12 Oct 2008: Dutch Oven Cooking Experiment


Dutch Oven Stand

Verdict: Great tool. I would like a couple more.
Where It Worked Well:

  • Keeping coals off of wood deck.
  • Place to put coals for bottom heat. Stable.

What I Would Tweak In Its Design:

  • I would prefer slightly larger, perhaps 2-3″ per side.

Wire Trivet

Verdict: Great tool. I would like a couple more.
Where It Worked Well:

  • Raising pot off coals.
  • Protecting surfaces from hot pot.
  • Holder for inverted lid.

Where It Worked Poorly:

  • Too tall to work as in-pan trivet.

Wisk Broom

Verdict: Necessary, but fair tool.
Where It Worked Well:

  • Removing bulk of ash.

Where It Worked Poorly:

  • Removing last layer of fine ash. Blowing with breath removed enough. Try compressed air.

Other Equipment Notes

  • I prefer the leg-bearing and flanged D.O.s to the unflanged pot. Buy an additional 10″ D.O.
  • I would like a 10″ deep skillet with skillet lid, like the 12″ we have. I’m suspicious about ash in the food.
  • I would like an additional 12″ D.O. so I can make a full batch of potato rolls.
  • I wonder whether I could get frying temperatures with a smaller chimney.
  • Compressed air can seemed to remove all the dust and ash.


Corn Bread

Verdict: Very good. Slightly burned on bottom.
What Worked: Adding a couple of bricks to raise temperature.
Tweaks to Try:

  1. A couple fewer bricks, or remove bottom heat earlier.
  2. Take out of D.O. and let cool on rack. If you let it cool in the D.O. condensation makes the bottom soggy after a while.
  • M. made corn bread in her 10″ D.O. She did everything except place the initial set of coals on the D.O.
  • I counted out 10±3 bricks, added 2 bricks to raise temperature from 325° to 350°, and added 2 more bricks because it was slightly cold.
  • We used ⅔ timing.

Peach Cobbler

Verdict: Failure. Burned on top. The rest was overcooked.
What Worked: Draining peaches.
Tweaks to Try: Watch the clock.

  • Used the 10″ pot without the flange or legs.
  • Raised the pot on the trivet so it was not sitting directly on the coals
  • Lost track of time. Looks like the peach goo on the bottom protected it from burning.
  • Cobbler flipped upside down just fine. Some peach goo stuck to the bottom.

Potato Rolls

Verdict: Slightly overcooked, visually perfect.
What Worked: Letting rolls raise in warm oven.
Tweaks to Try: If they’re just starting to turn golden, they should be done.

  • Prepared dough, placed one batch in the 12″ D.O. and the other in the 12″ deep frying pan with the frying pan lid for the final raising.
  • My intention was to cook the D.O. outside, and the pan in the oven so we’d have at least one good set of rolls if I ruined the D.O. batch.
  • I put the D.O. in the warm oven. The pan I put in my office.
  • The D.O. rolls rose perfectly. The office was apparently not warm enough for the yeast, and didn’t rise properly.
  • Dinner was pending, so I threw the D.O. in the oven and let L. care for it.
  • Repeated last time’s mistake. After 10 minutes the rolls were done, but not not all of them golden. Put them in for another 5 minutes. They were golden, but a bit overcooked.
  • The rolls were stuck to the bottom of the pan and a little brittle on the bottom because they were slightly overcooked. Could not flip them out.
  • Put the pan in the warm oven to let the other rolls finish rising. Will cook later tonight.

Spaghetti Sauce

Verdict: Perfect given limited ingredients.
What Worked:

  1. Putting pan directly on coals.
  2. I went easy on the home-grown basil. It’s much more potent than the store-bought basil.

Tweaks to Try: Use pan with lid.

  • Cooked in 10″ cast iron frying pan.
  • Chimney is only good for low heat. It is no good for frying temperatures.
  • Cooked directly on coals for higher temperatures.
  • Do not cook next to downwind D.O. I’m suspicious that some ash may have been blown into sauce, but nobody could tell whether it was true.
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