Last time we talked about the importance and flexibility of a Dutch Oven. Now that you have purchased your Dutch oven what else should you know? A few things remain.

How do you control the heat?

Chart

  • Adding one briquette on top and one on bottom will raise the temperature of the Dutch Oven approximately 25 degrees. Removing one briquette from top and one from bottom will lower the temperature by 25 degrees.
  • When baking breads and cakes use two fewer briquettes on the bottom of the Dutch oven to help prevent burning.
  • When cooking coals should be placed in a circle just smaller than the outer edge of the oven. The oven is then placed on top of the coals.
  • The briquettes on the lids should be evenly spaced over the lid.
  • When cooking remember the higher the elevation the longer it will take for your food to cook. You will need to be patient and plan ahead.

If it is windy your charcoal will increase in temperature as the wind passes over the coals. You will need to gauge your cooking times differently and check both food and coals more often. You may want to place a foil tent over the coals to prevent the wind from increasing the temperature. If the coals are not protected it is important to note that they will need to be replaced more frequently as they will burn more quickly.

When you are attempting to cook in the rain or snow you will want to tent the lid after placing the coals. In more extreme conditions you will also want to place foil under your bottom coals, place the Dutch oven on top and them pull the foil up the sides of the oven to help prevent the rain or snow from extinguishing the charcoal.

There may be a time when you are out of charcoal and need to make your own. Charcoal burns hotter and is easier to control when cooking than wood but it may not always be available when we need it. If not, you can make your own. This is not complicated but will require a few items which you may want to plan for ahead of time.

Making Charcoal

You will need:

  1. A 55 gallon metal drum with lid or a metal garbage can with lid.
  2. Enough seasoned wood and branches to fill drum, cut into 6×6 inch or slightly smaller pieces. This does not need to be exact.
  3. 3 or 4 bricks

Start by punching 5 holes in the center of the bottom of the drum, about 1-2″ each. Place drum on the bricks, placed so it is slightly, 1-2 inches, off the ground. Place paper and kindling in the bottom and light. Gradually fill with the wood. Start with the largest pieces first. When fire is going well, put the top back on. There should be a small amount of smoke escaping.

The smoke will start out white. This is water evaporation. The smoke will turn blue/gray, then the smoke appears yellow, and finally the smoke will clear and you will just see waves of heat. When this happens, carefully remove the bricks. Secure the lid so no more smoke escapes. Drape with a fireproof cover or weigh it down to completely seal. Our goal is to prevent any and all air from getting into the drum. If air gets in the wood will simply burn to ash and not to charcoal. Allow the drum to cool (4-24 hours). Tip the drum on it’s side and remove the charcoal.

Finally, a few favorite recipes:

Dutch Oven Sheepherder’s Bread

3 C Hot Water
1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Sugar
2 1/2 tsp. Salt
4 tsp.Yeast
9 1/2 C Flour
Oil

  1. In bowl, combine hot water, butter, sugar and salt.
  2. Stir until butter melts and let cool to warm. Test like you wold for a baby bottle.
  3. Stir in yeast and cover, let yeast get bubbly, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add 5 cups flour and beat with heavy duty mixer or wooden spoon to form a thick batter. With spoon, stir in enough of remaining flour to form a lightly sticky dough.
  5. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth and elastic about 10 minutes.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hrs.
  7. Punch down and form into a smooth ball.
  8. Grease insides of dutch oven and underside of lid with salad oil. Place dough in pot and cover with lid.
  9. Let dough rise in a warm place until dough pushes up lid about 1/2 inch, about 1 hour.
  10. Bake covered with lid, at 375º for 15 minutes. (see chart above)
  11. Remove half of the charcoal from lid and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow.
  12. Remove from oven and turn out onto rack. Makes 1 very large delicious soft white bread.

Dutch Oven Wheat Sheepherder’s Bread

3 C Hot Water
1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Sugar
2 1/2 tsp. Salt
4 tsp.Yeast
4 1/2 C Wheat Flour
4 C White Flour
Oil

  1. In bowl, combine hot water, butter, sugar and salt.
  2. Stir until butter melts and let cool to warm. Test like you wold for a baby bottle.
  3. Stir in yeast and cover, let yeast get bubbly, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add 5 cups flour and beat with heavy duty mixer or wooden spoon to form a thick batter. With spoon, stir in enough of remaining flour to form a lightly sticky dough.
  5. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth and elastic about 10 minutes.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hrs.
  7. Punch down and form into a smooth ball.
  8. Grease insides of dutch oven and underside of lid with salad oil. Place dough in pot and cover with lid.
  9. Let dough rise in a warm place until dough pushes up lid about 1/2 inch, about 1 hour.
  10. Bake covered with lid, in 375º oven for 15 minutes. (See chart above)
  11. Remove half of the charcoal from lid and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow.
  12. Remove from oven and turn out onto rack. Makes 1 very large delicious soft wheat bread.

Sound of the Border Pot Roast

1 boneless beef chuck roast (3-3 1/2 lbs)
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Mexican style diced tomatoes w/ liquid
2 tbsp. taco seasoning mix
2 tbsp. beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

  1. In a Dutch oven, brown roast in oil.
  2. Combine tomatoes, taco seasoning, bouillon, ½ cup water and sugar; pour over the roast.
  3. Cover and simmer (300 degrees) 2-2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

For gravy: Combine cold water and flour; stir until smooth. Add to juices; cook and stir over high heat until thickened and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Slice roast and serve w/ gravy.

Dutch Oven Pizza

cooking spray
1 can of pizza sauce
Green peppers diced
1 pound browned hamburger, hamburger sausage combination or hamburger ground turkey combination
1 1/2 C of Mozzarella or Cheddar/Colby cheese
Sliced mushrooms
Olives

1. Spray Dutch oven.

  1. Line with English muffins or pre-made pizza crust.
  2. Brown meat and peppers.
  3. Spread crust with refried beans that have been thinned with 2 Tbsp. water.
  4. Add 1/2 jar salsa
  5. Add meat mixture and olives.
  6. Top with cheese.
  7. Place oven in coals and top with coals to 300 degrees.
  8. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is melted and pizza is heated through.

Dutch Oven Mexican Pizza

cooking spray
1 jar salsa
Green peppers diced
1 pound browned hamburger, or hamburger ground turkey combination
1 1/2 C Cheddar/Colby cheese
1 small can refried beans thinned with 2 T water.
Olives

1. Spray Dutch oven.

  1. Line with English muffins or pre-made pizza crust.
  2. Brown meat and peppers.
  3. Spread crust with refried beans that have been thinned with 2 Tbsp. water.
  4. Add 1/2 jar salsa
  5. Add meat mixture and olives.
  6. Top with cheese.
  7. Place oven in coals and top with coals to 300 degrees.
  8. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is melted and pizza is heated through.

Dutch Oven S’more Pie

Combine:
1 1/2 Cup Graham cracker crumbs
1/3 Cup Sugar
6 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Cups Chocolate chips

Marshmallows

  1. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter.
  2. Press into pie tin and place tin in Dutch Oven at 300 degrees.
  3. Cook covered about 5 minutes.
  4. sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  5. Top with marshmallows
  6. Cook in Dutch Oven 10 minutes.
  7. Check and continue checking every 5 minutes until marshmallows are brown.
  8. Carefully remove pie tin and set to cool.
  9. Slice and enjoy.