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Dutch oven miracles ... from Utah.

Dutch oven cooking has survived from the days of the open hearth, and flourishes still. When Lewis and Clark made their pioneering trek to the Northwest in 1805, they listed the Dutch oven as one of their most valued pieces of equipment.

Today, river-runners, wilderness campers, and even home cooks echo the sentiment. On the enthusiastic forefront of Dutch oven cookery are Juanita and Mike Kohler, Pat and Wally Kohler, and Pat and Dick Michaud. Not only do they teach the cooking technique; since 1985, they've also run the Great American Dutch Oven Cook-off, which takes place at the Festival of the American West at Utah State University in Logan.

On these four pages, the six cooks share their expertise and a half-dozen of their Dutch oven specialties.

How did the Dutch get involved?

Some say the name stuck when Dutch traders sold this pan door-to-door, along with other black cast-iron ware, to early American colonists.

The classic cast-iron Dutch oven is very heavy (an empty 12-in. pan with lid weighs about 20 lb.) and very durable. Many a pot has seen more than a generation of service, and there are people who still own and use Dutch ovens that made the trip West by covered wagon.

Although the name Dutch oven applies to several devices in which food can be cooked, here it refers to a heavy pan made of cast iron, with three short metal legs and a bail (wire handle) as well as a tightfitting lid with a handle and a deep rim. The legs stand the pan over hot coals; the lipped lid holds more coals on top. Heat from both bottom and top creates an environment for baking or braising-as in a conventional oven.

Most Dutch ovens are 10 to 14 inches in diameter; smaller and larger ones exist.

How to set up a Dutch oven to cook

Use a double thickness of foil that is 3 to 4 inches wider than the Dutch oven's diameter (or use an old baking sheet you don't mind ruining with coals). Trace around lid in center of foil. (On baking sheet, draw outline with a felt-tip marker.)

Lay foil flat on a fire-safe, level surface in a draft-free spot. Or use a two- or threesided wind barricade that is a little higher than the pan and 4 to 6 inches away from its sides. (A three-sided folding metal splashguard or windguard, sold at hardware stores, costs about $3.)

About 30 minutes before you start cooking, ignite the appropriate number of charcoal briquets for the first phase of cooking (directions follow; or check recipes on pages 78 and 79). If you will need to add more fuel later, ignite those briquets 30 minutes before you need them.

For bottom cooking, arrange about 1/3 of the ignited coals (or the number specified by a recipe) on the foil, spacing them evenly and keeping the outermost coals about 1/2 inch inside the ring you have traced. If you have more coals than the ring accommodates, arrange remaining coals evenly within the circle. When baking batters or doughs, do not set a coal directly in the center or food may burn.

Set Dutch oven over coals.

For top cooking, arrange remaining coals evenly over the lid.

If air moves in spite of the wind barrier, rotate the Dutch oven 1/4 turn every 15 to 20 minutes so contents will cook evenly. Check foods periodically to determine if cooking rate is appropriate. To reduce heat, remove a few coals in a symmetrical pattern (so cooking continues evenly), keeping the number of coals removed proportional to original numbers under and on top of the oven. To increase heat, add ignited coals in the same fashion.

For fuel flexibility, you need 10 to 12 additional ignited coals; start these coals with the measured batch. To maintain heat, add more ignited coals as directed in fuel section, following; push coals equally under pan or place evenly on lid,

Ash accumulates as coals burn, which tends to block air circulation. With a poker or a stick, gently push soft ash (not coals) aside, or scoop from lid.

If the coals are still hot when food is done, and you want to keep the food warm a bit longer, remove all but 4 or 5 coals.

Enclose cool ash in the foil for disposal.

How much fuel, and how to use it

Uneven lumps of glowing wood coals were the original fuel for Dutch ovens, but today's long-burning, uniformly shaped 2inch charcoal briquets make heat regulation much more a science than an art.

First, count out the number of briquets you need for the kind of heat you want, and for the size of your Dutch oven.

You need moderate heat to simmer or bake foods, high heat to boil or saute.

For moderate heat, multiply diameter of Dutch oven by 2, and use that many coals.

For high heat, multiply diameter by 3 and use this number of coals. In most cases, 1/2 of the coals go under the pan; the rest are placed on the lid.

To maintain even heat to cook 50 minutes or longer, you need more hot coals. After the first 30 minutes, add freshly ignited coals, then add more at 20- to 30-minute intervals. Do not add coals the last 30 minutes of cooking. For moderate heat, add 4 or 5 coals each time. For high beat, add 8 to 10. Use the maximum number for large pans. Put 1/2 of the coals (or at least 2) under pan, the rest on the lid.

