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Welcome to the wonderful world of Dutch oven cooking. This booklet is intended to provide the beginner with enough information to be successful on their first attempt at cooking outdoors with a camp style Dutch oven (the kind with legs under them and a lid with a lip.) A good piece of advice to beginners is to ignore what my mother always used to say about "not wasting food when there are hungry people in China". If a first try doesn't work, learn from the mistake, throw out the food, make the adjustments needed, and try again. Practice a dish in private if you must before trying it out on friends, but the information in this booklet gives you all the basic knowledge you need to begin successfully cooking all kinds of food in these wonderful black pots on the first try. I categorically state that it is very easy for beginners to learn to cook with a Dutch Oven, and it is certainly a lot of fun. They are great when camping, but are also a lot of fun when grilling on the patio. A good brisket cooked on a charcoal grill and some baked beans and fresh yeast bread ALSO cooked with charcoal in Dutch ovens is a wonderful treat. Eventually, you'll do the brisket in the black pot too...YUM!
BUYING AND BREAKING IN AN OVEN
Dutch ovens can be purchased made from either cast iron or aluminum. Unless you are backpacking, or need to use a Dutch oven where weight is a problem, stick to cast iron ovens where at all possible. The aluminum ovens do not distribute heat quite as well as cast iron, they classically have hot spots in them, and you are more likely to burn food in one than in a cast iron pot. The aluminum ovens are typically ordered from catalogs, whereas the cast iron ones are commonly available in sporting goods stores, and some hardware stores (especially outside of large cities).
A lot of sporting goods stores now carry Dutch Ovens in a range of sizes. Our first oven was a 10-inch, which is a perfect size for two people. A family of four or five should start with a 12-inch oven, and Boy Scout leaders should consider buying a 14-inch oven (or two!). The size is the pot diameter in inches, and the number is cast into the lid. A 10-inch oven costs between $25 and $50, depending on where you buy it, and of course, the larger ones are more expensive. There are several sites on the Internet where you can order them. Avoid cheap ovens like the plague, as they are nothing but headaches.
When you purchase a new oven, ALWAYS inspect it closely in the store before you pay for it. Pull the oven and lid out of the box for close inspection. Check for cracks (casting defects are rare, but sometimes happen) and check the fit of the lid. Lid fit is important. The lid must sit flat on the bottom part without any vertical rocking when you push down on different parts of the rim. A flat contact is critical for the Dutch oven to function properly (heat conduction from lid to side wall). In addition, the lid should NOT fit too tightly in the sideways direction. The lid should be able to slide back and forth sideways from 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. If the fit sideways is too tight, future build-up of seasoning will eventually make it stick closed during a cooking session. If this happens to you, tap upward on the lid with a block of wood to free it.
The best quality cast iron Dutch ovens currently made are fabricated in Tennessee by Lodge Manufacturing Company (www.lodgemfg.com, they also sell accessories). The ovens come with good break-in instructions, and some recipes. I break in a new oven as follows. The ovens come with a protective edible wax coated on them to keep them from rusting during shipment. To get rid of this material, wash the oven with hot water and dish soap. It won't be obvious that you washed anything off, but you did. Thoroughly rinse all the soap out and towel dry. The oven must be seasoned immediately or it will start to rust right before your eyes. The surface of cast iron is very porous, like a fine sponge. The idea of seasoning is to fill all the fine holes with cooking oil and then convert the oil to carbon with heat. The carbon will eventually fill up all the fine holes and produce a non-stick surface.
