NEW ZEALAND PREPPERS
Disaster Survival Guide!
 


COOKING WITH A DUTCH OVEN

Dutch Oven cooking can be your alternative means for making food for your family should there be no normal means to do so. A Dutch Oven can cook almost anything you can cook in your kitchen oven, but I think it does even better!
Traditionally Dutch Oven is made of cast iron and sits on three legs to keep it above the coals. Cooking pots similar to today's Dutch Ovens have been in use since around the 7th century.

DUTCH OVEN - COOKING WITH A DUTCH OVEN!
DUTCH OVEN
Part of being a Prepper is having alternative means of doing things. As far as cooking goes, Dutch Oven cooking can be your alternative means for making food for your family should there be no normal means to do so. A Dutch Oven can cook almost anything you can cook in your kitchen oven, but I think it does even better!
Traditionally Dutch Oven is made of cast iron and sits on three legs to keep it above the coals. The lid has a rim on it to keep hot coals in place and it has a steel handle to remove it from the heat. Cooking pots similar to today's Dutch Ovens have been in use since around the 7th century. The Dutch Oven has been continually refined into what it is today.

THE DUTCH OVEN
A 12 inch pot is large enough for most meals you cook in a Dutch Oven and recipes can be easily adapted depending on what size your pot is. The popularity of the Dutch Oven was due to its versatility and that still holds true today. You can boil, bake, stew, fry, roast, etc in a Dutch Oven and then some.
In addition to purchasing a Dutch Oven you may want accessories such as lid lifter, heavy-duty tongs, gloves, and a lid holder. None of those are essential, but make life easier. It's advisable to cook in an enclosed fire ring or similar structure to minimize the chance of the fire getting away from you.
Start by getting your coals nice and hot and get your Dutch Oven in place. Once they are good and hot, place your ingredients inside and close the lid. You want to place coals on the top and bottom of the Dutch Oven to get it to the right temperature.
Once you have cooked your meal in your Dutch Oven you will want to clean and season it for it to last a long time! The easiest way to do this is to remove all your food scraps, wash the Dutch Oven in hot water, and then apply cooking oil over its entire inside surface. Heat the Dutch Oven so that the oil is absorbed providing a protective layer. If rust appears remove it quickly using an abrasive such as steel wool or a scrub brush to prolong its life. Wash, rinse, and then season as normal.
Dutch Oven Cooking is an easy way to cook just about anything for your totally off the grid! You don't need anything fancy to get started nor a lot of money.

Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand

SECRETS OF COOKING WITH A DUTCH OVEN.

CHOOSING YOUR DUTCH OVEN
A few important guidelines to keep in mind. Aluminum Dutch ovens weigh about one-third less than their cast iron counterparts. They require no curing, and, like the cast iron pots, can be used over open fires, buried underground, or used with coals or briquettes. However, aluminum ovens do not retain heat as well nor distribute it as evenly as cast iron. The flavoring of foods produced will also be different. Aluminum ovens sometimes give a chalky flavor to foods, whereas iron ovens give a smoked flavor to foods.
Dutch ovens range in size from 8 to 22 inches in diameter. The most commonly used are 10-inch, 12-inch, and 14-inch ovens. The larger ovens hold more if you're cooking for large groups, but they are huge, heavy, and hard to handle.

When buying a cast iron Dutch oven, whether new or used, look carefully at these five important areas:
1. Only buy Dutch ovens with legs. Some are manufactured with flat bottoms and are far more difficult to use.
2. Check the fit of the lid. It should lie flush with the lip of the oven all the way around, with no significant gaps.
3. Check the casting, or thickness, of the metal, especially around the rim. Areas that are 15% (or more) thicker or thinner than the remaining areas will produce hot or cold spots during cooking and cooling.
4. Make sure the lid has a loop handle, cleanly attached to its center.
5. Check the bail (the wire handle) attached to the oven itself. It should be easily movable and strong enough to use for carrying or hanging a heavy pot full of stew without difficulty.

CURING YOUR DUTCH OVEN BEFORE USE
Once you have an oven, it must be cured. This process will keep your oven from rusting and produce an interior coating that will prevent food from sticking. The process is very simple. If you have an old rusty oven, scrub it well and use a fine-grade sandpaper to clean up and expose the entire surface, inside and out. Once the metal is exposed—or if you are curing a new oven—wash the entire oven well with hot soapy water. This will remove the waxy coating from a new oven and the fine metal dust remaining in an old reconditioned one.

Next, heat your Dutch oven, with the lid on, to about 200° in the oven in your home. (You can also do this in a fire, with coals or briquettes.) While the oven is hot, pour or drop in a small amount of oil, shortening, or lard, and while wearing oven mitts or heavy leather gloves, use a clean cotton cloth to wipe the entire surface well, inside and out, to coat it with the shortening, oil, or lard. When the oven is coated, heat it to 350° for an hour. If you do this in your house, expect some smoke. After an hour of heating, let the oven cool slowly. Force-cooling a cast iron oven by putting it in a freezer, snow bank, or outside during a cold rain, can crack or warp it.

Once you have your oven cured, it is ready for cooking. However, after each subsequent use and cleaning, you maintain and strengthen the cure by wiping a very light coat of oil, shortening, or lard over the dry, warm oven.

You never scrape or scour a Dutch oven. Using metal utensils or wire scrubbers or brushes can remove the curing and allow food to stick in the exposed areas unless the oven is re-cured.

