Dutch Oven Cooking with Jim, Episode 2: Cheesy Potato Casserole


“Cheese is like life!”


Cheesy Potato Casserole


½ of a large box of hash browns/shredded potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

8 cups hot water

2 large cans of Cream of Chicken soup

Four very large scoops of sour cream

2 small cans diced green chilis

LOTS of shredded cheese



Start your charcoals.

Fill the box of hash browns with boiling water and let set 15 minutes, then

Put the half the box of potatoes into a large Dutch oven pot.  (For easier cleanup, use a Dutch oven pot liner.)

Mix in a separate bowl:  Cream of Chicken soup, four very large scoops of sour cream, LOTS of shredded cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour wet mix into the pot with the potatoes and mix thoroughly.

Add more cheese on top.

Put lid on the pot and put on coals for 40 minutes.  One quarter of your coals should be on the bottom and three quarters of the coals should be on top.

After 15 minutes, turn the pot and the lid one quarter turn.  Don’t touch the handle without a hot pad!

After 40 minutes, enjoy the bubbly gooyness of it all!

Next Friday:  Classic baked beans!


Dutch Oven Cooking / Episode 1: Getting Started


Today we start a new video series, Dutch Oven Cooking with Jim.  Every Friday for the next several weeks, we will be bringing you great ideas on how to cook everything from main courses, side dishes and deserts.  Today we focus on just how easy it is to get started dutch oven cooking.

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Enjoy the series.  Yum!

Dutch Oven Lasagna


It’s cold outside, but already you are dreaming of those warm summer days around the campfire.  Here’s the how-to.

(from CooksFrontier.com)

This time around, I didn’t just jump in and assume that I knew what the heck I was doing. I actually did a little research and I was rewarded for my efforts with this beautiful (and HUGE!) lasagna for our Sunday dinner. Not only was the lasagna cooked perfectly, but by using the dutch oven I was able to make it outside while I was doing my weekly baking inside in the oven. That’s what I call a good use of time and space.

To start, we rigged up a little outdoor cooking space that was better than I used last time. We’re in the process of building a permanent fire pit/cooking pit, but until it’s done this works fantastic. My husband laid down some extra bricks and put an old cast iron grate over the top of that. Behind the bricks, we stacked up a row of cinder blocks and then put another one on the top of that. This created a super nice wind break and the bricks on the bottom kept the cold ground from sucking all of my heat away. Whew! That was some discretion, eh? So, next we lit some briquettes and I stepped back inside to get my lasagna assembled. By the time I was done, my charcoal was, too.

Then we used the “plus 4, minus 4” rule to set out the circle of hot coals for the bottom of the dutch oven. Basically, you take the size of your dutch oven (I had a 12 inch one) and subtract 4 to get the number of coals for the bottom of the oven and then you add 4 to the size to get the number of coals for the top. There should be roughly twice as many above as there is below. This figure will get you to about 350 degrees or so.

Remember, heat rises, so you have to force the heat DOWN into the dutch oven by using more heat on top. In my case, we needed a ring of 8 coals on the bottom, HOWEVER, it was raining and windy again, so we added 2 extra on the bottom for a total of 10 to combat the adverse conditions. Using the same rule, we needed 16 on the top but, again, we added an extra 2 to help offset the nasty weather.

The lasagna needed to cook for an hour, about the same time it takes to bake in my conventional oven, so I left it alone and let the dutch oven do it’s thing. After about 30 minutes, I rotated the dutch oven 180 degrees and peeked in. Everything looked great, so i left it alone. After 60 minutes, the lasagna was completely done, we just needed to brown the top. So I added a second ring of coals to the top of the dutch oven and took it off of the bottom coals. This helped the top to brown and kept the bottom from overcooking. At this point, we left and fed our cows. When we got home about 20 minutes later, our lasagna was perfectly cooked and we were starving!

Lessons Learned: Cooking in a dutch oven is fun, but learning how to brown something in one was AWESOME! It’s just a little thing that makes so much difference. I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty amazing after I successfully made our dinner in a dutch oven and it was actually edible. It was fantastic, to be honest, and I feel just a little bit more comfortable with this outdoor method of cooking.

Tools Used: 

  1. 12 Inch Dutch Oven
  2. Charcoal Lighter Basket
  3. Lid Lifter
  4. Cast Iron Conditioner (after clean up, of course)


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