The following procedure can be done in your kitchen oven at home, but it will stink up the house due to burning oil. I do mine outside over charcoal. Warm the clean, dry oven to about 200 degrees. I sit the oven over about 8-10 hot charcoal briquettes and the lid (separately) over the same number, on a metal lid stand (see accessories, later). When they are just too hot to touch with the bare hand, remove from the heat using gloves, and thoroughly coat them inside and outside (even the bottom) with solid Crisco using a paper towel. It is messy, so do it on some newspapers. Let them cool about 30 minutes, and then wipe the excess Crisco out with a paper towel. Heating them up dries the cast iron, and also drives out air from the small pores. When coated hot, and then allowed to cool, the Crisco gets drawn into the pores. Finally, re-coat the pot inside and out with a good brand of vegetable cooking oil, using just enough to thinly coat all the surfaces. Then bring the pot and lid up to cooking temperature (about 350F, see temperature control later) for about an hour. Wipe out any excess oil with a wad of paper towels when it just gets hot. I recommend that this first seasoning is done without the hot charcoal touching the metal, as charcoal ash will "cook' into the seasoning finish on the lid. Just set the lid on a lid stand as before, over 1 - 1/2 rings (see temperature control later) of fresh hot charcoal. Or, if you don't have a lid stand, tightly press some heavy duty aluminum foil over the top of the lid. Sit the lid on the pot and put the charcoal on top. When done, let it all cool and you're ready to cook.
Rusty pots or pots with severely damaged seasoning can be completely restored. Sand, scrape, steel wool, or wire brush them to remove damaged seasoning or rust. Then treat them as new pots and re-season them, and they will be like new.
CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR NEW DUTCH OVEN
Once the oven has been seasoned, DO NOT put soap in it again, or you will "un-season" it and have to repeat the process. (After you have cooked in a pot for several years to build up a heavy seasoning, soap can be used sparingly.) A hot water soak and a plastic or natural scrub pad will remove anything, even burned material. Never use hard metal utensils such as spoons or spatulas inside the pot as they will scratch the layer of carbon that you are trying to build up inside the oven (soft brass brushes can be used, see later). Use only plastic, Teflon, or wooden utensils to stir or serve food.
If you store your ovens in a place where they will be exposed to high humidity and high temperatures in the summer (such as in a garage in Houston), then oil them very lightly inside and out for storage to prevent rust. However, the oil will get rancid over time if the pot is not stored properly. Proper storage involves propping the lid open so air can freely circulate inside. When this is done, the pots usually will not go rancid. Always smell the pot (with your nose down inside it) before cooking in it. A sweet pot has no odor at all inside. If you can smell rancid oil in a pot after storage, you must "sweeten" the pot. When a pot is rancid, you will know it, trust me, and the food cooked in a rancid pot will taste like the pot smells.
Normal use will gradually build up thickened oil that feels waxy like a candle. This material is part of the seasoning that helps prevent food from sticking, and it is dark brown in color. It is the un-thickened oil that goes rancid. To clean out a pot to remove rancid smells, you must carefully, and in a controlled manner, burn it out. Simply put a full spread (see later) of hot charcoal under the pot and a full spread on the lid, with the charcoal laying flat and just touching . After about 5 minutes, lift the lid and quickly wipe out the inside of the pot with a wad of paper towels to remove as much of the liquefied oil as you can. Don't forget to wipe the inside of the lid before you put it back on the pot. Try to do this with the pot very hot. Ten minutes later, dump the coals off the lid and remove the pot from the heat to cool along with the lid (lid off the pot). If it still smells bad after cooling, repeat the procedure.
During this procedure, you are burning off the rancid oil, plus you are converting the waxy oils to carbon at high temperature. This procedure is also what turns the pots black (carbon deposits) which is another part of the desirable protective coating. If you over-do the time on a burn out, you can actually remove the seasoning, and you'll have to re-season the pot. This is why it is best to do burn-outs only for 15 minutes at a time. If you don't wipe out the excess oil at first when the pot first gets hot, loose carbon will be formed like scale in the pot, and it must be removed (I use a soft brass brush). The pot is still seasoned after properly burning it out, so just oil it before cooking and you are in business. When oiling the inside of a pot or lid, always lightly oil all the outside surfaces to generate that black pot finish.
