The Dutch Oven is an awesome tool when cooking over the open flame. It is made of Cast Iron and is able to evenly distribute heat in an amazing way. In the hand of someone who knows what they are doing there is no better campfire food than what comes out of a Dutch Oven. So here are some tips to get you to Novice Level – to become an expert you will need to get some time around the campfire.
The How of Heat
The dutch oven, with its solid cast iron construction, is a great way to cook just about anything. The biggest reason is because of the heat spreading properties of the dutch oven. Even though the dutch oven spreads heat out on its own very well, there are still some tricks to get desired results based on what you are cooking.
If you are making a stew or a soup then heat from the bottom will be sufficient. The heat for this type of cooking can come from flame or coals, but typically flames will be the best. You will want the heat source to be applied to the bottom of the container. The difference in heat between the top of the dutch oven and bottom will help create a convection effect inside the over and allow for better cooking of the materials.
If you are trying to bake (think of a cobbler, cornbread, or a side dish) then you will find that coals are undoubtedly the best thing for cooking. In fact, you will want to set the dutch oven on the coal bed and pack a layer of coals around and on-top of the dutch oven. Be very careful when you take off the lid so that you don’t get ashes in the food. The effect of the coals that surround the dutch oven is the same as a regular oven, and the cast iron helps to even the heat for the whole container -allowing all parts of the dish to cook evenly.
Dutch ovens come in all sorts of sizes. Each size offers certain benefits. So here is a simple table to help better explain the sizes.
|Oven Size||Oven Capacity||Depth||Weight||Types Of Dishes|
|8″||2 Quarts||3″||11 lbs.||Side dishes, vegetables, desserts, and sauces. Ideal when cooking for 2 or 3 people.|
|10″||4 Quarts||3 ½”||15 lbs.||Side dishes, vegetables, beans, small roasts, desserts, and sauces.|
|12″||6 Quarts||3 ¾”||20 lbs.||Roasts, poultry, fish, stews, potatoes, beans, rolls, breads, and desserts.|
|12″ D||8 Quarts||5″||23 lbs.||Standing rib roasts, hams, whole chickens, stews, potatoes, beans, rolls, and breads.|
|14″||8 Quarts||3 ¾”||26 lbs.||Larger roasts, poultry, stews, potatoes, rolls, breads, and desserts.|
|14″ D||10 Quarts||4 ½”||28 lbs.||Standing rib roasts, hams, hens, stews, potatoes, rolls, and breads.|
|16″||12 Quarts||3 ¾”||32 lbs.||Large quantities of meat, stews, potatoes, rolls, breads, and desserts.|
Care for your Dutch Oven
The dutch oven needs some special TLC in order for it to stay healthy. As long as you keep it healthy, then it will last for generations. So here are some care tips:
- If the oven doesn’t come pre-seasoned, then you will need to season it before the first use.
- After you have used it, remove the food from the oven and rinse it out – DO NOT USE SOAP.
- The next step is to let it air dry.
- Then Heat it up so that is it hot to touch, and apply a thin coat of oil to the inside.
- Then let it cool off of the heat source.
If you follow those steps then the oven will be ready at a moments notice and will last for generations.