If you want food to brown more on top as cooking nears completion, place fteshly ignited coals on the lid.

Dutch oven tips

You need a place to set the coal-filled lid when you check the foods; use a sheet of foil or a baking sheet. It's easier to steady the lid and coals without spilling ash on the food or burning yourself if you use a Dutch oven lid-lifting tool (for details, write to Dutch Oven Report, Sunset Magazine, 80 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, Calif. 94025). Or use a fireplace poker or long tongs that brace the lid as you lift it. You also need potholders, and long tongs or a long-handled spoon to move coals.

Foods stick less if you season your Dutch oven. To do so, rub the clean, dry pan and lid all over with salad oil. Set pan and lid side by side in a 325 degrees oven for 1 hour; let cool, then wipe clean with paper towels. After washing a Dutch oven, dry it thoroughly, coat lightly with salad oil, and wipe clean with a paper towel.

Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

Dutch oven diameter 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch

Charcoal briquets 30 36 52

Game hens, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each 2 3 5

Stuffing (use a favorite recipe) 1 1/2 cups 2 cups 4 cups

Salad oil 1/2 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon 1 teaspoon

Paprika 1/2 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon 1 teaspoon

Carrots, large, cut in 3-inch lengths 2 3 5

Ears of corn, medium-size, husks 1 or 2 2 or 3 3 or 4

and silks removed, cut into chunks

Salt and pepper

Servings 2 3 5

Rinse hens and pat dry; reserve giblets for other uses. Fill body and breast cavities

equally with stuffing. Pour oil into Dutch oven and rub over the bottom. Place

hens, breast up, in pan; dust birds evenly with paprika and surround with carrots.

Put lid on pan.

Set up Dutch oven to cook (see page 77). Beneath, use 10 freshly ignited coals for

a 10-inch pan, 12 for a 12-inch pan, and 17 for a 14-inch pan. Ignite remain

ing coals.

Cook hens 25 minutes; lift lid off and add corn. Replace lid and arrange remain

ing ignited coals evenly over lid. Cook until meat at the thigh bone is no longer

pink (cut to test), about 20 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving without stuffing: 668cal.;65gprotein;27gcarbo.;33gfat,-198mgchol.;233mg


Braised Spareribs


Dutch oven diameter 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch

Charcoal briquets 46 56 62

Catsup 1 cup 1 1/2 cups 2 cups

Tomato-based chili sauce 1 1/4 CUPS 1 3/4 CUPS 2 1/2 cups

Onions, medium-size, finely chopped 1 2 3

Cider vinegar 1/2 cup 3/4 CUP 1 cup

light molasses 1/4 CUP 1/2cup 1/2 cup

Worcestershire 2 tablespoons 3 tablespoons 1/2 cup

Pork spareribs, cut apart 4 pounds 6 pounds 8 pounds

Servings 4 to 6 6 to 8 8 to 10

In a Dutch oven, stir together catsup, chili sauce, onion, vinegar, molasses, and

Worcestershire. Add spareribs and mix with sauce.

Set up Dutch oven to cook (see page 77). Beneath, use 10 freshly ignited coals for

a 10-inch pan, 12 for a 12-inch pan, 14 for a 14-inch pan. Put lid on pan; arrange

20 coals on lid of 10-inch pan, 24 on 12-inch pan, 28 on 14-inch pan.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender when pierced, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

At two 30-minute intervals, add 1/2 remaining freshly ignited coals, 1/3 on bottom,

1/2 on top. With a baster, siphon fat from pan juices and discard.

Per serving:623 cal.;37g protein;38g carbo.;36g fat,-143mg chol.; 1,403mg sodium.

Tri-color Vegetableswith Cheese

Dutch oven diameter 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch

Charcoal briquets 30 36 42

Water 3/4 CUP 1 cup 1 1/4 CUP

Cauliflowerets 4 cups 6 cups 8 cups

Broccoli flowerets 4 cups 6 cups 8 cups

Crookneck squash, sliced 2 cups 3 cups 4 cups

1/4 inch thick

Fresh taragon, chopped 1 tablespoon 1 1/2 tablespoons 2 tablespoons

1/2 to 3/4 cup 3/ po

Cheddar cheese, shredded 1/4 tO 1/2 pound 1/2 tO 4 und 4 tO l und

Green onions, chopped 1/2 cup 1/2 cup 1/2 cup

Salt and pepper

Servings 8 to 10 12 to 14 16 to 20

In a Dutch oven, mix together water, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, and tarragon.

