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
Here is a tasty chicken recipe that provides a way to use some of your freshly harvested autumn vegetables. Tasty and filling, this gluten free recipe is one you will want to share!
2½ – 3 lbs boneless chicken pieces
6 pieces bacon chopped into small pieces
1-2 Tbs. Olive oil
1 large onion
6 carrots sliced diagonally in 1 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
½ pound fingerling potatoes cut in half
8 oz. jar packed in water artichoke hearts, drained
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms, whole
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1½ cup chicken stock
12 ounces gluten free beer
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
Using a 10 inch Dutch oven, cook the bacon until browned. Remove the bacon from the Dutch oven and place it onto a paper towel to drain. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your Dutch oven, add the chicken and cook it on both sides for about 2 ½ minutes on each side. You may need to add more olive oil as cooking progresses. Remove the chicken to a plate and set it aside. Add the onions to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes. You may need to add more olive oil. Next, add the carrots, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, celery, artichokes and mushrooms and cook for about 4 more minutes. Add the beer and deglaze the Dutch oven, making sure to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the oven. Add the chicken stock and spices and stir well. Return the chicken to the Dutch oven and spoon vegetable mixture over it. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour.
Serve over rice or quinoa and garnish with bacon bits. To prepare Autumn Chicken as a gluten free recipe, be sure to use gluten free chicken stock.
Serves 6 to 8