Outdoor Dutch Oven Cooking

Desert Lil's Delicacies - A DesertUSA Food Feature


The Dutch Oven is a traditional means of creating tasty camp-out feasts -- especially among boy scouts and other outdoor groups -- with only one cooking vessel. The all-purpose Dutch Oven performs all cooking tasks -- roasting, baking simmering, stewing, frying, boiling and steaming. Anything you cook in a regular oven or on the stove can be cooked in an the versatile Dutch Oven, from bread & biscuits, pies and cakes, stews, chilies & soups to deserts of all kinds.

Most Dutch Ovens are a cast-iron pot 10 to 12 inches wide and a few inches high that sits on hot charcoals in a campfire. (Lighter aluminum Dutch Ovens is available but not recommended.) Three-legged Dutch Ovens are the preferred design, allowing them to perch easily over the coals.

When using charcoal briquettes, heat is controlled by placing 1 briquette under the pot for every 25 degrees of heat required by the recipe. Coals are sometimes placed on the lid as well, which can also be used as a skillet or griddle when placed upside down on the fire or stove. For easy cleanup, the bottom and the sides of Dutch Ovens are often lined with aluminum foil.

Whether baking or boiling, a Dutch Oven is always used with the lid on to prevent ashes from falling into the food. Cooking gloves or hot-pot tongs are always used when removing the lid or handle any part of the hot oven. A wooden or bamboo spoon is best for stirring.

A Dutch Oven won't rust if it is correctly "seasoned" with oil before use and properly maintained and kept dry. Never scrub Dutch Ovens (or any other cast iron appliance with soap. Store Dutch Ovens in a warm, dry place with the lid cracked so air can circulate. While appearing to be indestructible, Dutch Ovens can shatter if dropped on a hard surface, or crack if cold water is poured into them when too hot.

Dutch Oven Roasting
The heat source comes from the top and bottom equally. This requires twice as many coals on top as on the bottom.

Dutch Oven Baking
Performed with more heat from the top than the bottom. Place 3 times as many coals on the lid.

Dutch Oven Boiling, Frying, Stewing, Simmering
All of the heat comes from the bottom. All coals are placed beneath the Dutch Oven.

Cornbread & Black Bean Chile
Serves 6

  • 1 lb lean ground or finely chopped beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell or Anaheim pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 12 oz can V8
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes
  • 1 4oz can whole green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat Dutch Oven to 400 degrees. Brown meat, then add onion and peppers, cooking 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Combine cornbread ingredients in bowl or baggie

  • 1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix.
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Place cornbread batter on top of chili, replace the lid and bake at 400 degrees until brown on top (appx. 30 minutes).

Sirloin Hawaiian
Serves 4

  • 1 lb sirloin steak
  • 1 tsp pepper oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 med onion, chopped large
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 red pepper, chopped large
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat Dutch Oven to 300 degress. Cut steak into 1/4" strips and sprinkle with garlic powder. Add oil, then steak to oven and fry for 5 minutes, stirring. Add onion, pepper, mushrooms and soy sauce. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Add water and rice, bring to boil, add water chestnuts, cover and simmer at about 200 degrees for 1/2 hour, until rice is soft. Stir in pineapple, and serve sprinkled with coconut.

Cwick Camp Cobbler
Serves 6

  • 1 pkg yellow or white cake mix
  • 1 can fruit cocktail
  • 1 can cherry pie filling (or other fruit filling)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick Butter

Preheat Dutch Oven to 400 degrees. Pour cans of fruit into bottom of Dutch Oven. Sprinkle cake mix over top of fruit, DO NOT STIR! Sprinkle with cinnamon and drop cut pads of butter on surface. DO NOT STIR. Cover and bake until bubbly and top is lightly browned, about 30-45 min.

Complete Index of Desert Lil's Delicacies



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