A Dutch oven is a cooking utensil, typically cast iron with a domed lid, used for baking and braising. Dutch ovens were traditionally heated in an outdoor fireplace or pit. They are now often used in home kitchens or when camping.
The Difference Between Classic and Camping Dutch Ovens
A classic Dutch oven is used for baking or boiling food and has a flat bottom to be placed in an oven. The lid is designed to fit tightly on top of the pot bottom when the oven is used and becomes the main cooking surface. Due to its less prominent features, a Dutch camping oven will not heat up as much as a Dutch oven. It is made primarily for outdoor use and generally does not have a flat bottom since cooking on an indoor stovetop would be difficult. A Dutch camping oven is used to boil water or cook over an open fire.
How to Use
When using a Dutch oven for camping, your method depends on the item you are cooking. For example, you will use a different method for cooking steak than for cooking beans. Here is a list of the different Heating Methods:
- Dry-Roast: You will need to use a Dutch oven that has a large diameter, which is also known as a “dry-roast” type. You can roast a variety of items in this form.
- Braise: Here, you need to use something made to hold its shape and has ribs on it (such as with a dutch oven). Place the food in the bottom of the oven, cover with a lid, and place coals over the lid using an appropriate stove. If the eating time is extended, you can use a pan underneath to catch the drippings.
- Boil: This can be done in a Dutch oven with no ribs or in a pot (with or without rails). The advantage of a Dutch oven is that you can cook on any heat source (including over coals), and there will be no chance of burning the bottom of the dish.
- Stew: Here, you will want to use something with ribs (i.e., dutch oven) so that the food will stay in shape. This is also known as a “braise” or “porridge” method.
- Steam: You will want to use something with large (elongated) holes, called a “steamer.” This is the most efficient way of cooking, but it only works for vegetables and other small items. A variety of vegetables can be cooked simultaneously using this method; be sure to keep them from touching each other.
Steps for Using in a Campfire
Step 1: Light your fire. It is essential to do this early because it takes time for your coals to be ready. Preheat the oven on the coals to 500 degrees. This will help your food cook faster and more evenly. Lighter fluid is not recommended, but if you must use it, let the fluid completely burn off (so there is no residual odor) before you put your oven on the coals. Allow coals to heat for about 15 minutes.
Step 2: Place your pot on the coals. Be careful at this point not to let the oven fall below 500 degrees, and the bottom of the pot will be hot enough to scorch your food. Place your lid on and keep a close eye on it; it may take a while to start cooking because of all of the moisture in the pot. You can add chicken broth, water, or wine to your recipe to create the moisture content you want, but it is not necessary. Some recipes call for a small amount of oil or fat added to the pot after it is on the coals.
Step 3: Stir. You will need to stir occasionally while cooking to prevent burning food. The food should begin to change color after about 10-15 minutes, and you can remove the lid at this time. If you suspect burning, put your lid back on and stir again. Cooking time is usually 30-40 minutes but can be longer depending on the recipe.
Step 4: Rotate. If you are using a grill, you will need to rotate your Dutch oven periodically to prevent burning. Rotating your oven can also help distribute heat evenly throughout the pot. Some recipes call for additional oil or butter at this time, which will make a nice golden brown crust on your food.
Step 5: Remove. When the cooking time is complete, remove the fire and let your food rest for ten minutes. If you are not eating your food immediately, turn off the oven and put it in a warm spot with no fire underneath. A Dutch oven lid can be placed directly on your pot to retain heat.
What to Cook
You can cook a wide variety of foods in your Dutch oven. You can cook them directly on the fire, in a fireplace, or on your grill. The following recipes are examples of preparing using a Dutch oven during camping season.
Dutch Oven Recipes
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches: This is an excellent dish for serving a big crowd during camping season. The meat is slow-cooked over coals until tender and then pulled apart. You can add your favorite barbecue sauce, serve in hamburger buns, or make a sandwich with extra sauce, lettuce, and cheese.
- Dutch Oven Roast Chicken: This recipe calls for a tasty glaze made from raw honey, lemon juice, and herbs. The chicken is cooked over coals until done, and you can serve with rice or potatoes.
- Beans and Franks: This easy camping recipe takes a few simple ingredients like hot dogs, beans, onions, and peppers to make a great meal. You can add additional ingredients like cooked bacon, chicken sausage, and ground beef for even more flavors.
- Dutch Oven Snacks: This recipe has a variety of items that are great for snacking after a day in the outdoors. It is simple to put together, and the flavors mixed with cheese make it a dish that everyone will love.
- Dutch Oven Beef Stew: This popular recipe calls for many onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes. A variety of tasty spices are added to the pot just before serving.
Is a Dutch oven worth it for camping?
Yes, a Dutch oven is something we always have in our camping gear. We love Dutch oven meals, but in the winter, we often take both the Chicken Pot Roast and Cornbread recipe along with us to camp. The Dutch oven allows us to boil water instantly and place the pot directly on coals to have our meal almost immediately. It also has many cooking options that enable it to be used for a wide variety of meals, especially when you consider everything you can bake or cook in it.
A Dutch oven is a versatile piece of cooking equipment that every camper should have. They are available for purchase at camping stores, outdoor stores, and online. There are many models available, and the price range depends on your budget and what you will be using it for. This article has listed the benefits of owning a Dutch oven while camping, some different types of Dutch ovens, the materials they are made from and how to use them. Dutch Oven recipes have been included, and some fun facts about this time-tested piece of equipment.