wipe it thoroughly with a towel or heat the oven over a stove.
- Don't clean with soap. The porous surface of the oven will capture some of the soap, resulting in an after taste. If the oven has been cleaned with soap, rinse it thoroughly with hot water.
- Don't use steel wool or abrasive cleaners. These will scratch off the seasoning and make the oven susceptible to rusting. However, you can use steel wool to remove rust spots.
Dutch ovens are a great way to bring authentic cooking to the outdoors. With a little practice you can become a hit with your friends during your next off-road adventure.
I am attending the SEMA show in Vegas on November 4th. Let me know what stuff you are interested in having me look for. I can't promise anything but it might happen if I know in advance!
There are 3 more clinics that will pretty much wrap up the year.
The last Sand Clinic is at Pismo on November 22nd. Sign up now. http://www.4x4training.com/TrainingClinics/sandclass.html
Sand is way different then dirt and rocks. Come and learn what we have taught those who rescue people on the sand with life threatening injures.
The Winch Clinic is Friday December 5th. We always hold them on a weekday to lessen the risk of someone running over our lines and hurting themselves. http://www.4x4training.com/TrainingClinics/Winch.html
This clinic will take you from basics to advanced. Most winch owners seldom use their winch and do not have the experience necessary to use it within safety limits. This clinic will give you all you need to be safe and to extract yourself from an extreme stuck!
The Rocks Clinic is December 22nd. It will be held at Calico Mountains near Barstow. This is the course and route highlighted in the September 2008 issue of Perterson's 4 Wheel magazine – "Practice Makes Perfect" by Kevin McNulty. Sign up at http://www.4x4training.com/TrainingClinics/Rock.html
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Make it Safe.