With a new pot, try to avoid cooking things with a lot of water or acids (tomatoes) in the pot at first, as they will tend to get into the unfilled pores and try to rust the pot. Stick with frying or baking for the first few tries and then you'll be OK. Also, avoid cooking any kind of dry beans (pinto, navy, baked, etc) in the pot for a while. I have found out the hard way that cooking beans can damage the seasoning in a pot if the pot is not cleaned right away after cooking. A pot that sits with beans in it all day will have no seasoning left in it… it literally will peel off in sheets. Tomato sauces are hard on pots also. One last thing… cast iron is brittle. If you drop it on concrete, it will break. If you pour cold water into a hot pot, it can crack the pot… so DON'T! Boiling water, added slowly to a hot pot is OK. Properly cared for, these pots will last several lifetimes.
ACCESSORIES YOU WILL NEED
You will need a charcoal starter. Chimney starters are the best way to light charcoal. They are available at sporting goods stores, or you can make one from a large coffee can with both ends cut out and some holes punched in the sides. You will need something to set the lid on when it has hot charcoal on it (a lid stand), and a tool to pick up the lid when it is loaded with charcoal (lid tool). These items can be purchased (Lodge sells them), or you can make them. A round cake rack that will fit inside your oven is very handy to use as a trivet. To save your back and the grass, you can even buy cooking tables designed for Dutch oven cooking, but a few concrete blocks will do the same thing. Various other utensils come in handy, such as long handled tongs for moving hot charcoal around on the lids, a small shovel to move large amounts of charcoal from a starter to a lid, gloves, etc. Start with just the basics, and add as you want to.
CHARCOAL AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Beginners frequently over-start their charcoal. By that I mean they leave it in the starter too long before they use it. It should take only 10 to 15 minutes to start charcoal in a chimney starter, and anything longer than that is a waste. It may not look lit in the starter, but if it has flames coming out the top and no smoke, it is ready. Dump out the coals and use the fully lit ones first. Charcoal that has been started for 30 minutes before it is put on a pot will be half burned away, and will not produce as much heat per briquette. It will also not provide heat long enough to finish some recipes. Always start more charcoal than you need, so you can add the extra later to maintain heat if necessary, especially if it is windy. All recipes assume that you use fresh, properly lit charcoal. A few lit coals in a starter will start charcoal put on top.
When I first started this Dutch oven thing, I tried to count out the number of charcoal briquettes called for in the Dutch Oven recipe books. I rapidly found this to be far less than satisfactory for me, as it's dangerous to have to take your shoes off to count hot charcoal. In addition, I found out that you have to use more of the cheaper brands of charcoal than if you use a quality brand such as improved Kingsford "K" charcoal. So, I decided to measure quantities of hot charcoal by geometric patterns. All of my recipes are based on using the improved Kingsford K charcoal or equivalent and the following "ring" method of temperature control. The definitions are:
1-ring : If you make a circle of hot charcoal with all of the briquettes lying flat and touching each other, with spaces left out for the legs on the bottom rings, that is "one ring". The outside edge of the ring is lined up with the outside edge of the pot, top or bottom.
1/2-ring : A "half ring" is the same size circle, but with every other briquette missing.
2- rings : is simply a second ring just inside the first, with the rings touching.
Full spread :means to put all the briquettes you can (one layer deep, lying flat) either under (very rare, except in frying) or on top of the pot.
This ring technique is kind of self-correcting for the size of the briquettes used. If your charcoal has been burning for a while, the pieces will be smaller and will put out less heat. But, it will take more of them to make a ring, so you still get about the same temperature. Of course they won't last as long and the comparison is rough, but it's better than counting briquettes!
These cooking utensils were designed hundreds of years ago to cook food using coals from wood fires. Yes, of course you can cook with campfire coals, but the technique is beyond the scope of this booklet.
