The rugged versatility of a well cooked dutch oven is almost limitless, the Dutch Oven’s design allowing for 360 degree all direction control of heat. This How To: Dutch Oven Cooking will detail fire cooking techniques with this wonderful cast iron pot.

Fry, stew or roast – stand in the embers, BBQ or hearth, or hang from a tripod or branch, load the embers on top the deep lid to create a top down heat for browning roasties, flip the lid over and lay in embers to create a perfect sear station for your steak (whist the mushrooms saute in the pot). Such a versatile fire cookware.

How To: Dutch Oven Cooking

To appreciate the Dutch Ovens potential as fire cookware let us consider its historic time proven design.

Pure Iron

Being pure thick cast iron, the dutch oven will provide an even means of distributing and storing heat from the fire, this is particularly important with variable heat sources like flame and ember, the changes of the fires natural heat are evened out through the iron, providing a very stable cooking environment.

How To Dutch Oven Cooking

Deep Lipped Lid

The deep lipped lid allows embers from the fire or charcoal to be loaded on top of the lid, creating a top down cooking heat. By balancing the amount of embers on top to the amount underneath you can adapt your pots cooking ability to suit whenever you are cooking. For instance you made a fantastic slow cooked beef stew in the pot and decide a pastry lid would be the perfect crown, cut and place your pastry over the stew, reduce the base embers and load up the lid.

How To Dutch Oven deep lid

Lid Skillet

By inverting the lid and placing it on the embers you create cast iron skillet surface- ideal for searing steak, having a breakfast fry up or cooking crumpets.Tip: whist browning or searing on the inverted lid the pot base could be working nearby with the veg or roast tatties.

How To Dutch Oven Lid Skillet
How To Dutch Oven integral legs

Integral Legs

By including integral legs on the Dutch Oven you can cook without the need of a tripod or crane. Rake some embers to the fires edge and stand your pot on them, the pot will be warmed from below and from the side radiant heat of the fire- this isvery effective way of turning out great stews. Turn the pot every half hour or the side nearest the fire will be hotter.

How To Dutch Oven crimp handle

Center Crimp Handle

The crimped handle makes hanging the pot flat that little bit easier. Particularly useful for tripod or fire crane hanging, though we have cooked many a decent meal hung from a branch by the fire. CAUTION: The handle will like be hot, so use a mitt or towel to lift.

Dutch Oven Cooking Guide

Tip: Rule of Thirds
For even baking of foods like tarts, yorkshire puddings and bread an all round even heat works best, try having about 1/3 embers below the pot and 2/3 on the lid. This should create an even heat in the pot for baking. Play around and vary top, bottom (and side) heats, who knows if you wanted that cheese topping on you lasagne golden brown with a slight chew you might up the top load some more embers 20 minutes before serving.

Forgiving Pot
With out a doubt the ability of the dutch oven to turn out mesmeric casseroles with ease is one of its main attractions. By ease I mean without too much fiddling and faffing about- brown the onions, sear the meat, in with the spice and veg, lid on, and retreat to the guests. The dutch oven is an incredibly forgiving way to cook- too engrossed in the merriment I have sometimes forgot the stew or curry was on, shocking back to action I return to the pot a couple of hours later only to find perfection in a pot- pure iron cooking rocks.

Slow and Low
Dutch Oven Golden Rule: Mainly for 1 hour plus casseroles and stews, the ideal distance from the fire for your pot will be when you cannot hear bubbling, yet the lid is uncomfortably hot to touch. This is the magic zone where maintenance of the pot is minimised yet the contents within the are perfect cooking temperature for the various food-flavour reactions to occur.

Staged Additions
Especially with one pot meals consider your ingredients and how long it takes to cook them. There is nothing wrong with adding all at the beginning, for example a 3.5 hour malbec lamb would render down any vegetables into an incredible sauce within, perhaps consider adding other ingredients nearer serving time, like potatoes or dumplings 30 minutes, broccoli 10 minutes, spinach 1 minute before serving.

Pot Roasts

Stews

Boiling

Frying

Baking

Please note this Dutch Oven Cooking Guide is work in progress, so check by again sometime for further additions.

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