Cooking food in a Dutch oven with charcoal allows you to prepare many of your favourite recipes while camping. Nearly any recipe baked in a standard oven can be modified for use in a Dutch oven with a little trial and error. Sandwiching the Dutch oven between layers of charcoal instead of cooking food directly over an open flame helps to regulate the cooking temperature and cook your food evenly without burnt or undercooked areas in the dish.
Just in case anyone is unclear, here is a photo of a camping Dutch Oven. Note the rim on the lid. This is to keep coals/briquettes/wood in place. These differ from your regular kitchen dutch oven in that they have both feet and that most important feature, a rim to contain your top coals/wood. Here are some tips for cooking in your dutch oven –
- Start a campfire with wood in a safe area.
- Pour approximately 1/2 bag of charcoal alongside the campfire. The goal is to create a hot, flat bed of coals, so arrange the charcoal close enough to the fire that it will ignite, but not directly on top of the wood. Use a metal rake to arrange the charcoal if necessary.
- Wait until the charcoal turns an ashy gray color. This indicates that it is hot enough to use for Dutch oven cooking.
- Place all of the ingredients for your recipe, per the recipe instructions, into a Dutch oven.
- Secure the lid on the Dutch oven and make sure that it fits tightly; a loose lid could allow ash to leak into the Dutch oven and ruin your dish.
- Place the Dutch oven directly on the bed of hot charcoal.
- Pick up several pieces of charcoal from around the Dutch oven with tongs and place them on the lid of the Dutch oven, as per recipe instructions.
- Leave the Dutch oven on the hot coals until the food is finished cooking. Use the cooking time indicated in your original recipe as a rough guide to determine when the food will be done.
- Remove the coals from the top of the Dutch oven with tongs and brush away any remaining ash with a hand broom or heavy potholder.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the bed of hot coals using heavy potholders to prevent burns.
WARNING – The entire Dutch oven, including the lid and handles, becomes extremely hot during the cooking process. To avoid burns, do not touch the Dutch oven with your bare hands unless you are sure that it is completely cool.
Here’s the first in a series of Dutch Oven recipes we’ll share with you –
Dutch Oven Breakfast
- Brown 1.5 pounds of Italian Sausage, remove the excess grease.
- Return the sausage to the bottom of the pan, add 4-5 medium sliced potatoes, 1 cup of celery, 1 medium chopped onion, dill, salt, pepper, sometimes broccoli or cauliflower, asparagus, whatever you have on hand.
- Cover all this with 10 eggs.
- Cook over 11 coals for 1 hour adding coals to the lid of the oven about 40 minutes into the hour.
- At this time, I add 2 cups of cheese, usually cheddar, sometimes, ricotta, whatever I have on hand and cook for the remaining 20 minutes. FEEDS 8