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10 Tips For Cooking with Dutch Ovens – Getting Started

Ever tried cooking with dutch ovens?  I’ve had this on my “To-Learn” list for a long time, AND so has my husband.  [Ding ding!] What a great idea for a Father’s Day present!

We’re much too practical to just buy all the dutch oven gear before having a run through to see if we can really enjoy this style of cooking.  So, in honor of my 2-year old’s birthday, we asked Always Friendly, Ever-Helpful Spence to whip up some classic dutch oven fare for the party.

Here’s a list of tips we picked up.  We’re no experts, but it was enough info to get us started.

  • Create a safe cooking zone.  Remove flammable materials and cordon off the kids.  No one wants to take a curious toddler to the ER with burnt fingers.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Enjoy the process.  Yes, we could do all this inside, but the goal was to spend more time outside.
  • Recruit help. A one-man kitchen may cause Little Red Hen Syndrome.  Many hands make light work, as the saying goes.
  • Prepare your ingredients. Having everything chopped and measured will speed up the cooking process.

  • Prepare your charcoal.  We used a chimney or a charcoal started on a steel table to heat the briquettes to a nice grey color.  It only took 5-6 pieces of newspaper, one at a time,  to get the temperature we needed.
  • Preheat your pans.  Using one batch of charcoal to heat up your ovens will cut down on the cooking time.

  • Set up a cooking table.  Make space for your spices, ingredients, sauces and other supplies that is near your cooking zone.  Be prepared for spills and clean up by having paper towels and a trash bag ready.  We should have started with this as we were running around gathering items as we were cooking.

  • Don’t forget your grill.  We added some bright crunchy grilled vegetables to our menu since we were cooking outside anyway.
  • Test your heat.  If you can leave your hand 10 inches above your pot for more than 10 seconds, it”s not hot enough.  Ideal temps are in the 300s.
  • Share!  Recipes tend to feed a large number of people so be sure to invite some guests!

Basic Supplies

Here’s the list of basic supplies we had on hand.  You may not need all of these when cooking with dutch ovens, but they can be very helpful.

Dutch ovens,  Aluminum Dutch Oven Liners, large aluminum tins to create a cooking area, long tongs, large spoons, a lid lifter, oven mitts, charcoal briquets, newspaper, matches, chimney or briquet starter, working table and ingredients.

What tips do you have for cooking with dutch ovens?

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Comments (4)

  1. Oceanside Pediatric Dentist 06/17/2012 at 8:43 pm

    That seems like a fun idea. How long was the cooking time when you used the dutch oven?

    • Amy 06/18/2012 at 8:09 am

      The ovens pre-heated for about 15 minutes, then cooking time was about 40 minutes for the potatoes and up to an hour for the meat. Once the dutch ovens are warm, the temp is about 350. I’ll post the specific recipes this week!

  2. Raejean 06/15/2012 at 3:42 pm

    I’m far from an expert, but I love my dutch oven at Thanksgiving. I use it to cook my stuffing, since my oven is full of turkey and rolls!

    • Amy 06/18/2012 at 8:10 am

      Brilliant idea! One more reason I may need a couple ovens in my life!