Troop 68, BSA
Troop 68, BSA

Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch Ovens were developed in England and Holland in the eighteenth century. The basic design has remained unchanged for centuries, but the name has had many variations.

 

The origin of Dutch Ovens has been argued for some time. Certain individuals feel that it came from the German/Dutch peddlers who sold them, while others credit the Pilgrims with bringing the pots to this country and naming them as a tribute to their former home in Holland. Some feel it is due to a Dutch casting technique patented in England in 1708. Dutch ovens have been around for hundreds of years. Early pioneers carried them on their wagons when they explored and settled our great nation. Today they're a favorite cookware of campers and Scouts. Try using one and you'll soon see why!

 

A Dutch oven is a must for delicious campout feasts. Just about anything you cook in a regular oven - pies, bread, stew - can be whipped up in a Dutch oven. Cooking techniques such as roasting, baking, simmering, stewing, frying, boiling, steaming, and many others are easily done on the campfire with only a single utensil, the Dutch oven.

 

The properties of a cast iron Dutch oven which professional chefs appreciate are; 1) very good heat retention and 2) even heat distribution. These enable the chef to maintain precise control of the heat of the pan and guarantee even cooking with no "hot spots", which are common occurrences with other metals such as aluminum pots and pans.

 

This cast-iron pot can cook on hot charcoal briquettes, on a campfire, on a camping stove designed for Dutch ovens, or by using propane gas.

 

When using charcoal, place three times as many coals on the lid as underneath the oven. (The flat lid will hold the coals in place.)

 

For easy clean-up, line the interior of the Dutch oven with aluminum foil.

 

Always use a wooden spoon to stir, and always cook with the lid on. Unless you like ashes in your food, don't tilt the lid when you remove it.

 

When you do remove the lid or handle any part of the hot oven, use a pair of cooking gloves (or thick leather work gloves), a lid lifter or hot-pot tongs.

 

Seasoning A Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The only way to successfully cook in a Dutch oven is to properly season it. When you buy a new Dutch oven it is usually coated with a waxy material to protect it. To obtain the desirable non-stick properties of a well used pot takes a little time and effort.

 

  • Warm the Dutch oven and peel off any labels
  • Wash it with mild soapy water, rinse, and dry completely.
  • Grease inside and out (pot, legs, and lid) lightly with a good grade of olive or vegetable oil. Solid Shortening can also be used. Do not use lard or other animal products as they will spoil and turn rancid! Do not use a spray on coating, but rather use an oil soaked paper towel or a new sponge to apply the oil coating.
  • Place the Dutch oven upside down on oven rack with lid separate and put aluminum foil underneath to catch any excess oil. Bake in a 300-350 degree oven for at least 1 hour. It will probably smoke and stink up the house! You can use a gas grill outdoors to season it and to keep the smell and smoke out of your house.
  • Let it cool.
  • Store in a dry place.
  • It will take more than this initial seasoning for the pot to obtain the desired uniform black patina (like a satin black bowling ball) that provides the non-stick qualities and protects the pot from rust.
  • If your Dutch oven rusts or has a metallic taste this is a sign your seasoning has been removed. Repeat seasoning steps. This can also be required after storage or if it smells rancid.
  • For serious cases of abuse, steel wool or "Brillo" may be required to get ovens ready to season again.

 

Care Of A Cast Iron Dutch Oven

  • Avoid at first, acidic foods & water, which removes "seasoning" or you have to re-season.
  • After cooking remove lid. Do not use as food storage vessel.
  • Do not use strong detergents or a hard wire brush unless you plan to completely re-season the oven.
  • After scraping out all uneaten food, clean with paper towels.
  • Re-heat to remove food if necessary.
  • Never scour or put it in a dishwasher.
  • Never, and I repeat, NEVER allow cast iron to sit in water or allow water to stand in or on it. It will rust despite a good coating.
  • Never use soap on cast iron. The soap will get into the pores of the metal and won't come out very easy, but will return to taint your next meal, though. If soap is used accidentally, the oven should be put through the seasoning procedure, including removal of the present coating.
  • Do not place an empty cast iron pan or oven over a hot fire. Cast iron will crack or warp, ruining it.
  • Do not get in a hurry to heat cast iron, you will end up with burnt food or a damaged oven or pan.
  • Dry oven completely, then lightly oil the entire surface of oven.
  • Store with lid off in warm dry place or place a paper towel inside and leave lid ajar.
  • The seasoning on your pot will improve with each use if it is properly oiled and cared for.
  • Transport your ovens with care and don't drop or let them bounce around and become damaged.
  • Bags, burlap cloth, the cardboard box they came in, or lidded wooden boxes can be used to protect your ovens.
  • NEVER pour very cold liquid into an empty hot pot or you may cause permanent damage to the oven (cracking).
  • Do not drop on hard surface, as they will crack.

 

Temperature Control Using Briquettes

Here is a list of the average quantity of charcoal briquettes to use for an average temperature of 350 degrees in a Dutch oven:
 

Oven Size (Inches) Briquettes On Top Briquettes Under
8 8 5 - 6
10 13 7
12 15 9
14 17 11
16 19 13

 

As you can see, take the size of your oven, for example a 12 inch, add three more briquettes to the top (15), and subtract three from the bottom (9). This will of course vary from food to food, wind conditions, and outside air temperature, but it is a good place to start, and you will eventually get a feel for temperature requirements with a little practice.

 

The placement of coals is also important. Proper layout under the oven is circular. The coals on the lid should be placed evenly in a circle in the flange of the outer lid. However, four of the coals should be placed toward the center of the lid.

 

Each additional charcoal briquette will increase the temperature by approximately 25 degrees. So an additional two coals (one on the top of the lid and one under the bottom of the pot) will increase the temperature by another 50 degrees.

 

Dutch Oven Web Sites