We had a wild hair and cooked Christmas dinner in dutch ovens. Overall it was great.
What Went Well
The turkey roast was a three-pound thing in a net. A sauce of oil, garlic, blackened seasoning and a little cayenne pepper went over the top. An army of baby carrots stood guard. Cooked at 300°F until the cooking thermometer beeped at 170°F. Put it another place, which read 135°F, and waited for it to beep again. After checking other spots, the pot was moved inside to wait for the other dishes. The turkey roast came out very nice.
The drippings were sparse, but made a killer gravy.
The first batch of potato rolls came out perfect. Not as much flour was used so they weren’t as dry as we’ve done before. Golden brown tops made for great presentation.
Charcoal is unreliable when it gets small — it starts out as less heat, but cools down dramatically (including going out). The second batch of rolls came out barely cooked, and thus salvageable.
I finally gave in to the fact that we could use another 12″ dutch oven so everything can be cooked simultaneously.
We forgot to butter the sides of the pot for the rolls, so they stuck a little.
The pie crust was salty. This reminded me why I usually skip salt in a lot of recipes.
I have no idea what I’m doing with pies. I wonder if there’s an evening class on pies. There’s a long list of failures; for example, we couldn’t get it out of the pot without destroying it, so we served it in the pot. I’ve watch expert level cooks work pies. Mine was the pastry rendition of Frankenstein’s monster.
This is a fair bit of work, but very rewarding. You could prepare everything ahead of time at home and transport the dutch ovens to an event during step 10. I assume you could simply replace the damp towel with the lids, as they’re fairly tight and shouldn’t let the moisture out. I have not tried this.
Two 12″ dutch ovens
sugar, fructose, or other sugar
butter or margarine, softened
Mix 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast. The sugar is food for the yeast. Splenda or another artificial sweetener will NOT work. Do not ajdust the quantity.
Let the mixture stay warm; the water will tend to cool.
Mix the other ½ cup of warm water and potatoes. Add to the yeast.
Mix in butter, eggs, and 2 cups of flour. Mix really well. The consistency will be like cake batter.
Cover with a damp (NOT wet) towel and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Scrub clean a large surface. Slowly mix in the remaining flour until not gooey. Sprinkle flour on the surface and knead for five minutes. Sprinkle flour on the dough so it doesn’t stick all over your hands.
Take a stick of butter out of the refrigerator and rub it on the inside of a large bowl. Put the ball of dough in it, cover with a damp (NOT wet) towel and let it rise for 1-1½ hours in a very warm place. Note to self: See note on step #10 below.
Take out of the bowl, and knead for a minute, sprinkling flour again so it doesn’t stick to everything.
Divide the dough into equal halves. Each half will divide four times, for 16 rolls. Arrange in a greased 12″ dutch oven, spread out evenly. Repeat with the other half, filling a second dutch oven.
Cover each D.O. with a damp (NOT wet) towel and let rise for 1-1½ hours in a very warm place. Note to self: Ensure the place is warm. One D.O. was in a very warm place, the other was not. Guess which one did not rise until placed in the very warm place?
Bake at 375º 15-20 minutes, using ⅔ timing.
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.
Note that I have a family member who has a sucrose intolerance, so there’s extra verbiage belaboring the point that this is a situation where the quantity of simpler sugars is important. If the yeast can’t eat, they can’t produce CO₂, and the bread won’t rise. Enough of that. 🙂