Here's How To...

Cook With a Dutch Oven

An essential American cooking implement since colonial times, the Dutch oven is a three-legged cast-iron pot with a flanged lid that holds hot wood coals or charcoal. This versatile campfire oven can also be used as a soup pot, frying pan, or deep-fat fryer. "Heat management rather than recipe preparation is the real key to successful Dutch oven cooking," writes outdoor cooking expert C.W. Welch in Retro Ranch: A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin'

When baking with a 12-inch Dutch oven, generate bottom heat by placing five or six hot charcoal briquets in a circle between its legs. To generate a higher temperature place 18-24 briquets "next to each other around the outside flange of the lid, with two or three spaced evenly around the lid handle," Welch advises.

For roasting, generate heat the same as for baking, but if the dish has cooking liquid in it increase the number of briquets beneath the oven by 50 percent.

For frying or boiling, keep adding briquets underneath the oven until you get the right temperature.

"Briquets should be lit about 15 to 20 minutes prior to cooking and should be turning light grey when they are ready to use. Unless there is wind, the briquets should last for about an hour. Most dishes will cook in that amount of time," Welch points out.

How do you know when the dish is done? Welch replies:

"If it smells done, it's done. If it smells burnt, it;s burnt. And if you can't smell it, it's not done!"  

Retro Ranch
A Roundup or Classic Cowboy Cookin'
by C. W. Welch

Dutch Oven
Dutch Oven

Cowboy Charcoal
Cowboy Charcoal

101 Things to Do with a Dutch Oven
101 Things to Do with a Dutch Oven

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