Put lid on pan.

Set up Dutch oven to cook (see page 77). Beneath, use 10 freshly ignited coals for

a 10-inch pan, 12 for a 12-inch pan, 14 for a 14-inch pan. Arrange remaining

coals evenly on lid. Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp when pierced, about 20

minutes. Sprinkle cheese and onions over vegetables; add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving:96cal; 7.lg protein; 7.8g carbo.;5g fat,15mg chol.;112mg sodium.

Bacon, Onions, and Potatoes

Dutch oven diameter 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch

Charcoal briquets 35 42 52

Bacon, chopped 1/2 pound 3/4 pound 1 pound

Onions, medium-size, chopped 2 3 4

Thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed 2 pounds 3 pounds 4 pounds

and sliced 1/2 inch thick

Salt and pepper

Servings 6 to 8 8 to 10 12 to 16

Add bacon to Dutch oven and put on lid. Set up Dutch oven to cook (see page

77), using 1/3 of the freshly ignited coals beneath and remaining coals on the lid,

Cook, stirring once, until bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Add onions; cover and

cook, stirring once, until onions are limp, about 10 minutes.

Mix potatoes with onions; cover pan and cook, stirring once, until potatoes are

tender when pierced, about 25 minutes. Spoon out and discard fat. Add salt and

pepper to taste.

Per serving : 357 cal ; 8 g protein; 44g carbo. ; 17g fat; 19mg chol, ; 210 mg sodium.

Yeast Rolls

Dutch oven diameter 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch

Charcoal briquets 20 26 30

All-purpose flour, cups About 4 1/2 About 6 About 81/2

Active dry yeast, packages 1 1 2

Sugar 5 teaspoons 2 tablespoons 3 tablespoons

Salt 1/2 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon 1 teaspoon

Butter or margarine, melted 2 tablespoons 3 tablespoons 1/4 cup (1/8 Lb.)

Milk, heated to scalding 1 1/2 cups 2 1/2 cups 3 cups

Yield 18 rolls 24 rolls 36 rolls

In a large bowl, combine half the flour with yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir in melted

butter and hot milk; beat with a heavy spoon until mixture is stretchy Stir in

remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until a dough forms. Knead on a floured board

until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add flour to prevent sticking.

Grease inside of Dutch oven. Divide dough into equal-size pieces to make number

of rolls that fit pan size, then shape each piece into a ball. Set balls evenly apart

in pan. Put lid on pan and let stand in a warm place until rolls are about double in

size, about 1 hour. Set up Dutch oven to cook (see page 77), using 1/2 of the

fteshly ignited coals beneath and remaining coals on the lid.

Cook until rolls are browned on top, about 35 minutes. Lift off coals; remove lid.

Run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen rolls. Serve from pan.

Per roll.143cal;4.lg protein;26g carbo.;2.2g fat,-6.2mg chol.;85mg sodium,

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Dutch oven diameter 10-inch 12-inch 14-inch

Charcoal briquets 20 24 32

Pound cake mix (1 -Lb. package) 1 1 1/2 2

Eggs, large 2 3 4

Milk 3/4 CUP 1 1/4 CUPS 1 1/2 cups

Brown sugar, firmly packed 3/4 CUP 1 cup 1 1/4 CUPS

Butter or margarine 1/2 cup (1/8 Lb.) 6 tablespoons 1/2 cup (1/4 Lb.)

Canned pineapple slices, drained 7 9 11

Canned maraschino cherries, 7 9 11

drained (optional)

Servings 8 to 10 12 to 16 18 to 20

In a bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, and milk; beat until smooth. Set batter aside.

Put brown sugar and butter in Dutch oven; put lid on pan.

Set up Dutch oven to cook (see page 77), using 1/3 of the freshly ignited coals

underneath and remaining coals on the lid. Cook until sugar and butter melt, 3 to

4 minutes; stir to mix. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer in the sugar mix

ture; place a cherry in the center of each slice. Pour batter over pineapple. Re

place lid; cook until cake just begins to pull from sides of pan and a toothpick

inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Remove lid. Invert a shallow rimmed platter over pan; hold pan and platter to

gether, using heatproof mitts, and quickly invert cake onto platter. Cut into wedges and serve with sauce on platter.

Per serving : 382 cal. ; 3.2g protein; 57g carbo. ; 16g fat,- 7 mg chol. ; 255mg sodium.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 1, 1988
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