Monday, August 3, 2015

Hot coals and Dutch Ovens

We were up at the cabin on Pear Lake last week cutting back the jungle of elderberry, dwarf birch, and devils club that wants to win back the yard there.  With the recent fires in the area we are more aware of defensible space and started looking at trees that might need to be eliminated.  All this work puts on an appetite so I put the Dutch oven to work.  This is a good option when we want to avoid heating the cabin on warm days, and a birch campfire makes a good bed of coals for cooking.   The key to good open-fire cooking is a nice bed of coals rather than a bunch of flames.  

Last year, I realized I needed a smaller Dutch oven than the twelve incher I had, so I got a dandy little two quart for making meals for two.  I had good luck braising a chunk of beef in it and then found an old Dutch oven under the cabin that had been left full of water and cracked when it froze.  This makes a great fire pan to hold the coals for the smaller oven.  This browned meat for tacos and then I baked biscuits that way.   
I salvaged the old lid from the broken oven as a griddle.  Most Dutch ovens are designed so the lid can be inverted used as a grill.   I used it flat on the coals and inverted on the cracked oven fire pan.   

Dutch oven cooking is getting quite the attention lately, and if I lived in a hot place I would find lots of excused for not using the oven or cooktop in the house.  
A Dutch oven can be used in a BBQ too.  Last night I made pork ribs, which I cooked slowly with indirect heat (charcoal) for two hours and then put in an old enamel Dutch oven to finish off for an hour. This worked better than wrapping the ribs in foil.  I just put the ribs in the pot set it on the grill and covered it.   With the briquette running out of steam and the vents closed, the covered grill kept the temperature low.