However, attending the demonstration was an eye-opener for me at how easy Dutch oven cooking could be! I had always thought of my Dutch oven as sort of a fun thing to occasionally wow people with while camping and to show off a little. I had seen it as this bulky pot that I could barely lift and that had to sit under my feet in the car for lack of space. When I told the demonstrator that I had inherited a 14 inch deep Dutch oven, his response was, "Whoa, that's 10 quarts of food!" It was his disbelief that I was actually using a pot that big that inspired me to go buy a "baby" 10 inch Dutch oven. This pot completely changed the way I feel about Dutch oven cooking. The techniques I learned made the Dutch oven a joy to use, and with the smaller pot it is completely manageable! For our last camping trip of the season, a six-day trip to Fort Stevens, OR, I used the pot 4 times!
Here is one of the dishes I made, a greek beef dish called Stifado inspired by Beatrice Ojakangas' book, The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, that I adapted to work in my Dutch oven. Hands down, it was the best dish I've ever made while camping.
Greek Beef Casserole in the Dutch oven by Joie de vivre
1/4 c. canola oil
2 1/2 lbs. top round beefsteak, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbls. red wine vinegar
1 c. water
1 tsp. rosemary
2 Tbls. tomato puree
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole allspice berries
2 small onions, chopped roughly
4 potatoes (I used white ones) cut into large bite sized pieces
1. To make cooking while camping easier, chop your meat at home before placing it in a doubled Ziplock baggie in your ice chest. Also, pre-measure and place the rosemary, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice in a little ziplock baggie prior to your trip.
2. Preheat your Dutch oven by placing it over your chimney starter while your coals are lighting. Make sure to leave space for oxygen to get to your coals and be careful of your arms! Make sure Dutch oven is steady. When the Dutch oven is pre-heated, add the canola oil and the beef. Stir the beef until it is browned.
3. Drain the beef and add all of the remaining ingredients. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and cook at 350 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes. (*A Note about Dutch Ovens* You can get 350 degrees in a 10 or 12 inch Dutch oven, by placing about 7 coals underneath, and about 10-12 coals on top. Use long handled tongs to move the coals from your chimney starter to the bottom and the top of your Dutch oven. Every 15 minutes or so, turn the pot a quarter of a turn clockwise, and turn your lid a quarter of a turn counterclockwise to ensure even heat distribution. After 45 minutes, you will need to add fresh, hot charcoal briquettes to the bottom and top of the oven to ensure even heat as well.)