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Dutch Oven Handout

Dutch Oven Handout

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Published by: lcveducator on Jan 12, 2009
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06/02/2012

 
 
Dutch Oven Cooking – A Brief Introduction
Brought to you by the Prairie Dog Chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society 
Introduction and Background
Dutch ovens were the cooking ovens of our pioneer forefathers. They hung them over thefireplaces in their eastern colonials and their wilderness log cabins. They carried them intheir covered wagons and push carts as they headed west over the Great Plains. Theycooked with them over their wood and buffalo chip stoves in their dugouts and sod hutson the prairies. They carried them in their chuck wagons on the great cattle drives. Andthey used them in their ranch houses and adobe homesteads when they got to where theywere going.Once the basic cooking utensil of the everyday pioneer kitchen, Dutch ovens were almostforgotten, except for a few die hard cowboy cooks. But over the past couple of decades,Dutch ovens have made a remarkable comeback thanks to a growing group of weekendpioneers and enthusiastic members of Dutch Oven Cooking Societies around the world.Almost any weekend of the year, in any part of the world, you can find Dutch oven cooksgathered attending local, regional or even national DOGs.So what’s a DOG? A DOG “
D
utch
O
ven
G
athering” is a group of Dutch oven cooksgetting together to share recipes, cooking techniques, fellowship, education, and most of all enjoy the fruits of their labor by eating some really good food. Some of the DOGs,local, regional and national, involve competitive cooking. Although for the most part,DOGs are gatherings of good folks that like to cook in their Dutch Ovens.Why the growing interest in this throwback to the Iron Age? It’s fun, simple,entertaining and if you do it right, the results often taste better then anything you couldproduce in its modern equivalent. And it is known to stir up some repressed memories inour own collective consciousness.
Dutch Ovens – Early European history
(Wikipedia contributors, "Dutch oven," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dutch_oven&oldid=261452695 (accessed January 2, 2009).)
 
During the late 1600s the Dutch system of producing these cast metal cooking vesselswas more advanced than the English system. The Dutch used dry sand to make theirmolds, giving their pots a smoother surface. Consequently, metal cooking vessels
 
 
produced in the Netherlands were imported into Britain. In 1704, an Englishman namedAbraham Darby decided to go to the Netherlands to observe the Dutch system for makingthe cooking vessels. Four years later, back in England, Darby patented a castingprocedure similar to the Dutch process and began to produce cast metal cooking vesselsfor Britain and her new American Colonies. It is possible that because Darby’s patentwas based upon his research into the Dutch foundry system that the cooking vessels heproduced came to be referred to as “Dutch” ovens. Other researchers believe that thisterm may have come from the itinerant Dutch traders who sold cooking vessels out of their wagons as they traveled from town to town and door to door. Maybe both accountsare true. In any event, the term “Dutch oven” has endured for over 300 years.
Dutch Ovens – American history
Over time the Dutch oven used in the American Colonies began to change. The potbecame shallower and legs were added to hold the oven above the coals. A flange wasadded to the lid to keep the coals on the lid and out of the food.The cast-iron cookware was loved by colonists and settlers because of its versatility anddurability. It could be used for boiling, baking, stews, frying, roasting, and just about anyother use. The ovens were so valuable that wills in the 18th and 19th centuries frequentlyspelled out the desired inheritor of the cast iron cookware. For example, MaryWashington (mother of President George Washington) specified in her will, dated 20May 1788, that one-half of her "iron kitchen furniture" should go to her grandson,Fielding Lewis, and the other half to Betty Carter, a granddaughter. Several Dutch ovenswere among Mary's "iron kitchen furniture."When the young American country began to spread westward across the North Americancontinent, so did the Dutch oven. A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest in 1804-1806. The pioneerswho settled the American West also took along their Dutch ovens. In fact, a statue raisedto honor the Mormon handcart companies who entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in the1850s proudly displays a Dutch oven hanging from the front of the handcart. Mountainmen exploring the great American frontier used Dutch ovens into the late 1800s. Dutchoven cooking was also prominent among those who took part in the western cattle drivesthat lasted from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. You wouldn’t be able to find a chuck wagon without the cook’s prized cast iron cookware, including his Dutch ovens.Even state legislatures recognize the importance of cast iron Dutch ovens. The Dutchoven is the official state cooking pot of Utah. Arkansas designated the cast iron Dutchoven the official state historic cooking vessel in 2001. On June 28, 2005 our 79
th
TexasLegislature decreed in Resolution Nine the cast iron Dutch oven be the official Texasstate cooking implement.
 
 
So how do you start?
First you’re going to need to buy a Dutch oven. There are quite a few choices here; youcan find them at stores like REI, Gander Mountain, Sportsman Warehouse, Bass ProShops, Wal-Mart, and Cabela’s. Lodge is one of the best known manufacturers of Dutchovens, and makes a consistently good product. Another very good brand is Camp Chef.You are going to need, what we call, a “camp oven” which is different than the regularDutch ovens that are used to cook in an indoor kitchen. When we talk about a Dutchoven, we’re specifically talking about a “camp oven.”
Choosing the right oven:
For outdoor cooking, you need to purchase a “camp” or “outdoor”Dutch oven that has three stubby legs on the bottom and a flanged lid.The legs create space for coals or charcoal briquettes under the oven,and the flanged lid is to keep the coals from rolling off of the domedlid, thus supplying the necessary heat to the inside of the oven. Campovens come in a variety of sizes and capacities from 8 inches up to a 24 inch. The 12 inchis probably the most popular and versatile.
Dutch oven cooking accessories:
You’re going to want to get some accessories to go with your Dutch oven. A charcoalchimney is a convenient and consistent way of starting your briquettes. You will alsowant a lid lifter to get that hot lid off the oven. In lieu of a lid lifter a good pair of channellocks can do the job. The lid lifter is also useful in moving the Dutch oven around. Acommercial lid lifter such as a Mair Lid Lifter definitely has its advantages. It allows youto hold the lid in a position that allows for easy disposal of the ashes on the lid. You willalso want a lid rack to keep the lid off the ground and clean.A set of long metal stainless steel tongs for moving and removing the coals is anothervery useful tool to have. (You can try to grab them and move them with your bare handsbut I do not recommend it!) A pair of leather gloves (like the ones used for welding) isalmost a necessity for moving coals and hot ovens around. A small whisk broom can helpyou clean the ashes off the lid before opening. Another nice accessory to have is one of the small pot-metal fireplace shovels to aid in the cleanup process. It helps clean off theashes from the cooking surface. Speaking of cooking surfaces, if you’re going to do a lotof Dutch oven cooking a Dutch oven cooking table is “must” to have. It is a metal tablethat is heat resistant and allows you to place your ovens at a convenient height forcooking.

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Robert Cole added this note
The calphalon Dutch oven is ideal for all purposes, and it is the right choice that customers should take. It has many features of which some of them are mentioned above, and they’re great.
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