Cooking with a Dutch oven has been a way of life over many centuries. Although the art of cooking in this way has almost been lost. Today, however, there is a new tide of people looking to explore this exciting way of cooking.
So climb up to the attic and dust off the cobwebs it's time to learn how to use grandmas cast iron pot.
Don't think cooking with a Dutch oven is only for camping trips, soon you'll want to use it for all outdoor cooking ... even at home. It's an easy way to bake bread, make spicy meat dishes and even a cake or pudding at home with a barbecue or on your camping trip.
Cooking with Cast iron Pots - photo curtsey: Jo-Alda Theron
First of all ... what is a Dutch oven? The easiest way to describe it is that it's a flat bottom cast iron pot also called a black pot or potjie, sometimes with three legs and a lid and normally a big sling handle.
This handle is often used to extend the pot over an open fire from above.
A version that is commonly used in South Africa has a rounded bottom and three legs which make it easy to place on top of a fire or over a burning log.
Cooking over an open fire
If your heirloom is rusted it can easily be restored if the rust isn't to severe, not more than 2-3mm.
With proper care the Dutch oven will last for many years
When cooking with a Dutch oven - Always brown meat to seal in the juices
Slow cook over a moderate heat
Meat cooked in a black pot has a taste and aroma not easily equaled and it's absolutely scrumptious.
Always brown the meat properly before adding any liquid, this will prevent meat from looking bland and insipid.
For stewing you'll need to heat from the bottom over an open flame or charcoal embers. Do take note that cast iron keeps heat well do not use to much heat and make sure that you use enough fluids, but not to much. We don't want soup, unless you're planning to make soup.
Dutch Oven Recipes. Cook spicy meat dishes, chicken, Breads and Puddings.
When roasting a whole chicken or leg of lam/pork you need to have heat from the bottom as well as from the top. Place the oven on top of some coals not too many though, and put some coals on top of the lid as well. But just a few 4 or 5 will do.
Roasting a big piece of meat takes long keep feeding the fire to ensure a constant heat. Brown properly before adding liquid, when soft and cooked through pour fluid off and pot roast in oil of choice.
This is a wonderful way of baking bread when outdoors. Here, once again the need to heat from the bottom as well as the top is necessary.
Baking a banana bread, cake or pudding is also quite easy. Place the baking tin with the mixture on top of a wire grid inside the preheated oven/pot on top of fire/coals and some coals on the lid to heat from above, 4 or 5 coals should be enough.
Cooking with a Dutch oven is exciting and gives you more scope for outdoor cooking.