Dutch ovens are known for their versatility when it comes to cooking up great food outdoors. We thought we would examine the different ways you can cook using a Dutch oven so you have a practical guide to creating amazing grub on your next camping trip or in the garden.
The 4 Styles of Cooking
Probably the most straight forward cooking style is to stew or boil ingredients in your Dutch Oven. This is great if you want to set the oven over a fire and leave it to do it's thing for a few hours before serving up a delicious meal. However, there are three other style of cooking to try out this summer. The first is baking - great for making fresh bread or pies whilst outdoors. Second is roasting - perfect for a succulent joint. The third method is frying - ideal for a fry up in the morning.
The style of cooking depends on where you place the coals around the Dutch oven. Here are our tips for each:
- Boiling/Stewing - place most coals underneath the oven with a few on top on the lid (approx 4:1 ratio of coals bottom to top)
- Baking - most coals should be placed on top with a few underneath (approx 3:1 ratio of coals top to bottom)
- Roasting - you'll need an even heat, so spread the coals evenly between the top and bottom of the oven
- Frying - this requires a focused heat on the base, so place all coals under the oven.
It's tricky to put an exact number on the amount of charcoal chunks/briquettes you need to cook with. This varies based on the ground and air temperatures, humidity, wind, elevation and sunshine. For example, a strong wind will blow air through the coals resulting in the heat being more intense and the coals burning faster. Strong sunlight is great for heating up a cast iron Dutch oven so you'll need less heat to get the cooking started. The cooking style you are looking to use will also influence the number of coals required. Usually we use between 15-20 lumps of charcoal and spread these out in the ratios above, but it's an art, so we recommend you run a couple of trial runs before heading out to the campsite or before you invite guests over!