Dutch Oven Cooking


From Byron’s Dutch Oven Cooking:

 Regulating Oven Cooking Temperature
Regulating cooking temperature is by far the hardest thing to master when learning to cook in a Dutch oven. Hopefully the few tips I have to offer will help you out.
First and foremost, always use high quality briquettes. I recommend using Kingsford charcoal. Kingsford is packed tighter than most other brands so it won’t pop and spit, and it tends to burn longer than other brands. Avoid using “Match Light” charcoal as it burns hot so it doesn’t last as long. Kingsford charcoal will generate good heat for about an hours time. For recipes that take more than an hour to cook, after an hour remove the remaining briquettes and ash from the oven and replenish them with new briquettes. Note: because the Dutch oven is already hot, you will not need as many briquettes as when you started cooking. I usually remove 2-3 briquettes from the top and bottom the first time I replenish them.
The general rule of thumb to produce about a 350° heat is to take the size of the Dutch oven in inches, double the number, and use that many total briquettes. So, for a 12″ oven you would use 24 briquettes, for a 14″ oven you would use 28 briquettes, etc..Remember this is just a rule of thumb and does not work for all makes of ovens! This rule for instance does not work when cooking with MACA deep Dutch ovens because they are much deeper and they are manufactured with more metal. This will be better explained below.
Lodge Cast Iron Mfg. has recently put out a baking temperature chart for use with their ovens listing the total number of briquettes necessary to bring an oven to different temperatures. You can download a copy of the document here.
Generally speaking each briquette will produce about 10° – 15° F. worth of heat on a moderately warm day with no wind. However, do not use these numbers to try and formulate how many briquettes you should use to generate internal oven temperatures. Instead, use the general rule of thumb to calculate the number of briquettes to reach 350° F. and then add or subtract briquettes to reach the temperature you desire. Why shouldn’t you use the heat values to determine temperature? The answer is, other factors such as the amount of metal used to manufacture the oven, the size of the oven (volume), and the amount of free airspace inside the oven affect the final internal temperature the oven will reach when using a set number of briquettes. The more metal, volume of food, and internal air space you have to heat up, the more heat will be required to bring your oven to the desired temperature.
Other factors such as ambient air temperature, humidity, altitude, and wind all influence how much heat is generated by burning briquettes. Cool air temperatures, high altitudes, shade, and high humidity will decrease the amount of heat generated by briquettes.Hot air temperatures, low altitude, direct sunlight, and wind will increase the amount of heat generated by briquettes. Also note that in windy conditions briquettes will burn faster due to the increased air flow around them, so they will not last as long.
Heat placement around the Dutch oven is crucial to yield the best cooking results. Briquettes placed under the oven should be arranged in a circular pattern no less than 1/2″ from the outside edge of the oven. Briquettes placed on the lid should be spread out in acheckerboard pattern. Try to avoid bunching the briquettes as this causes hot spots.
The number one question I am asked is “How many briquettes should I put on the lid and how many should go underneath the oven?”. The answer is “It depends on what you are cooking”.
For food you wish to simmer such as soups, stews, and chili’s; place 1/3 of the total briquettes on the lid and 2/3 under the oven.
For food you wish to bake such as breads and rolls, biscuits, cakes, pies and cobblers (rising); place 2/3 of the total briquettes on the lid and 1/3 underneath the oven.
For food you wish to roast such as meats, poultry, casseroles, quiche, vegetables, and cobblers (non-rising); use an even distribution of briquettes on the lid and underneath the oven.
The golden rule of Dutch oven cooking is “go easy with the heat”. If the oven isn’t hot enough you can always add more briquettes, but once food is burned, it’s burned.

Breakfast Pizza
(Submitted by Page Davies)

1 can crescent rolls 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 lb. sausage; browned & drained 3 eggs; beaten
3 Tbs. diced red bell pepper 3 Tbs. milk
3 Tbs. diced yellow bell pepper 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup thawed frozen hash browns 1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 green onion; sliced 3 Tbs. parmesan cheese

Unroll the crescent rolls. Line the bottom of a 12″ Dutch oven with a layer of flattened crescent rolls. Sprinkle evenly with sausage, bell peppers, hash browns, green onion, and cheddar cheese. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over top of pizza. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover and bake using 8-10 briquettes bottom and 12-14 briquettes top for 20-30 minutes until eggs are set.
Serves: 6-8
Chocolate Lovers Delight

1 1/2 cup water 1 (10 oz.) bag miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup cocoa powder 1 chocolate cake mix; prepared as directed
1 cup light brown sugar 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line the bottom and sides of a 12″ Dutch oven with heavy foil. Mix the water, cocoa powder, and brown sugar together and pour into the Dutch oven. Add marshmallows and spread them out evenly. Pour prepared chocolate cake mix over marshmallows. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cake batter.
Cover oven and bake using 8-10 briquettes bottom and 14-16 briquettes top for 60 minutes.
Serve warm with whipped cream.
Serves: 10-12

Blackberry Cobbler

1 stick butter 4 cups fresh blackberries or 2 bags frozen (thawed)
2 cups flour 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups sugar 1 1/2 tsp. fresh grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. baking powder 1/4 cup water
1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cup milk    

Melt butter in a 12″ Dutch oven using 10-12 briquettes bottom heat.
Wash fresh blackberries and drain. In a large bowl combine blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, and water; stir to coat blackberries. Let rest.
In a separate bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir to mix. Add milk and beat until batter is smooth. Pour batter over melted butter — do not stir. Carefully spoon blackberries over top of the batter — do not stir. Sprinkle cinnamon over top.
Cover and bake using 10-12 briquettes bottom and 18-20 briquettes top for 45 to 60 minutes rotating the oven and lid 1/4 turn in opposite directions every 10 minutes until crust is golden brown.
Serve topped with whipped cream or serve with vanilla ice cream.
Serves: 10

French Toast Bake
½ Loaf French Bread-sliced ½ cup Brown Sugar 1 Carton Eggs Beaters
½ t Cinnamom ½ stick Butter ½ cup Pecans
Mix eggs with cinnamon and soak bread. Cube butter and put in bottom of Dutch oven. Add ½ pecans and ½ of the brown sugar. Add bread in layers. Top with the rest of the brown sugar and the pecans. Cover and bake using 8-10 briquettes bottom and 12-14 briquettes top for 20-30 minutes then check, continue to cook until eggs are set. Make about 6 servings.


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