Most Dutch oven cookbooks tell you how many charcoal briquettes to put on the lid and how many under the pot. As mentioned above, the resulting temperature depends on the size, and brand of your charcoal, how long it has been lit, the wind, and even if it is sunny or shady (a black pot will cook 25 degrees hotter in the summer sun than in the shade). I have been able to cook almost everything there is to cook with just four temperatures..... slow, medium, hot, and very hot. For a 12-inch oven, slow will have 1-ring on top, and 1 ring under the pot and be 300 +/- 25 degrees F. Medium is 1-ring under and 1-1/2 rings on top and is 350 +/- 25 degrees F. A hot oven is 1-ring under and 2-rings on top and is 400 +/- 25 degrees F, and very hot is 1 ring under and 2-1/2 rings on top and is 450 to 500 degrees F or so.
Notice with this method that you never change the number of rings under the pot. The exception is for frying or boiling, where I start with a full spread under the pot, and cook with the lid on with a few coals on top just to keep the heat in. Once it is frying or boiling briskly, take a few coals out from under the pot until it is cooking properly. Add some back if it slows down too much. The above directions were given for a 12-inch pot. For larger pots, you will need more charcoal on top to maintain the indicated temperatures, and less charcoal on smaller pots. Temperature is controlled partly by how much (percentage) of the lid is covered with charcoal. A 10-inch pot with 2 rings on top will be considerably hotter than a 14-inch pot with 2 rings on top. This is because two rings on top of a 10-inch oven covers a lot more of the lid (percentage wise) than two rings on a 14-inch pot. You will quickly learn to adjust the absolute amount of charcoal for different size pots. Hint: 1 ring under a 10-inch pot will have three pieces of freshly lit charcoal between each leg. A 12-inch pot will have four between each leg, a 14-inch pot will have five, and yes, an 8-inch will have two. I honestly don't know how many pieces of charcoal make up the rings on the lids, as I have never counted them.
If you absolutely must know what temperature is in the oven with a certain amount of charcoal, then get an oven thermometer and find out, but that takes all the fun out of it. Learn to "feel" how much charcoal is right for a particular dish. I don't mean feel with your hands, but feel with your eyes. Look inside the pot to see if your food is simmering or baking properly or browning properly, etc, and add or take away charcoal as needed.
Start a personal cookbook, and keep track of recipes, including how much charcoal you used, how long you cooked it, and whether it was done correctly. The final answer is to practice, and keep records. You will rapidly learn how much charcoal it takes to make your pot do what you want it to. My motto is to err on the hot side, as it is really hard to burn something in these pots, except as follows. Most Dutch oven cookbooks (there are more than 35 in print) tell you to arrange the charcoal in a checkerboard pattern both on the lid and under the oven. I have only a small problem with the lid arrangement, but I have a HUGE problem with that arrangement under the pot. YOU WILL BURN THINGS WITH A CHECKERBOARD PATTERN UNDER A POT! Charcoal radiates heat in all directions. Those that are under the outside edge of the pot will radiate heat not only up towards the pot, but in towards the center under the pot. ALL of the coals around the edge will add to the temperature under the center of the pot. If you also have charcoal under the center of the pot, as in a checkerboard pattern, the center will be much hotter than the outside edge, and the center of baked foods will frequently burn. Many experienced Dutch oven cooks still swear by the "tried and true" method of checkerboard patterns, and they cook successfully. I have found that the ring method is more forgiving for beginners. By the way, freshly lit charcoal will burn for about an hour when placed on/under a pot, unless it is very windy. When windy, it burns faster, and "blows" the heat down-wind. When windy, turn the pot 180 degrees 2 or 3 times while cooking to even out this effect.
