Dutch Oven Cooking The Easy Way
A Dutch oven is a must for delicious camp-out feasts! Just about anything you cook in a regular oven can be created in a Dutch oven If you haven’t already you need to follow the instructions to season your Dutch oven.
Start by washing the Dutch oven with mild soapy water, rinse, and dry completely. Grease inside and out (pot, legs, and lid) lightly with a good grade of olive oil, vegetable oil, or shortening like Crisco. Do not use a spray in coating, but rather use an oil soaked paper towel or new sponge You can then place in a 300-350 degree oven for at least 1 hour. I prefer to do this on an outside grill to avoid the stink in the house – and trust me it will stink. Once your Dutch oven is seasoned it should never be scrubbed with soap. Store the oven in a warm, dry place with the lid cracked so air can circulate inside.
Cooking Tips: For easy cleanup, line the bottom and the sides of the Dutch oven with aluminum foil. Use a wooden spoon to stir, and always cook with the lid on. A Dutch oven will last you for years care should be taken to make sure it lasts. They will shatter if dropped on hard cement and never pour very cold water into an empty hot pot or you may cause permanent damage to the oven by cracking it.
Heat control the most important thing to master when learning to cook with a Dutch oven. Charcoal briquettes provide a long lasting, even heat source and are easier to use than wood coals but either can be used. Briquettes will last for about an hour and will need to be renewed if longer cooking times are needed. Rule of thumb: Each briquette adds between 10 & 20 degrees. Different types of cooking requires different placement of the briquettes. Here are a few general rules for briquette placement:
For Roasting: The heat source comes from the top and bottom equally. This requires twice as many coals on top as on the bottom.
For Baking: The heat source comes from the top more than the bottom. Place 3 times as many coals on the lid.
For Boiling, Frying, Stewing, Simmering: All of the heat comes from the bottom. All coals are placed beneath the Dutch oven.
Place the required # of briquettes under the oven bottom in a circular pattern so they are at least 1/2″ inside the Dutch oven’s edge. Arrange briquettes on top in a checkerboard pattern. Do not bunch briquettes as they can cause hot spots. To prevent (minimize) hot spots during cooking, get in the habit to lift and rotate the entire oven 1/4 turn and then rotate just the lid ¼ turn in the opposite direction. Rotate every 10-15 minutes. If you use wood coals, remember that the flame will be much hotter than the coals. Avoid direct flames on the pot or turn frequently.
Here is a handy guide for the amount of charcoal briquettes needed for different sized Dutch ovens to reach a desired temperature level and most recipes you find will let you know how many also.
8 Inch Dutch Oven
325 degrees – 15 coals …OR… 10 on top / 5 on bottom
350 degrees – 16 coals …OR… 11 on top / 5 on bottom
375 degrees – 17 coals …OR… 11 on top / 6 on bottom
400 degrees – 18 coals …OR… 12 on top / 6 on bottom
425 degrees – 19 coals …OR… 13 on top / 6 on bottom
450 degrees – 20 coals …OR… 14 on top / 6 on bottom
10 Inch Dutch Oven
325 degrees – 19 coals …OR… 13 on top / 6 on bottom
350 degrees – 21 coals …OR… 14 on top / 7 on bottom
375 degrees – 23 coals …OR… 16 on top / 7 on bottom
400 degrees – 25 coals …OR… 17 on top / 8 on bottom
425 degrees – 27 coals …OR… 18 on top / 9 on bottom
450 degrees – 29 coals …OR… 19 on top / 10 on bottom
12 Inch Dutch Oven
325 degrees – 23 coals …OR… 16 on top / 7 on bottom
350 degrees – 25 coals …OR… 17 on top / 8 on bottom
375 degrees – 27 coals …OR… 18 on top / 9 on bottom
400 degrees – 29 coals …OR… 19 on top / 10 on bottom
425 degrees – 31 coals …OR… 21 on top / 10 on bottom
450 degrees – 33 coals …OR… 22 on top / 11 on bottom
14 Inch Dutch Oven
325 degrees – 30 coals …OR… 20 on top / 10 on bottom
350 degrees – 32 coals …OR… 21 on top / 11 on bottom
375 degrees – 34 coals …OR… 22 on top / 12 on bottom
400 degrees – 36 coals …OR… 24 on top / 12 on bottom
425 degrees – 38 coals …OR… 25 on top / 13 on bottom
450 degrees – 40 coals …OR… 26 on top / 14 on bottom
16 Inch Dutch Oven
325 degrees – 34 coals …OR… 22 on top / 12 on bottom
350 degrees – 36 coals …OR… 24 on top / 12 on bottom
375 degrees – 38 coals …OR… 25 on top / 13 on bottom
400 degrees – 40 coals …OR… 27 on top / 13 on bottom
425 degrees – 42 coals …OR… 28 on top / 14 on bottom
450 degrees – 44 coals …OR… 30 on top / 14 on bottom