Dutch oven cooking is rapidly approaching the status of national past time, as more campers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and outdoor cooking enthusiasts realize the benefits to cooking outdoors with cast iron cookware.
Dutch ovens are categorized as either "kitchen" or "camp" style. You can use a kitchen style Dutch oven for outdoor cooking, either on a propane burner or hung from a tripod, however for cooking on charcoal or over burning embers from your campfire, we recommend purchasing a camp style Dutch oven by Lodge. A camp Dutch oven is preferably made of cast iron, has a smooth bottom, but with three short legs for raising it above the heat source. The lid is not as rounded as a kitchen oven, and has a flange for keeping charcoal on top.
Lodge is the recommended cookware of Dutch oven cooking enthusiasts worldwide. Lodge Manufacturing, located in South Pittsburg, Tennessee has perfected the sand casting process of making quality cast iron skillets, kettles, and Dutch ovens that were imported from Europe 300 years ago and sold to American colonists by English, Dutch, and German traders.
George Washington fed his army from Dutch ovens. Paul Revere is credited for developing the flanged lid. Lewis and Clark carried Dutch ovens as they explored and mapped the West, and Dutch ovens were used by "forty-niners" for baking sourdough bread during the California goldrush.
Dutch ovens by Lodge have a smooth interior, especially important at the lid seal area, and are unifromly casted with tight quality controls. Casted tangs hold the heavy duty wire bails, making turning, and hanging, a breeze.
Almost any conventional recipe can be adapted to Dutch oven cooking. Water retention is higher in a closed Dutch oven, and working with charcoal is a bit more difficult than setting and controlling your stove heat, but after a few experiments, and our guide to heat control, you'll be baking, roasting, frying, and stewing outdoors, all the while retaining all the wonderful flavors of outdoor cooking.
Lodge Camp Dutch Ovens
You'll be happy with your decision to buy Lodge. Cast iron cookware by Lodge cooks evenly, with no hot spots, is virtually indestructible, and can be as stickless as the fanciest of non-stick cookware, including stainless, copper, and aluminum at three times the cost. Lodge makes cast iron cookware using a highly refined sand casting process, and produces the finest cast iron cookware on the market. A Lodge Dutch oven has a hinged bail made of heavy gauge wire which is securely attached to molded tangs on the side of the oven and a loop handle that is attached to the lid allowing it to be easily hooked. The lids of camp style ovens are flanged, keeping the coals from sliding off of the lid and can be lifted while fully loaded with ash and coals. Lodge oven legs are an integral part of the oven, built to survive the wear and tear on your camping equipment. Finally, the lid of your Lodge camp oven can be used upside down as a griddle or a skillet.
You must follow the manufacturer's instructions to season your cookware, whether a skillet, fryer, or Dutch oven. Included in your purchase are explicit instructions for seasoning cast iron cookware, but please visit Lodge's recommended cast iron seasoning instructions for a preview.
It is recommended that you cook foods with high fat and grease content the first few times to expedite seasoning. This would include cooking bacon, sausage, hamburger, or deep frying potatoes, chicken, etc. Soups, stews, and beans (foods with high moisture and acid content) have a tendency to remove seasoning from a cast iron utensil and you'll want to avoid cooking those at first, or at least be aware that your utensil may have to be re-seasoned. After regular use, clean and oil lightly while warm, then wipe dry with a paper towel or soft cloth before storing. Your ironware will darken with use and improve with age. A well used piece of ironware will develop a patina that truly is the ultimate in non-stick cookware.
A few tools are necessary including one or more camp style Dutch ovens, heavy duty leather gloves, and long metal tongs to lift hot coals. A lid lifter and lid stand make handling your oven that much safer. We also like to use a "chimney" charcoal starter, after five minutes fueled by one sheet of newspaper, you'll have at least 25 pieces of even burning charcoal ember. It is also a good idea to use aluminum foil, or a metal sheet, to put on top of your cooking surface underneath the briquettes. (Note: Do not use near flammable surfaces.) The lid of a 55 gallon drum or a metal trash can top turned upside down make good burning surfaces, as will your charcoal grill stand. Aluminum foil makes cleanup easy.
To calculate the number of charcoal briquets you'll need to prepare your outdoor masterpiece, as a rule of thumb, for average menus and environmental conditions, use an equal number of briquettes as the diameter of your oven, on top and on bottom, plus or minus three favoring the top over the bottom.
Here's your start up equation: Charcoals on top = Diameter + 3, Charcoals on Bottom = Diameter - 3 for a 325º F oven
Each charcoal briquette contributes 10-15 degrees of cooking heat for about 50 minutes to one hour. (To cook at 350º F you'll need to add one coal on the top and one coal on the bottom, for example.)
Now allow for wind conditions, altitude, humidity, and ambient temperature. (Here's where the finesse begins.) To avoid hot spots, get in the habit of rotating your oven 1/4 turn and then rotate the lid 1/4 turn in the opposite direction. Rotate every 10-15 minutes.
To use your oven for frying or boiling water, use all your coals underneath. For simmering or stewing use an even amount of charcoal top and bottom, but two thirds of the way into cooking the recipe, eliminate the the bottom charcoals, replacing them on top, if necessary to maintain a steady heat source. For baking, we recommend a ring of 1/3 of your coals on the bottom, and a ring of the remainder on the top, both rings along the edges of your oven. Remove baked items such as cakes, pies, and breads from your heat source and remove the lid as soon as they begin to firm up.
Note: Never place a empty cast iron utensil on a heat source or pour a cold liquid into it, it may crack.
We offer all three sizes of Lodge manufactured kitchen style Dutch ovens, a roaster, and a smaller 2 quart bean pot. The 5 quart Dutch oven we take camping - it's a handy pot for warming up leftovers on a propane grill. Larger Dutch ovens are favorites for roasting chicken, or making large batches of gumbo, chili, or stew. Some of our better customers are fire departments, where meals are prepared for many and left on the stove to simmer. Depending upon the frequency of use at home or on the trail, a kitchen style Dutch oven may be the right choice for you.
Or your inclination may be to use a camp oven right in your own backyard, it makes cooking outdoors all that more enjoyable, and flavorable. But don't limit your backyard or camp cooking to Dutch ovens and skillets. Chicken fryers, as well as bean pots, and deep fat fryers can be handy too. At home, for grilling, we use a Lodge hibatchi style grill, and we carry it with us camping. A Lodge grill grate on top of your charcoal cooker, or a public barbeque grill, or even on an open fire, is great for cooking hot dogs and hamburgers, and for really searing in the juices of barbequed meats. A grill pan with raised cast iron ribs, can also be used to mark your steaks, chops, or fish. Your roaster serves double duty at camp or at home and the lid alternates as a griddle.
Dutch Oven Recipes
There are many recipes on the web for outdoor cooking with camp style Dutch ovens. What we have tried to provide on our recipes page are recipes for everyone, including home and camp cooks, to use with a variety of cast iron cookware. Explore our cookbooks and online sources for added returns.
To Purchase Lodge Cast Iron Cookware please visit our sites at:
The Iron Skillet - http://www.castironcookware.com and
DutchOvenCookware.com - http://www.dutchovencookware.com