there were crock pots, there were Dutch ovens.
There are some historical references to these big old cast iron pots that date back to the seventh century, but it shouldn't be a surprise to find out that Iron Age societies such as the Hittites, as far back as 1500 and 1200 BC, used these handy pots for cooking.
was expensive, so clay pots were used by most until the 17th century. At that point, the manufacturers began producing Dutch ovens cheaply enough so that most modern Europeans could afford them.
Although there is a debate about why the name "Dutch oven" was adopted, it may be because the Dutch were the first to come up with a process to make this type of cast iron pot cheaply. The process was brought back to England, but the pots were still called Dutch Ovens.
Hitting the trail in America, the little appliance quickly earned its reputation for having helped built the Old West -- as cowboys became familiar with the biscuits and beans produced by the Dutch oven over a campfire.
Basically unchanged from the early days, the Dutch oven is still popular with outdoor enthusiasts who have adopted it as their very own. Responsible for creating campfire recipes -- ranging from stews and chili to a complete chicken dinner -- the Dutch oven remains a warm and welcome addition after a long day of blazing the hiking trail.
As most recipes call for a set temperature, Dutch oven charcoal briquette charts are available to let you know how many to use, top and bottom, to achieve the correct level of heat. The rule of thumb is to follow the number stamped on the top of the lid (12 briquettes for a 12-inch dutch oven) and a handful at the bottom.
For more details, check out this short video tutorial on how to master the charcoal-to-Dutch-oven ratio:
While lighter, modern aluminum Dutch ovens are now on the market, nothing beats the old cast iron version for more even heat distribution and durability. Sizes range anywhere from a 5-incher for a camping couple to a 16-inch Dutch oven to feed a crowd.
Also NOTE: like most cast iron cookware, Dutch ovens must be properly seasoned before you begin cooking with them. Or, if you have the extra cash to spend, pre-seasoned Dutch ovens are also available on the market today.
New to Dutch ovens? Craving a hearty meal out in the backyard, the indoor kitchen, or on your next camping trip? Try these easy recipes to see how moist and tasty Dutch oven cooking can be. Also note that, since the lid of your Dutch oven acts as a griddle you can use it to make anything from fried eggs and pancakes to English muffin pizzas. Enjoy!
Dutch Oven Biscuits
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1. Preheat a 12" Dutch oven.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. (These ingredients can also be mixed at home beforehand.)
3. Lightly mix in milk and vegetable oil, being careful not to mix too thoroughly or a tougher texture will be the result!
4. Roll the dough into balls and place in the bottom of the oven and bake until golden brown.
Pot Roast Chicken
If you've never tried juicy, succulent chicken stewed in a Dutch oven before, you're in for a treat.
3 lbs. chicken drumsticks and thighs
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion, sliced
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 teaspoon flour
1. Preheat the Dutch oven. Meanwhile, salt and pepper chicken pieces.
2. Add cooking oil to the bottom of the pot and place chicken chicken skin-side down in a single layer.
3. Let chicken fry until golden brown, then flip and brown the other side.
4. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
5. Now add the garlic, onion, carrots, thyme and rosemary and toss well so the oil coats them thoroughly.
6. Turn down the heat to medium low, and return the chicken pieces back into the oven with the vegetables. Cover and let simmer for an hour.
7. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and while the liquid is still hot rapidly whisk in flour until the juices became a thick sauce.
8. Pour the sauce and vegetables over the chicken and serve.
More about dutch oven cooking around the Web:
Dutch Oven Cooking - Floyd Crandall has put together a nice selection on cooking in and caring for your Dutch Oven. Along with recipes for beans and biscuits, you get advice for cooking meat and potatoes and a wild Dump Cake...