GETTING STARTED COOKING
Find a level dirt, concrete, or metal surface upon which you can place hot charcoal. Light some charcoal. When the charcoal is well lit, make a ring of it the size of your pot as described earlier. Place the pot over the ring and adjust the charcoal as necessary to line it up with the outside edge of the pot. Place the lid on the pot and add the proper number of rings of hot charcoal onto it. The food to be cooked will either already be in the pot, or will be placed in the pot after the pot warms up. Most recipes assume starting with a cold pot. The first thing that you try to cook in a Dutch Oven should be ready-made biscuits from the store. Use the ones that are a fresh dough in a round tube and are refrigerated.
Buy enough to fill the bottom of your oven, as they will cook better. After the biscuits are in the well oiled oven, place enough hot charcoal on the lid and under the pot to get to "hot" temperatures (see above). It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to reach cooking temperature, and only about 10 - 15 more minutes to finish cooking the biscuits. Peek at them frequently (once per minute) after they have been on the coals for 20 minutes, but only remove the lid for 2 or 3 seconds or you will lose the heat and they will take longer. The biscuits are done when they are golden brown on top. I'll bet that they will be golden brown on the bottom too and not burned. If you try this once out camping on a crisp fall morning, and have some butter and strawberry jam available, I guarantee that you will be hooked into black pot cooking forever.
MEASUREMENTS AND RECIPES
On the following pages are some recipes to get you started. Do not hesitate to use recipes directly out of REGULAR cookbooks, as long as you remember that Dutch ovens don't let much water evaporate during cooking. You will learn how to adjust the liquid content (water, milk, eggs, etc) in recipes to allow for this. If it is too wet when it is done, note this in your recipe book and adjust for it the next time.
Lodge manufactures ovens in the following sizes, where the numbers indicate the diameter of the pot in inches: 5, 8, 10, 12, 12 deep, 14, 14 deep, and 16. The deep ovens are about 2 inches deeper than the regular ones. The three most common sizes used are the 10, 12, and 14. You periodically may need to convert a recipe from say a 10-inch oven to a 12 or 14, or visa-versa. The nominal capacities of these three ovens are 4, 6, and 8 quarts respectively. Note that a 14 holds twice as much as a 10. You can double or halve a recipe to convert between them. A 12 falls half way between them, so to convert from a 10 to a 12, multiply the amount of each ingredient in the recipe by 1-1/2 (1.5) but do not change the cooking time. To go from a 14 to a 12 or from a 12 to a 10, multiply the ingredients by 2/3 (0.67). By the way, any recipe that calls for cooking in a 9x13 cake or casserole dish will fit fine into a 12-inch oven. A lot of cake mixes call for a 9x13 pan. In addition to the recipes that follow, I have listed below some menu suggestions for cooking for large groups like scouts or hunting parties.
Tuna casserole. Cook some macaroni in a big pot or Dutch oven and add it to the fixin's for the casserole in a 14" oven, and cook slow until all bubbly.
Chicken and rice or noodles. Make rice in a 14" oven (or noodles) and creamed chicken in another Dutch oven, and combine.
Chili. Cooks wonderfully in a Dutch oven without burning and with little stirring . Hard on oven's seasoning.
Stews of course. It does not need to be stirred, and it doesn't burn, if the thickening agent is added at the last minute.
Breakfast casseroles of potatoes, bacon or sausage, onions, and eggs all baked together in a 14" oven.
Cobblers and/or dump cakes. Couldn't be easier, and couldn't be better.
Baked beans. Easy recipe, and foolproof. Hard on oven.
Hot cooked cereals for breakfast.
Soups for those cold day lunches.
Cornbread in 20 minutes to serve 16 in a 14" oven. Make two. Great for breakfast.
Biscuits. Cook in 20-25 minutes from a cold start. Serve with breakfast casserole, or gravy.
Fried chicken. Cooks fast with the lid on and doesn't splatter.
No fail gravy. Biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast!
When you become proficient with Dutch ovens, there isn't anything you can't cook in one. Sandy and I cooked our complete Thanksgiving dinner last year in several Dutch ovens, including yeast rolls, candied yams, steamed veggies, dessert, and a 13 pound turkey with stuffing in it. The turkey was beautifully browned, was very juicy, and cooked in 2- 1/2 hours. We hope this booklet gets you started on the right foot. Bon Appetite!
