|A well-seasoned camp dutch oven ready for action|
Description and Uses
You can recognize a camp dutch oven by its legs—which keep it from directly contacting (and potentially crushing) any coals placed beneath it for cooking. Note: "Dutch" doesn't mean the thing came from Holland... it's a holdover from when "dutch" meant "ghetto".
Most camp dutch ovens have a lip that surrounds the top of the lid. This lip holds in place any coals placed on top of the dutch oven for baking. Legend has it that Paul Revere invented the lipped dutch oven lid.
A camp dutch oven is used for outdoor cooking. Most authorities and cookbooks follow the charcoal briquette method. This means you ignite charcoal briquettes like you'd use in your household barbeque, and then strategically place them under and on top of the camp dutch oven to achieve the right temperature for whatever it is you are cooking.
Some folks hang their dutch oven from a tripod for campfire cooking (which allows you to control heat by raising and lowering the dutch oven). Others nestle their camp dutch ovens among the coals of a settled fire (also shown at right), or build supports using rocks. You can, of course, place the camp dutch oven directly on a metal grate over a campfire.
You can also use your camp dutch oven as a slow cooker / crock pot. To do this, dig a hole in the ground that's about 6 inches deeper than your dutch oven, and light a fire in the hole. Once the fire has burned to coals, remove half of those coals, leaving a base of about 3 inches at the bottom of the hole. Place the dutch oven (full of food) on top of the bottom layer of coals, and then pile the remaining coals on top (perhaps another 3 inches). Pile a few inches of dirt on top of the top layer of coals, and then cover it all with wet burlap to prevent sparks. Dig it back up in 10 hours. The effect approximates a slow cooker set on "low".
Inside bottom diameter: 9 1/2 inches
Outside top diameter: 12 1/2 inches
Depth: 5 inches
Care and Maintenance
In general, follow standard care instructions for bare cast iron. Of course, if you're camping, you may not have access to a sink, stove top, or oven. The basics are: 1) wash dirt, ashes, and food from the camp dutch oven with hot water and a non-abrasive (plastic bristles) scrubber, 2) dry with heat (in the sun, or over the fire), and then 3) oil the dutch oven inside and out so it's nice and shiny.
Always start your cooking with a shiny dutch oven to keep it nonstick.