Cooking with a Dutch Oven
Let’s first state the obvious. A Dutch Oven is not for use on backpacking adventures (unless your trip includes mules to carry heavy items). However, a Dutch Oven is perfect for the many base-camping opportunities that a troop has where the Scouts don’t camp far from the vehicles that brought them to the campout. There are, in general, four ways to use a Dutch oven:
- Like an oven at home, using cake pans or other oven-ready pans raised up on a rack or on metal stakes inside the oven to keep the pans from having much direct contact with the oven.
- Like a large cook pot. Pre-heat the oven to kill germs, before putting any food into it, and/or line the inside with extra heavy-duty aaluminum foil. Coat the bottom and sides of the oven with oil or grease where any food will be in contact with it, to avoid sticking and to minimize clean-up. Make sure that the foil doesn’t touch the lid, so that the lid still fits tightly.
- Use the inside of the lid of the Dutch Oven as a griddle. Pre-heat and clean the lid to kill germs. Keep the lid well oiled during cooking.
- Like a deep fat fryer. Great for cooking donuts, and other fried foods. Not suggested for younger Scouts, due to safety concerns with hot grease.
Where to put the Charcoal
The number of coals to put under the Dutch Oven, and to put on top of the lid depends on what kind of dish you are preparing. When cooking breads or cobblers, you want to have the coals mostly on top of the lid, so that the bread or cake doesn’t burn on the bottom. This will also be a good rule for any other kind of dish that doesn’t have very much moisture in it. The more moisture that a food has, and the more density that the food has, the more coals should be under the oven, so that the meats or stews, for instance, cook fully. The recipes in later posts will give you an estimate of how many coals to put where.
Handling a Dutch Oven
- Dutch Oven pliers (Or at least channel-lock pliers)
- Leather gloves. Given only one item, the Dutch Oven pliers are indispensable for both carrying a hot oven and handling the hot lid.
Look for my next article on how to clean a Dutch oven and then how to fix breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert.
Author: Roger Tipley | Past Scoutmaster of Troop 626, Houston, TX, currently serves on his District Committee.