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Dutch Oven Recipe: Garlic Herb Stuffed Crust Pizza

What will command the attention of the kids faster than a pizza with a spiced cheese-stuffed crust? No more left over crusts piled on the plate… they’ll eat every bit.

There are scores of pizza recipes out there. This is the one that has evolved in our house to the point where the kids look forward to homemade pizza more than delivery.

Updates

20 March 2009
  • Fixed sauce ingredient list. I hope nobody really put a cup of water in the pizza sauce! Sorry!
  • Increased the amount of dough for thin vs. thick crust pizza.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Advanced skills (raising yeast dough)
Yield: Two 12″ thin crust pizzas
Ovens Needed: Two 12″ dutch oven

Crust Ingredients

Thin Crust Thick Crust
1 cup 1½ cups warm water
1 tbsp 1½ tbsp yeast
1 tsp 1½ tsp sugar
2-½ cups 3-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp 1½ tsp salt
½ tsp ½ tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp 4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp 2 tsp basil
½ pound ½ pound block of mozzarella cheese, not semicircle or non-block shape (I buy one-pound blocks and save half until the next pizza.)

Sauce Ingredients

1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
½ tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
½ tsp garlic salt

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Topping Ingredients

With toppings, let your imagination go wild. The only constant that we count on is a pound of cheese and a 6 or 8 ounce bag of sliced pepperoni.

The following ingredient list is typical for our house, where we ordinarily make a double pepperoni pizza, and a multi-item pizza.

1 pound shredded mozzarella
1 8-oz. bag of pepperoni
½ pound hot Italian-style sausage, cooked
½ bell pepper
8 or 10 black olives, sliced
2 or 3 sliced mushrooms

Crust Preparation

  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix flour, salt, basil, garlic powder, and olive oil together. Be sure to crush the basil leaves between your fingers before adding.
  3. Work the oil into the flour until it has a consistent texture.
  4. Add yeast mixture.
  5. Knead bread for five or ten minutes.
  6. Set in a warm oven to rise for approximately one hour.
  7. Punch down dough.
  8. Divide into two equal halves.
  9. Roll out until approximately 2 inches greater diameter than dutch oven, about 14″. This overlap will be used to stuff the crust.
  10. Coat the bottom and side of the dutch over with a very thin layer of olive oil.
  11. Place the dough in the dutch oven.

    Stuffing the Crust

  12. Slice the block of mozzarella lengthwise, about ½” wide. Cut this slice lengthwise into thirds. The result should be a long piece of cheese with a square cross section, roughly ½” per side.
  13. Lay the pieces of cheese end to end on top of the dough, around the edge. The extra dough will lay on top of the cheese, hiding it.
  14. Pick up the cheese slightly and neatly tuck the dough underneath. I use a slight rolling motion.
  15. Cover the dutch oven again, and set aside in a warm place for ten minutes. (This is where I prepare the sauce and toppings.

Sauce Preparation

Easy peasy…

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Be sure to crush the basil leaves between your fingers before adding.

Final Preparation

  1. Evenly spread half of the sauce on one of the pizzas.
  2. Place toppings on pizza.
  3. WARNING!
    When you sprinkle the cheese on the pizza, ensure that all of it is inside of the stuffed cheese rim. If any cheese melts and touches the side of the dutch oven, it will stick terribly and make removal more difficult.
    WARNING!

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Commentary: Cheese on Top or Underneath?

This is personal preference. Experiment to determine whether you like to put the shredded cheese

  1. on top of the sauce, laying out the other toppings on top of the cheese in an aesthetically-pleasing manner, or
  2. last — on top of everything.

Personally, I like to put the cheese on top of the pepperoni pizza because some pepperonis have a tendency to curl. Turkey pepperoni that’s been in the refrigerator is notorious for this.

On the other hand, I find cheese underneath is more aesthetically pleasing with other toppings. You can play with making patterns or designs so it looks nice.

The verdict is suus quique… each to his own.

Cooking

Cook at 400°F for 30 minutes using ⅔ timing.

If you cook in dutch ovens in a conventional oven, leave the lids off. I also stack them in the oven by putting a cooling rack on top of the lower dutch oven, and placing the upper dutch oven on the cooling rack.

Some people suggest cooking with the dutch oven upside down. In other words, prepare the crust on the lid, then putting the oven on top (upside down). Unless you have a fancy dutch oven lid with its own legs, you’ll need to set the lid on a trivet to keep the whole assembly from tipping over.

The advantage to doing this is that you don’t have to monkey with getting the pizza out of the dutch oven. I’ve not tried this, personally.

Serving

If you cook this at home, cook in a cast iron skillet since the edges of an ordinary dutch oven are a little tall for easy extraction. With a dutch oven, I work a fork under one edge, then (using gloves) tip the dutch oven to let the pizza slide out onto a pizza pan or other large cutting surface to slice the pizza. After slicing, I slide the pizza to a cooling rack.

Others suggest leaving in the cast iron to keep it hot as people come back for more.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • Raising bread is not hard, but the conditions are a little tricky. It’s like the three bears.
    1. Not too hot. The dough will gelatinize, meaning it will be hot and start to become a little runny, like a batter. Yeast doesn’t like it too hot either.
    2. Not too cold. The yeast won’t thrive, eat the sugar, produce CO₂, and cause the dough to rise.
    3. Just right. About 90°F or so. A very warm room.

