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Dutch Oven Cooking

This is my first post on this forum, please advise if changes should be made.

Base camp cooking can be a great apres-hike evening! My Dutch Oven nachos have created frenzied eating around the campfire.  Next "in camp" dessert effort...Crepes. 

I would like to meet with other camp chefs (and newbies) to swap techniques, successes and recipes from cast iron. Bring your own oven and ingredients and of course BYOB paring suggestions. 

North New Jersey area,  summer 2021?

Please let me know if you have any interest and we can get a park permit for a picnic. 

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14 Replies

@JeffPPeters - I love Kent Rollins' stuff. I use cast iron cookware almost exclusively at home and he has provided some tips and ideas that have made it even more enjoyable.

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I will look for my shepherds bread receipt to share. It uses milk (sheep's milk if you have it fresh on hand 😉 ).  for you  bread bakers out there use a basic bread recipe with unbleached flour, milk, butter, sugar (or honey) salt and of course sourdough starter. Bake medium heat for 2 hours. be sure to spread coals evenly.

Thats the basics but I will try to find the actual recipe for those who who are not ready to wingit.

Laura

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@Davpow So how do you make your nachos?  Any special instruction beyond "Layer it up" & "easy on the heat"?  

I'm coming late to the party but feel the need to toss another log or two on the campfire so we can set a spell and chat more about DOs.....

 

But first, for Davpow who started this thread, the DO lid inverted makes a pretty good crepe pan.  Just use the back of a shallow spoon to spread the batter. A quick swipe with a paper towel that has some neutral oil on it every few crepes will help with any sticking as your lid will likely not be as well seasoned as the DO itself.  But it will be if you make a lot of crepes.  And pancakes.  And pita breads.

 

Thirty years ago I was a Lodge cast iron cookware dealer. I taught outdoor cookery for several years and having raised five sons and a daughter in a family active in the outdoors, and being a Scoutmaster for over ten years our camp Dutch ovens got a lot of use.  But when my youngest son in turned 18 in 2005 I stepped away from scouting and, as thing turned out, away from our several camp style Dutch ovens.

Until 2017..... when we sold our Upstate NY farm and moved full time to our North Carolina home.  Now we spend close to every other week of the spring and fall (and some winter and summer stuff too) camping, on paddling trips, backpacking trips etc.

And as things played out someone "ratted us out" to the local scout council and we've worked part time for them since.  So....

The Dutch ovens are back in play, whether on our trips, in our backyard fire pit or for scouting related things.  Having taught outdoor cookery for years I firmly believe that with basic camp cook gear you can pretty much cook anything in camp that you can cook at home. 

A good resource to start out with camp cookery and especially Dutch oven cooking is either the older edition of "Camp cookery for small groups" which is a pamphlet and can be found at online used book outlets or the newer edition which is a thicker spiral bound book and is available through the BSA store online (and maybe other outlets?).

One advantage of that book is that it is based on groups of 8 with recipes that are easy to scale up or down (guidelines provided).  The book also has a basic shopping guide with tidbits on determining quantities of staples etc.

Perhaps the best part of the Dutch oven recipes is that it has a thorough discussion of the one real key to camp Dutch oven cooking, temperature management.  The recipes will read something like "at 10 minutes your should see XX.  If less than XX do this.  If more than XX do that."  After trying a few of those recipes you'll have the process of transitioning from the home kitchen to the camp DO kitchen down pat.

For most folks the 12" standard depth DO is a good starting point as it can cook for a group of 8 comfortably and can cook smaller meals easily, too.In fact, unless you mail order one you'll only likely see 12" ovens in stores.

Our personal ovens are generally configured as a grab-and-go set; each has a round wire rack in the bottom (more on that later), a pair of DO or leather welding gloves, a lid lifter pliers and a pan in them.  If you plan to bake breads or larger roasts or poultry consider a deep sided oven (AKA a bread oven)

Look for a "pizza pan gripper" that has a hook on the end of one handle and you can use it to remove the lid or carry the DO by the bail handle.  Best of all, it fits into the DO and most lid lifters will not in it.

You can buy DO gloves/mittens or, as I do, inexpensive leather welding gloves for less money and the welding gloves can also be used for rough camp chores-just keep them dry as any glove/mitten that is wet or damp will have a chance of causing stem burn inside the glove when you grab a really hot item.

Size your pan so that you have room to grab the rim with the pliers and get it out of the DO without spilling the contents.  A 12' DO will usually take a 10" pan just fine. For starters, take some shelf stable pre-made pizza shells along and maybe work up to fresh dough or refrigerated pizza dough from the store later.

Oh, and the pre-made refrigerated pizza dough can make rolls, calzones etc, too.

As for the rack, it can help reduce scorching or sticking by elevating a pan in the oven, be used to support a pot over a small fire, give me a clean spot to place the lid or other things etc.

And if you use the disposable aluminum DO liners or parchment paper don't forget them. Some optional items are a lighter or waterproof match safe, a small short handled shovel for moving coals, a fire starter or two etc will fit in the oven, too.

Lastly, if your are lucky enough to live near or be passing near a Lodge factory store do yourself a favor and check out the factory seconds.  Those have some sort of minor defect (generally a blemish in the seasoning or a small pit in the casting) that won't ever matter in the kitchen but the savings are dramatic.  Apparently Lodge recently discounted their seconds even more than before.  Last week I went into the Lodge store near Charlotte, NC and bought a "second quality" 10" camp DO and lid for $39 which is around 1/2 the going retail price.  A "second quality" deep 10" oven was a dollar or two more and a standard or deep 12" oven was in the $42-44 range.

Sausage stuffed and rolled pork loin or roast beef in camp anyone??

Best regards to all,

 

Lance

 

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Hi, @Davpow could you please share a recipe for your Dutch oven nachos?

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