How To Cook in a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are a wonderful addition to any chefs kitchen, whether it is indoors or out. Anything that can be cooked in your oven can be made in a dutch oven. Whether you want to slow simmer a stew or chili, make a bbq brisket, or bake a loaf of bread, a good dutch oven will handle the job. You can buy beautiful, colorful dutch ovens, but for outdoor campfire or charcoal briquette cooking, you will need a heavy cast iron dutch oven, on legs, with a well fitting lid.
Many cooks prefer to cook over an open campfire, but we prefer the briquette method. This allows us to control the heat better while conserving fuel.
Start by lighting the charcoal and letting it burn down until it is covered with a light gray ash. For tips on how to light the briquettes, read more here.
When the briquettes are lightly covered with ash, arrange a bottom layer of briquettes in a circle. Place the Dutch Oven (with the food) over the briquettes. Place the lid on top, if it isn’t already there. On the lid, arrange another circle of briquettes.
Determining How Many Briquettes To Use
Depending on what you are cooking, the temperature of the oven can be controlled by the number of briquettes you use. The size of the Dutch Oven will dictate how many briquettes are needed to reach and maintain the temperature. Roughly, you will need twice as many briquettes as the diameter of the oven.
For a temperature of 350º in a 10″ Dutch Oven
10″ oven x 2 = 20 briquettes, divide the number in half for top and bottom heat
For the bottom, subtract 2 ( 10 briquettes – 2 = 8 briquettes on the bottom)
For the top, add 2 (10 briquettes + 2 = 10 briquettes on the top)
If you want less heat, remove a briquette. If you want more heat, add another briquette. You will learn to get a “feel” or sixth sense about the temperature. But if the oven is not quite as hot as you like, you can always cook the food longer. But if the oven is too hot, you cannot un-cook the food.
Placing the briquettes in a circle under the Dutch Oven allows for an even consistent heat. Be sure the briquettes are all the way under so that the heat does not go up the sides and heat unevenly.
Once the Dutch Oven is started, it will need to be tended and watched. Every 15 minutes, turn the Dutch Oven 1/4 around and turn the lid 1/4 around in the opposite direction. If you are cooking something that will take a long time, you will eventually need to add new hot briquettes to keep the oven cooking.
For Dutch oven recipes, read more here