Dutch Oven Cooking with THRIVE
Summer is the season of outdoor cooking—there’s nothing better than enjoying the beauty of nature, the company of friends and family, and the mouthwatering flavors of home-cooked foods all at once. Our upcoming THRIVE Live broadcast is going to focus on Chef Todd’s delicious Dutch oven recipes, a good reminder that THRIVE is great foroutdoor cooking. THRIVE is already cleaned and chopped, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and is lightweight, making preparation a breeze even when you’re in the wild. Whether you’re using THRIVE meats, beans, and rice for hearty stews or casseroles, or whipping up a tasty cobbler with THRIVE fruits, THRIVE is perfect for campfire cooking.
So you know what to do with THRIVE—but do you know what to do with the Dutch oven? Here’s a few tips so you can all be Dutch oven experts by the THRIVE Live broadcast!
Know Your Briquettes!
The heat source of choice for Dutch ovens is charcoal briquettes. Make sure you know how to use them!
- Use high quality briquettes that are packed tightly so they burn longer and don’t pop or spit. Good charcoal will produce consistent heat for about an hour, and should be replaced after that if your food needs to cook longer. You can use a few less briquettes the second time around because the oven’s already hot and will require less heat.
- A good rule of thumb for knowing how many briquettes are required for about 350⁰ heat is to double the circumference of your oven; for example, a 12” oven would need about 24 briquettes.
- If you need more heat than 350⁰, add one briquette for each 10–15⁰ more of heat that you need.
- Keep in mind that cool weather, high altitude, and humidity will decrease the heat of your briquettes; warm weather, low altitude, and wind will increase the heat. Wind also causes briquettes to burn faster, so make sure they’re protected from the wind while you’re cooking.
- To make the best use of your briquettes, place them in a circle no less than ½” from the outside edge of the oven. On top of the lid, place them in a checkerboard pattern to distribute the heat evenly and prevent hot spots.
- The ratio of how many briquettes to put underneath your oven versus on the lid depends on what you’re cooking:
- Put 1/3 on top and 2/3 underneath for simmering (soups and stews)
- Put 2/3 on top and 1/3 underneath for baking (breads, cobblers , cakes, pies)
- Put ½ on top and ½ underneath for roasting (meats, vegetables, etc.)
Here are a couple helpful hints to remember when you’re cooking with your Dutch oven:
- You can also cook over wood fires with your Dutch oven if you use hardwoods like hickory, oak, or mesquite that will produce good coals. You’ll want to start the fire 45 minutes before you need to start cooking to get the fire down to coals.
- To make sure everything cooks easily, it’s recommended to rotate the oven 90⁰ every 15 minutes while rotating the lid 90⁰ in the other direction (or rotate the oven 180⁰ and replace the lid as it was before you moved the oven).
- If steam escapes from the oven when you open the lid, that means it’s too hot and you’re in danger of burning the food.
- You can stack multiple Dutch ovens on top of each other to cook, as long as they need the same amount of heat on the top and bottom.
- Dutch oven lids also work great as griddles when placed upside down over a fire or charcoal, and their slightly bowed shape will keep your food from running, like on a flat griddle.
- Don’t use soap to clean your Dutch oven. This can damage the natural “seasoning” of the oven. Clean your oven with hot water after every use and rub it with a light coat of oil after.
There are a few tools you’ll need if you plan on cooking with a Dutch oven regularly:
- Sturdy leather gloves for handling the oven
- Long-handled metal tongs for moving briquettes
- A lid stand or rack to keep it out of the dirt while you’re stirring
- A tool to lift the lid with; some people just find a good forked stick, but you can also buy a metal lid lifter that has legs to stabilize the lid while it’s being moved with hot coals on top of it
- A whisk broom to brush the ash off the lid before opening to keep it from getting in the food
- Wooden utensils for stirring—they don’t scratch like metal or melt like plastic
- A flexible putty knife or similar tool that you can use to scrape food from the bottom and sides of the oven without scratching or melting
Now you’re ready to get out there and start seeing what you can cook up in your Dutch oven with THRIVE! Post below to share your great THRIVE Dutch Oven recipes or your own Dutch oven tips!