    Yes, I’ve made all the mistakes and lived to tell the tale.

  • This recipe makes for a thin crust pizza. I’m experimenting to adjust the recipe upwards for a thicker crust pizza.
  • Be careful rolling out the dough evenly. If it’s uneven, there will be thin spots or holes in the crust. This makes a mess.

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The Fifth Ammendment and You

Why should you care about the Fifth Amendment if you’re not guilty? Find out in this interesting lecture by Professor Duane and Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department.

We’ve seen high-profile cases where otherwise not guilty people — people for whom there was no evidence of wrongdoing — who have gone to prison for years, merely for talking to the police and saying something innocuous that they didn’t know would end up being used against them.

There’s an interesting point made in the lecture, that the things you say to the police, which can help your case can not be used in court. But those that can hurt your case can be used in court.

Beware those “that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him”
Isa. 29:21

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Dutch Oven Recipe: Creamy Chile Chicken

Creamy Chile Chicken (half batch in 12D skillet)

This is not a hot chile recipe. It has a rich and tasty sauce.

This can be served a number of ways, such as over rice, on flatbread, or in tortillas. It goes good in the large “soup bowl” style rolls.

Characteristics

Tried: Yes
Camp Friendly: Yes with preparation
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ovens Needed: One 12″ dutch oven

Ingredients

1/2 stick butter
2 cloves garlic
1 large sweet onion (e.g. Walla Walla)
1½ cups chicken broth
2-4 large green or yellow chiles. I prefer mild yellow chiles for their flavour. Note that in my opinion Jalapeño is the wrong flavour for this recipe.
1 cup milk
3 cups Colby Jack or mild cheddar, grated
8 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Camp Preparation

  1. Bag #1: Finely chop garlic. Slice Onion thinly. Put into bag with butter.
  2. Bag #2: Put flour, salt, pepper into gallon zip lock bag.
  3. Bag #3: Remove seeds from chiles. Slice and put into small zip lock bag.
  4. Bag #4: Cut chicken into 1″ cubes and put into zip lock bag.
  5. Bag #5: Mix broth, milk, and cheese. Put into strong zip lock bag or other suitable container.

Cooking

  1. Put garlic, onion, and butter into dutch oven to start cooking. Cook until onions are transparent.
  2. Put chicken into flour mixture, coat chicken completely with flour.
  3. Cook coated chicken with onions and garlic.
  4. Add broth, milk, and cheese mixture. Add chiles. Stir until thickened.

Serving

Serve over rice, with flat bread or tortillas, or try putting in “soup bowl” rolls.

Notes

  • As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
  • This is not a hot chile recipe. The milk products counteract the heat, so look for chiles that have a rich flavour. Don’t try to amp up the heat by loading it full of hot chiles.
  • For the chile-phobic, substitute green bell peppers.
  • This recipe is works for camping if you prepare ahead of time. Put things in zip-lock bags. This will reduce the mess of trying to prepare food at camp. If you camp in bear country like we do, minimizing food spillage is critical for not turning your camp ground into a bear magnet.
  • The creamy sauce needs the mixture to be brought to a near boil. If the temperature isn’t high enough to break the chemical bonds, it’ll remain soupy. When it thickens, it should happen fairly quickly.

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Cooking Up Self-Respect

Some people have wondered whether it’s appropriate to teach “girl” skills like cooking, cleaning, and sewing to boys. To me, this is not about politically correct notions that men and women are completely interchangeable with the exception of some “plumbing”. It’s about survival skills and self-respect.

I’m not pleased with the low number of kids entering their years of majority not being able to fend for themselves on a basic level. Yes, diets of cold cereal and microwave pizza are expensive and unhealthy — that’s a given — but on a deeper level I see it as a manifestation of an uneducated human. Acquiring food, clothing, and shelter are foundational skills for a person to be able to lay claim to some degree of independence. Take away the luxuries of modern convenient living, and they’d grow desperate.

Some have argued that modern conveniences make these skills obsolete, but what are the results of not knowing one’s way around the kitchen? Reliance on pre-packaged foods. Not knowing how to clean or do laundry? Living in filth and chaos. How, then, is this progress of the human over the previous millennia? Our ancestors would be dumbfounded at our collective ignorance.

The good news is that these skills can be acquired with a little effort. Cooking is the trickiest, but with a few basic principles one can become competent, even pretty good. The key is to find the inner strength to fail through one’s ignorance. Mastering new skills opens up new worlds of understanding and self-respect. This self-education process, when made a habit, allows one to grow out of dependence into an adult mentally.

I feel grateful and fortunate that my mother taught me to cook, clean, and sew. Cleaning can be a grind, and sewing is something one does in an emergency — but I can do it just as willingly as I can shoot a gun, paint a building, paddle a canoe, program a computer, or chop wood. It didn’t throw me into “gender confusion”.

I can’t force my children to learn, or obtain wisdom, but they’ve been eagerly soaking up these skills by associating with my wife and me. When they’re adults we’ll see how much sticks. 🙂

Update 2008-12-08: Fixed typos.

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