What is a Dutch oven?
The answer to this question is really quite simple. A Dutch oven is a cooking vessel that allows one to cook really great food. Dutch ovens come in several forms and sizes. Ovens for indoor use have flat bottoms and use a domed lid. For outdoor cooking, camp ovens are used. These ovens are characterized by their legs and rimmed lid. Indoors or in camp, Dutch ovens can be used to prepare some really outstanding meals!
Welcome to Dutch Oven Net, the right place on the web for everything Dutch oven. This site is brought to you as an online resource for learning and teaching the art of cooking great food in the great outdoors or at home. Whether your outdoor or camp cooking involves Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, family or friends, there is no better way to improve your overall camping experience then to incorporate Dutch oven cooking into your camp cooking plans.
Why Learn Dutch Oven Cooking?
An unfortunate byproduct of today's busy lifestyle is that many people have moved away from traditional cooking in favor of fast, pre-prepared heat and serve meals - or worse, a steady diet of fast food. As a result, fewer and fewer youth are learning how to cook. Dutch Oven Net is here to help combat this trend by promoting Dutch oven cooking as a healthy, fun alternative and a great way to get our youth interested in cooking and eating well.
The cooking methods and Dutch oven recipes you will find on Dutch Oven Net are designed to be healthy and wholesome with a focus upon from scratch cooking. Cooking meals from scratch doesn't mean difficult. Aspiring chefs as young as 11 or 12 have been known to come up with some really great Dutch oven meals. It takes a bit of planning, time and effort but the reward of good food and satisfied diners is more then well worth it.
Feel free to bookmark this site and refer back often for Dutch oven recipes and to pick up outdoor cooking ideas, techniques, tips and tricks. Of course, all of the techniques and recipes that we discuss can be used for indoor Dutch oven cooking at home too!
Dutch Oven Cooking Techniques
There are a lot of ways in which you can use Dutch ovens. Here are a few cooking techniques that show just how versatile Dutch ovens can be. Get creative, use your imagination and I bet you can come up with some cool ways to use your Dutch ovens too.
Stacking Dutch Ovens
One way to conserve charcoal and impress your guests is to stack your ovens when cooking Dutch oven meals at camp or in the outdoors. A multi-course dinner can be prepared in one stack of ovens which can reduce the amount of charcoal that you need by 10% - 20%! A Dutch oven table that is wide enough for three 12" or 14" ovens can easily hold 6 or 9 ovens.
You may be wondering how stacking your Dutch ovens can reduce your charcoal consumption? Assume we are stacking three 12" camp ovens and are targeting a roasting temperature of 350 degrees. Doubling up the diameter of the Dutch oven tells us that we need 24 coals, 12 on top and 12 underneath each oven. Heating ovens separately would require 6 layers of 12 coals. Stacking our ovens three high would require only five layers, saving 12 charcoal briquettes. Further, since heat rises one may not need as many coals on the upper levels of the stack.
The lid of your Dutch oven can make a great griddle. Place a couple of bricks or flat stones about 10" apart. Place your charcoal between the bricks and then put a 12" dutch oven lid handle side down over the coals. You now have a griddle that is great for frying eggs, cooking bacon, heating tortillas, making crepes or any thing else you can think of to cook on a griddle.
Paninis make a great lunch and can easily be cooked using Dutch oven lids. Prepare a lid as if using it as a griddle. Place a couple of bricks on a second lid and cover it with coals. Place your panini on the lower lid and cover it with the second weighted lid. After a few minutes your panini is heated through and the bread is nice and crunchy. You can also prepare four grilled cheese sandwiches at the same time using this technique (without the bricks on the lid) while tomato soup is being heated in the bottom of your Dutch oven.
Who doesn't like pizza? A few years ago I showed a patrol of Boy Scouts how to use their Dutch oven as a pizza oven. Its simple, just prepare the lid of your oven as if using it as a griddle. Place your pizza on the lid then cover it with the upside-down Dutch oven. Cover the bottom of your Dutch oven with coals and you now have a pizza oven. Its easy and it works!
Dutch oven cooking can be a lot of fun and a great activity to bring people together. Take the time to experiment with your ovens and try different recipes, techniques and ingredients. Visit us regularly to see the results of our most recent experiments, the outcomes of which become DutchOvenNet.com's recipe of the week.
Dutch Oven Recipe of the Week
Beef and Vegetable Bake
Here is a one pot meal that is easy to prepare. Tasty and filling, this gluten free recipe provides a hearty dose of beef and rice along with a good mix of vegetables.
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup long grain rice (not instant)
2 Tbsp. butter
3½ cups beef broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded carrot
1½ cups broccoli florets
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper to taste
In a 10 inch Dutch oven, cook ground beef until the meat is browned. Remove beef from Dutch oven and set it aside in bowl. Remove any left over grease and bits from the Dutch oven.
Melt the butter in your Dutch oven then add in the rice and cook until it is slightly browned. Make sure to stir frequently so as not to burn the rice. Next, add in the garlic, carrots, broccoli, celery, onion, salt, pepper, cayenne, parsley and basil and stir fry for 3 minutes. Stir in the ground beef and broth, then cover and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes (or until rice is cooked.) If cooking outdoors, use 20 charcoal briquettes with 10 under and 10 on top of your Dutch oven. You may need more coals in cold or windy conditions.
Mix in cheddar cheese for the last 5 minutes of baking. You can also sprinkle with cheddar cheese upon serving. Be sure to use a quality, low fat content ground beef as it makes cooking a lot less messy and is better for you.
Serves 6 to 8