I had friends in my home from out of State. The first question they ask me is, “can we cook in a Dutch oven.” Their next question was, “Can I cook fish and make biscuits?”
I knew that is was time to go over the basics, now that their interest was really up, so I cooked trout that a friend caught in a stream about four miles from my home — and then came the delicious golden brown biscuits.
Cooking in a Dutch oven is much like painting by number. Below I will explain the basics of Dutch oven cooking, and if you follow the basic rules you will turn out the most incredible dishes time after time after time.
Virtually any method of cooking you encounter on a daily basis can be adapted for Dutch oven use — baking, braising, boiling, frying, stewing and roasting.
Temperature control for baking:
Most baking recipes require a temperature setting of 325ºF. An easy method to get a temperature of 325º Fahrenheit within your Dutch oven is to subtract or add the number 3 to the size of your Dutch oven to determine the number of charcoal briquettes to use underneath and on top. Find the size of the Dutch oven you use (see below) to know the correct number of briquettes.
Following numbers are for baking in a Dutch Oven 325° Temperature
The first number is the size of the Dutch oven (12 inches). (You can find the size of your Dutch oven imprinted on the lid of most Dutch ovens.) The next number is the number of hot briquettes to put on the top (15) and the last it the number to put on the bottom (9).
8 in, 11, 5
10 in, 13, 7
12 in, 15, 9
14 in, 17, 11
16 in, 19, 13
The following example uses the formula for a 12-inch Dutch oven.
* Subtract 3 from 12, which equals 9 — the number of briquettes to place beneath the oven. * Take the number 12 and add 3, which equals 15 — the number of briquettes to place on the lid of the oven.
With this formula, 9 briquettes go underneath and 15 briquettes are placed on the top of the lid of a 12-inch Dutch oven to cook at 325ºF. One-third of the heat will be underneath the Dutch oven, and two-thirds of the heat will be on top. Heat rises, so you do not need as many coals on the bottom of the oven.
Arrange briquettes so they are evenly spaced under the Dutch oven and on its lid. Also, you always need to rotate your Dutch oven a quarter turn every 15 minutes to avoid hot spots. Replace briquettes with new coals as they burn out.
Baking in a Dutch Oven
Most people would never dream of baking outdoors, but the most flavorful treats can be baked in a Dutch oven. Cake, pie, and biscuits cooked in your kitchen take about the same time in a Dutch oven. Baking can be done directly in the Dutch oven bottom, or by placing a pan in the oven elevated on rocks, canning jar rings, a Dutch oven rack, a round cookie cooling rack or small wads of foil. When elevating your food, temperature control is determined by charcoal briquette placement. In a Dutch oven, you create an oven like the one at home, which allows hot air to circulate around the pan. This is the easiest way to bake in a Dutch oven.
Roasting Foods in a Dutch Oven
Most roasting recipes require a temperature of 375ºF or higher. To achieve a high-temperature oven, you need to use additional coals on the lid and underneath. Preheat the Dutch oven for 10 or more minutes before filling it. For example, to reach 375ºF.in a 12-inch Dutch oven, use 11 coals under the Dutch oven and 17 hot coals on the lid.
It is time to get your Dutch oven out and fire up some great dishes. Memorial Day is the beginning of the outdoor cooking season.
Remember the way to prepare for an emergency is to learn and enjoy the techniques and cooking method beforehand. Then if anything happens where you need it, you will be ready and you will think it is fun.
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