Camping is about getting away from it all, getting back to nature, and with Dutch oven camping recipes it's about good food too.
What is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven is basically a pot with a lid. When it was first introduced in the early 1700's it was made of cast iron and was a major help in the kitchen. The main innovation of the Dutch oven was the lid, which was designed as a flat top with a lip running along the edge. The lip is there to hold hot coals on the lid. The coals will heat the cast iron and heat the space within the Dutch oven evenly.
What is commonly thought of as Dutch oven camping recipes today would have been home cooking in the 1700's. Dutch ovens are usually made from cast iron or aluminum. Both metals have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of cast iron is that it heats evenly. It holds on to heat so you don't lose a lot of heat when you add food to the pot or pan. Aluminum also has its advantages. If you need to hike to your campsite you may regret bringing along a 15 pound cast iron Dutch oven but may not even notice the aluminum Dutch oven weighing in at approximately one pound. Aluminum heats up very quickly and is easier to clean.
How to use a Dutch Oven
You can use a Dutch oven like any pot but it really shines out when used as a portable oven. Start with a very hot fire, preferable made from hardwood. Hardwood will give you longer lasting coals and for Dutch oven cooking you want the coals to last as long as possible. You can also use regular charcoal briquettes.
Once you have your coals ready, place the Dutch oven on a nice flat bed of the coals. Be sure to have a pile of hot coals to add to the lid to get the Dutch oven acting like an oven. Now that you have the coals and oven ready lets move on to the Dutch oven camping recipes.
Dutch Oven Camping Recipes
Anything that is best slow cooked is perfect for a Dutch oven. So stews, braises pilafs and soups are great ideas.
Pilaf is easy to make and pairs well with anything that you are cooking over the fire. The ratio here is 1 rice to 1.5 to 2 liquid. So, 2 cups of rice can take up to 4 cups of liquid. Use a chicken or beef stock. Place about 20 coals or briquettes under the Dutch oven.
- 2 ounces of butter
- 3 ounces of diced onion
- 2 cups of rice
- 3.5 to 4 cups of chicken or beef stock
- Pinch of salt
- Melt the butter in the Dutch oven
- Add the onions and sauté until they are soft
- Add the rice and stir it until it is coated with the butter.
- Pour in the stock and bring to a boil
- Add additional seasonings (see below)
- Once the stock comes to a boil reduce the coals to about 15. Then place the top on the Dutch oven and add some coals to the top. Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. Check in 20 minutes.
You can add just about anything you have on hand to your rice pilaf a few good ideas would be:
- Diced carrots
For a nice beef stew you will need:
- 1.5 pounds beef cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 ounce oil
- 1/4 pound onion
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1 ounce flour
- 2 ounces tomato puree
- Half a quart beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch of thyme
- 4 celery stalks
- 4 carrots
- ¼ pound of pearl onions
- 8 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 8 ounce frozen peas
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the Dutch oven
- Heat the oil until it's very hot.
- Brown the beef
- Add the onion and sauté until lightly browned
- Add the flour to make a roux
- Stir until the roux is slightly browned
- Stir in the tomato puree
- Add the stock and bring to a boil
- Add the bay leaf and the thyme
- Cover the Dutch oven and add coals to the top
- Add the veggies
- Add the tomatoes
- Let it simmer for about and hour until the meat is tender
- Degrease the stew and taste for seasoning