Sift into bowl and thoroughly mix together:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut/rub in 1/2 cup solid Crisco butter flavored shortening. Stir in with a fork, 2/3 cup milk. Do not try to get all the ingredients evenly mixed, as this requires too much stirring and will make tough biscuits. Knead 3 times only, and pat the dough out 3/4 inches thick on a floured surface. Cut biscuits with a 2-1/2 inch cutter. Put 3 tablespoons of oil into a 10 inch oven. Place the biscuits into the oven, turning them once so both sides are oiled. Bake hot until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes from a cold start.
For fool-proof removal, line the oven with aluminum foil. Heat the oven to medium heat, and when hot, pour 2-3 tablespoons of oil into the center. Immediately pour the batter directly into the center of the oil. Bake at medium heat 20-30 minutes until top is golden brown or passes done test with a knife (knife inserted into center comes out clean). Turn out onto a towel, peel off foil, and using towel, turn back right side up.
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Recipe for a 14 inch oven. Cut in half for a 10 inch oven.
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup solid shortening
To the above, add with mixing:
1 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Pour batter into an oiled 14 inch oven and bake at medium heat 20-30 minutes, until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
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Recipe for a 12 inch pot.
4 - 15 oz cans red kidney beans
2 Bay leaves
1/2 lb smoked sausage
1/4 stick margarine
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbls Worcestershire
3 stems celery, chopped
Tobasco to taste
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
pepper to taste
1 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
1 Tbls chopped parsley
Mash about 1/2 can of the beans with a fork and recombine with the rest. Add all ingredients to an oiled 12 inch pot, and simmer at medium heat for 1 to 2 hours. Serve over rice. Clean pot quickly when done.
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It is highly recommended that you use Uncle Ben's Long Grain Rice. Rinse the rice with cold water several times until the rinse water is no longer milky (removes surface starch which causes rice to stick together). Put rinsed, drained but not dried, rice into an oiled oven with exactly these proportions of rice and water: 1-3/4 cups water for each cup rice (measured dry). Cook at medium heat without stirring until all water is absorbed... about an hour.
Recommended maximum amount of raw rice to put into various size pots: 10"... 3-1/2 cups. 12"...5 cups. 14"...7 cups. 14" deep...12 cups.
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Fits in a 10-inch pot but does better in a 12-inch.
2 - 16oz cans pork 'n beans
1 med onion, diced
1/4 lb bacon, cooked
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbls S&W Mesquite Sauce
Rinse off and discard all liquid from the pork'n beans and let drain well. Combine all ingredients and put into an oiled oven, and cook at medium heat for an hour, until bubbly, with occasional stirring. Clean pot quickly when done.
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Pineapple Upside-down Cake
Melt about 1 Tbls butter in the bottom of an aluminum foil lined 14" oven. Place canned pineapple slices on the bottom of the pan without overlapping them. Over the pineapple slices sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of pecans. Mix up 2 yellow box cake mixes and pour over the top, and bake at medium heat until cake is done, about 25 minutes. While still fairly hot, put a large platter or board over the oven and quickly invert it so the cake will fall out. Peel off the aluminum foil and enjoy. The cake is far more messy, but also far better, if you add a can of crushed pineapple to the pot just before you put the cake batter in.
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A Better Quick Fruit Cobbler
The following is for a 12-inch oven. This recipe can be used for just about any fruit, fresh or canned. Modify the amount of liquid, spices, etc for best results with fresh fruits.
2 cans (29 ounce cans) fruit with half the juice (sliced peaches in heavy syrup is my favorite).
