Dutch Oven Cooking

I am a Boy Scout. That is to say when I was a kid, I was in the Boy Scouts of America. By Scout law, ones scouting career is over at the age of 18, but I consider it as a lifetime membership. It was in the Boy Scouts where I learned how to cook outdoors. By this I don’t just mean grilling hot dogs or burgers on a Weber grill either. When we went camping, we cooked all of our meals from scratch. Much like in a professional kitchen, the younger scouts would be assigned the task of cleaning and set up. As you gained more experience out in the wild you worked your way up the food chain to prep work and finally head chef which included the responsibility of planning and overseeing the entire meal process.

Each patrol was outfitted with a kitchen box which included cook kits (pots & pans), utensils, pantry staples and various other goodies that often come in handy like aluminum foil, oven mitts, prep bowls, etc. Each patrol was responsible for creating their own kitchen box. If you were lucky, or creative enough, you find a way to procure a Dutch oven and any other cast iron cookware you could.

The Dutch Oven is a large cast iron kettle with a lid that can either be hung over a fire or buried in coals to create an oven to cook in. With this piece of hardware, the myriads of dishes are almost limitless. It was in this vessel that I learned to create stews, chili, biscuits, cobblers, and even deep-dish pizza.

This past spring I bought an RV. My camping days are from from over but my back refuses me to sleep on the ground in a tent. So, I caved in and bought the thing a young scout ridiculed the most, a fully furnished camper. Literally a mobile home on wheels. And while the convenience of being able to prepare a meal in the rain on a propane stovetop is handy, I still enjoy cooking over an open fire.

Last week, I pulled out the old Dutch oven to see if I still have my cooking chops of my youth. Fortunately in the 25 years since I last cooked over an open fire with this thing, I have had the advantage of expanding my culinary expertise in the professional kitchen, catering and as a personal chef. Needless to say, it paid off 10 fold. What was once a simple beef stew has become delicate and rich Beef Bourguignon. Granted, it’s much easier for a man in his 40’s to procure a bottle of fine red wine than a 13 year old kid.

Here is my results and please pardon the photo quality as it is hard to capture the details from a point & shoot digital camera fireside at night.


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