What is a Dutch Oven?
There are basically two different kinds of Dutch oven’s, there is the Camp Oven which is usually flat across the bottom with three legs and the lid has a very slight crown, and a flange on the outside to hold the charcoal or ash in place on the lid. On the inside it is smooth. There is another type made for a an oven that has no legs and no flange and a very domed lid with points on the inside. For camp cooking you will want to have a camp oven, although if you already have kitchen oven and would like to use it you can with some creativity. Camp ovens are made from two types of materials, cast Iron and cast aluminum. I have used both and prefer the cast iron most of the time.
What is Dutch Oven Cooking?
Dutch oven cooking is simply cooking in a Dutch oven directly over a fire or using charcoal or hot coals. The food that can be prepared is endless you can roast meats, create stews and soups, bake items such as breads, cobblers, cakes, cookies, roasts, pies, lasagna, etc. Basically anything that you bake, broil, braise, fry at home you can make in a Dutch oven. You can make such things as cookies, cakes, bread, lasagna, roasts, soups stews, cheese cakes, cobblers, pies and so much more.
Getting Started With Dutch Oven Cooking
The Dutch Oven.
Buy a Dutch oven that has legs and a flange on the lid. Check the fit of the lid it should fit securely and not have a lot of play. It should have a good bail handle that stays out of the way when you are removing the lid. If you have to fight the handle to remove the lid while it is covered with ash you will be very frustrated. Purchase cast iron.
For your first dutch oven an 8 quart is a good size. You can find brands that are more inexpensive but Lodge makes some of the best quality. I have purchased some cheaper ones and they are ok but not as well made as my Lodge’s. You buy it once and have it for life.
Other Equipment. (That you may find helpful):
You will need all the usual utensils required for cooking, such as spoons, forks, spatulas, etc. However, when you pick utensils to use with your Dutch ovens, choose items made of wood, plastic, or Teflon. Metal utensils tend to scrape off the curing when hungry eaters try to dig the last bite of food out of the oven. If areas do get scraped to the bare metal of the oven, you’ll need to re-cure it.
this is helpful in getting your charcoal started and it is also a way of starting your charcoal without using lighter fluid. There are commercially made chimneys that can be purchased for $10.00 to $15.00.
You will need a pair of loose-fitting leather gloves long enough to cover your wrists.
If your gloves get hot when working with your dutch oven, loose ones can be flipped off easily and quickly. Tight hot gloves will stick and burn you. Some people prefer welding gloves, but any good thick leather gloves should do fine. Wear these gloves when working with your ovens. They will prevent numerous painful burns, dropped ovens, and ruined meals.
Another tool you will need is a lid lifter.
There are a number of lid lifter designs to choose from. I prefer a longer one so that you can keep the hot lid or pot away from your body also it makes the boys feel more comfortable around the heat. You can also make a lid lifter if you are handy but I would recommend that you stay away from the pliers type of lifters because they get you too close the heat and do not allow ease of movement.
Long-handled tongs are an invaluable addition to your Dutch oven tools.
Even a cheap stainless steel pair will last indefinitely. Tongs can be used to place, add, or remove coals as necessary. Attempting to position coals with sticks, pliers, etc., often results in poor placement, burned hands, and generally miserable experiences.
A small shovel can be helpful
This small tool, a garden shovel or fireplace shovel, is used for moving coals from a fire, digging a long-cook pit, or burying excess extinguished charcoal.