Dutch Oven Cooking / Episode 1: Getting Started

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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

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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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Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler

Peaches are in their prime! Here’s a great (and easy!) way to make peach cobbler in your dutch oven.

Use a #10 dutch oven with a rimmed lid and short legs on the bottom. For easy clean up, insert a 3 quart aluminum casserole pan inside the dutch oven. The cobbler can be removed when done and the dutch oven remains spotless and clean.

The ingredients are easy.

  • 6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • Cinnamon to taste

Pour the dry ingredients into the dutch oven and mixture thoroughly. Then pour the peaches over the dry mixture. Take a large spoon and blend the mixture. IMPORTANT: Only stir the mixture 4-5 times.

Now sprinkle the top with cinnamon. Put the lid on the dutch oven and make sure the lid fits flush. You may have to press down to crush the foil lip of the casserole pan liner to get a good fit.

Spread 8-10 hot coals on the ground. Use a pit or rake away any combustible grass or brush from the area. Place the dutch over over the hot coals. The legs of the dutch oven will keep from crushing the coals. Now pour the remainder of the coals on top of the dutch oven. Cooking time takes about 45 minutes but check the progress every 15 minutes. Adjust the temperature by adding of removing coals from the top and bottom of the dutch oven.

Serve hot from the dutch oven for some of the best peach cobbler that’s easy to make and no mess to clean up.

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Venison Stew

Here’s a warm, delicious stew we thought you might enjoy.

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. Cook: 2 hours 10 min.                    MAKES: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds venison stew meat
  • 3 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 7 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Bottled browning sauce, optional

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Brown meat. Add onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper and water. Simmer, covered, 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.
  2. Add potatoes and carrots. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 30-45 minutes.
  3. Mix flour and cold water; stir into stew. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add browning sauce if desired. Remove bay leaf. Yield: 8-10 servings.

 

Beef Jerky Stew

Beef Jerky Stew

Here’s an easy, hearty meal for those fall camp-outs!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 leek, chopped
4 3 oz. packages beef jerky (in whatever flavor you prefer)
2 teaspoons dried sage
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions: 

Heat the butter in a large pan. Add the onions and celery and sauté until they begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Cook for a minute or two. Transfer the celery and onions to the slow cooker.

Add the beef broth, carrots, parsnips, leeks, beef jerky and spices to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. When done, add more  salt to taste. If you want, sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.

 

 

Easy, Delicious Camp Breakfast: Pinnacles Scramble

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CHIPOTLE POTATOES
1 can (7 oz.) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound large Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/2 in. thick
1 large poblano chile
4 green onions, sliced diagonally
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THE SCRAMBLE AND SERVING
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
About 1/4 tsp. each kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 cups fire-roasted tomato salsa
Crème fraîche
Warm corn tortillas*
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Preparation

AT HOME

1. Make potatoes: Preheat oven to 475°. Purée chipotles and sauce in a blender. Spoon 2 tbsp. into a bowl; save the rest for other uses. Stir in oil, salt, and pepper, then potatoes.

2. Spread potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving a corner empty; put poblano in corner. Bake, turning chile and potatoes occasionally, until chile is blackened and potatoes are well browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Peel, stem, seed, and coarsely chop chile. In a plastic container, combine potatoes, chile, and onions; chill until used, up to 2 days.

IN CAMP

3. Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl to blend with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper; set aside. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt butter, then add potato mixture and stir occasionally with a flexible spatula until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add egg mixture, reduce heat to medium, and cook, scrambling gently, until set, 2 to 4 minutes; add cheese and cilantro during last minute. Serve with salsa, crème fraîche, and tortillas, plus more salt and pepper to taste.

*Double-wrap tortillas in foil and warm over low heat, turning often.