The Dutch Oven – Back to the Basics

I have always wanted to get into dutch oven cooking so I finally picked me up a 12″ cast iron deep dutch oven. I told the wife from now on I will cook dinner for the family on my first night off outside under the stars. My daughter and I poured over websites and looked at all sorts of recipes. We finally decided on a nice Beef Stew and Cornbread. We cooked the Cornbread first after we spent several hours seasoning the dutch oven. I mixed up some Jiffy Cornbread mix, greased up the oven, and poured it in. 

We placed the oven on top of 10 coals and placed 14 coals on top in a ring. Every 5 minutes I turned the dutch oven a quarter turn and the lid a quarter of a turn back to keep the heat even inside the dutch oven and limit the hot spots. After 35 minutes it looked great but it was burned on the bottom and I wish I had a shovel small enough to dig it out. We were able to salvage quite a lot of the unburnt stuff and it did taste pretty dern good. Next time note to self maybe 6 coals on the bottom and 10 on top and open it up and check it often.

Next we did the beef stew which cooked superfast on top of 18 coals none on top. We put 2 lbs of stew beef in two tablespoons of vegetable oil inside the dutch oven and browned it up. My hawk got to eat a couple of nice small raw pieces. He is part of the family after all. We then tossed in the onions, garlic, mushrooms and bellpeppers. After a few minutes we tossed in the seasoning, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and parsley, and the rest of the veggies, carrots, 1 jalapeno, celery and tomatoes, with some beef broth. After 50 minutes it was done and awesome. We are all calling this a success. Next time I won’t cook it so long that the potatoes are almost mashed but it was good just the same. Also only use 1 tablespoon of flour to thicken up the juices, no more or you’ll end up with paste. I think my wife and daughter really enjoyed cooking and eating outside under the stars. We had a real blast.

My wife thinks of course the main reason I am interested in dutch oven cooking is that next time I drag them off to a Campground with nearby public hunting for my hawk they will enjoy it more with the nice cooked meals.  Well doh of course that is why I am doing it, I already spend more time with my bird then my wife LOL.


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