This has always been about halfway a food blog, and today’s post is no exception. I received a Lodge cast iron dutch oven for Christmas in the 12-inch size, and I love it. Dutch ovens meant for campfire cooking are different than those you’d put in your home oven. See the feet? Those elevate the dutch oven above a bed of coals. There’s a formula for how many to use. Generally, you want to take the number on the oven (here 10) and double it to make (in this case) 20 hot charcoals.
Then, you take the same number (again 10) and subtract three from it to determine how many coals go below the oven. Then you put the remaining coals on top, in an even circle. So, here, the correct formula would be 7 coals below and 13 on top. For my 12 inch oven, I put 9 coals below and 15 on top. See how it works?
The amazing thing about Dutch ovens is that they are actual OVENS. You can bake in them, like literally bake a cake or a pot pie. I’ve seen master Dutch oven cooks like Bob Ranney of Missouri bake chocolate cake in them. The key is to utilize parchment paper inserts, which allow for super easy cleaning. You just drop the insert in, put your materials in the coffee-filter-looking paper, and bake as instructed above. When you’re done, remove the insert and burn it in the fire; your oven will remain completely clean.
But say hypothetically you want to cook a pot of chili or some other wet material. What then? Well, this is cast iron, and like any cast iron, clean up is extremely simple. First, make your food. When you’re done, scrape out the inside of the skillet using a metal spatula. You can’t mar cast iron even by scratching around on it, because the seasoning is actually scorched carbon. Don’t use soap; just scrape it clean and rinse it out with ordinary water, then wipe it dry with a paper towel. To preserve the cast iron from rust, wipe a thin sheen of Crisco or other oil all over the oven. If you’ve scratched all the way through the seasoning, you can heat the oven back up either on the coals or in a home unit to re-carbonize the oil. So long as the iron itself is covered in carbon, it will never rust and never really change. Cast iron ovens and skillets made by Lodge can last for generations; indeed some of these will certainly still be in use 300 years from now.
Lodge is the best and it’s cheap. A 12-inch Dutch oven is less than $100 and will make your boat or car-based camping a luxurious experience for the rest of your life. That’s hard to beat!
(Like I said, you can cook anything!)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (demerit for weight)
Purchase: From Amazon.com.