2 cups each of: flour, sugar, milk
4 tsp baking powder
2 dashes salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
˝ cup cinnamon sugar (2 Tbls cinnamon, rest sugar)
Preheat oven to "hot". Combine the flour, sugar, milk, baking powder, and salt and mix to a smooth batter. Add the butter to the hot oven. When melted, pour the batter in, even distributed in the butter (but don't stir). Carefully add the peaches and half the juice that was in the two cans, but DO NOT STIR IT. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of the peaches. Bake for a FULL 35 minutes, turning the pot twice ( it will look done far before it is done.) Let it cool 30 minutes before eating. Note: it is important to have the oven level to cook this dish.
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Combine the following in a 12-inch oiled oven and cook at medium heat for 45-55 minutes.
2 large whole chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, separated into rings
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small can sliced ripe olives, drained
3 cans tomato bisque soup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 dashes Tobasco sauce
Serve over rice. A quadruple recipe fits in a 14-inch deep pot, and will serve 25-30 people when served with a 14-inch deep pot full of rice.
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Spaghetti for 30 People
This is the best spaghetti sauce I have ever tasted. It is my wife's original recipe. It fits into two 14-inch deep pots. It is the right amount of sauce with 10 lbs of cooked spaghetti (I cook that in a 9 gallon pot over a propane burner.)
6 pounds ground chuck
2 med onions, chopped
6 pounds Italian sausage, in casings
10 Tbls chopped, dried parsley
4 13.5 oz cans mushroom pieces, drained
4 Tbls sweet basil
8 29 oz cans tomato sauce
1 jar (0.62 ounce) Italian seasoning
6 12 oz cans tomato paste
4 Tbls salt
4 16 oz cans stewed tomatoes, drained, discard juice
4 Tbls seasoned pepper
4 green bell peppers, chopped
4 Tbls sugar
2 Tbls fennel seeds
4 Tbls minced garlic
Completely cook ground chuck (or hamburger) to crumbly texture and drain the grease, reserving 1 tablespoon. Remove meat to a bowl. Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces, and cook until completely done. Remove cooked meat to a bowl, add the onions and green pepper to the pot and sauté in the reserved grease until onions are translucent. Clean pots to the extent that there are no chunks of meat stuck to the bottom. Oil the pots and pour 1 can of tomato sauce into the bottom of each pot. In a very large bowl, combine all the ingredients except 4 cans of the tomato sauce, mixing well. Divide the mixed sauce evenly between the two pots, and then add the remaining cans of tomato sauce, two cans to each pot, without stirring. Cook at medium heat without stirring until the sauce is actively simmering. Then cook at slow to medium simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Clean sauce out of the pots immediately when done cooking.
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Chicken in any recipe cooks wonderfully in Dutch ovens. The meat cooks fast, and stays juicy. You can easily bake a whole chicken in a standard (as opposed to deep) oven if you cut it as follows. With a good pair of poultry shears, cut completely down each side of the backbone of the chicken and remove it. With the shears, cut the wishbone in the front near the neck, and the bird will butterfly out flat (skin side up) in the bottom of a 12 or 14-inch oven. Place it on a round rack to keep it from boiling in the juices. Cornish hens cook as is in the shallow ovens and are delicious! Bake at medium heat for an hour, or until the juices run clear.
Did you notice in the above recipes that all but the biscuits were cooked with medium heat? I cook 95 percent of the things that I cook in a 12-inch oven with 1 ring under the pot and 1 1/2 rings on the lid. If you are unsure, start there and take notes for the next time. I have been known to add a lot of charcoal to a lid for 1 to 2 minutes to brown off a dish at the end, but be careful or you'll burn the top of things.
We hope that this booklet gets you started with happy experiences in Dutch oven cooking without too much frustration. It really is easy to cook in Dutch ovens. Just jump in and experiment! My only further advice is to keep detailed notes for a while, and then review them to find ways to improve.
Best regards, Duane and Sandy Dinwiddie.
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If you would like to contact Sandy and Duane please send them an email to: "dsdin at swbell dot net". after you format this as a standard email address.