Most frequent Dutch oven users have found that wiping out excess food with a paper towel, then washing the pot with hot soapy water and a sponge will produce a clean and sanitary oven. Remember, after cleaning, be sure to dry the oven completely, then wipe a light coat of your chosen oil over the entire surface of your oven, inside and out, legs included, using a paper towel or cotton cloth. Soon your oven will have a beautiful dark brown or black coat that will be amazingly easy to keep clean.

UTENSILS
In addition to the utensils you are familiar with, there are other tools unique to Dutch ovens which will make your efforts safer, easier, and more successful.
1. You will need a pair of loose-fitting leather gloves long enough to cover your wrists.
2. Another tool you will need is a lid lifter. The most typical is a wire-handled hook.
3. Lid holders are also a necessity. This tool may be anything from a clean brick to a three- or four-legged wire rack. It is used to keep hot lids off tables and counter tops or out of the dirt when the cook is adding spices or checking the progress of meals cooking.
4. Long-handled tongs are an invaluable addition to your Dutch oven tools. Even a cheap stainless steel pair will last indefinitely. Tongs are used to place, add, or remove coals as necessary.
5. A small shovel is also important. This small tool, a garden shovel or fireplace shovel, is used for moving coals from a fire, digging a long-cook pit, or burying excess extinguished charcoal.
6. The last special tool you will want to consider is a whisk broom. The broom is used to brush the dirt, ashes, etc., off the lid and side of your oven in preparation for serving.

Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand

HOW TO COOK WITH A DUTCH OVEN
You can prevent burned bottoms, raw tops, and dried-out foods by using properly sized and spaced coals to control the interior oven temperature. Virtually all baked goods can be baked successfully at 350°, which is the ideal temperature for a Dutch oven. To establish and maintain this temperature, the first thing to remember is to use coals from a fire that are roughly the same size as charcoal briquettes. Or, for more consistency, use briquettes. Charcoal briquettes will burn longer and more evenly than coals from a fire. Use the best briquettes you can afford. There is a difference in quality, and the more expensive brands are generally worth the additional cost.

The number and placement of the coals on and under your oven is critical.The optimal number of coals used for any oven is based on its diameter. For example, if you are using a 12-inch oven, you will need two coals per inch, a total of 24. More coals will likely burn your food and less may necessitate too long a cooking period. To determine how many coals go under and how many go on top, remember the magic number 2.

The placement of the coals is also an important part of proper heat regulation. The proper layout for coals or briquettes under the oven is circular. Coals should be approximately one inch apart in a circle under the oven. Never place coals directly under the center of the oven. If you do, you will create a hot spot and burn whatever you are cooking. By placing the coals in a circle, the natural conductivity of the oven will distribute the heat evenly and effectively.

The coals on the lid of the oven should also be placed evenly in a circle along the flange of the outer lid. However, four of the coals should be placed toward the center of the lid, two on either side of the handle. This coal placement will produce an even, consistent temperature within the oven of approximately 350° and maintain that heat for up to two hours.

In the event that you need to generate a higher temperature inside your oven additional coals placed two at a time, one on the lid and one under the oven, will add another 50°. Two additional coals top and bottom would bring your oven's temperature up to 450°. It is extremely rare to need a temperature of 450°, and you should never need one higher than that.

COOKING MEAT
Meats prepared in a Dutch oven are delectable. They have a flavor and aroma you will never duplicate using any other cooking method. While the taste is always exquisite, some Dutch oven users have difficulty producing a visually appealing meat from inside the steamy oven. The secret is simple: regardless of the spice and flavorings you use on any meat or poultry, always brown the meat first.

To brown the meat, place some oil, bacon, or any fatty item in the hot oven to produce a good covering of oil on the bottom, heat the oven, then put the meat you want to cook in the oven and sear or brown it well. This will seal in natural juices and provide the outer texture and color more typical of grilled or fried meats. Once the meat is well browned on all sides, drain off any leftover fat drippings, add whatever seasonings you like, put on the lid, and cook the meat for 30 to 35 minutes per pound of beef, pork, or lamb, or 25 to 30 minutes per pound of poultry.

VEGETABLES
Garden vegetables are a magnificent addition to any Dutch oven dinner. Most Dutch oven vegetables are prepared in a sauce of some type, but they may be steamed or boiled as you would on a traditional stove. However, if you choose to bake or roast Dutch oven vegetables, they should cook for approximately three minutes per inch of oven diameter. A l0-inch oven full of squash should cook for about 30 minutes, a 12-inch oven full for 36 minutes. Vegetables to be cooked in sauces, such as sour cream potatoes, broccoli in cheese sauce, or new peas and potatoes in white sauce, should be brought to a rapid boil first, the water discarded, the sauces added, then baked for the proper time noted for other vegetables.

BREAD
Good Dutch oven breads seem to be a rarity. However, marvelous corn breads, scones, rolls, and sourdough loaves are surprisingly easy to perfect in the old black pot. The larger the oven the better when it comes to cooking breads. A 14-inch oven serves nicely to produce three loaves of bread or up to three dozen rolls or biscuits. To successfully brown breads, however, you must alter the cooking process for the last five to eight minutes of the traditional 25-30 minute, 350° baking time.

First, put a light coat of oil on the interior of a cool oven (including the lid), and let the rolls or bread complete their final rise in the oven prior to applying the coals. Second, place the oven on the coals with the proper number of coals on top as noted earlier. (Remember: no coals directly under the center of the oven.) Third, when there are five to eight minutes left in the cooking time, lift the lid, lightly brush the tops of the breads with butter, replace the lid, then take all the coals from under the oven and distribute them evenly on the top. With all the heat now on the lid, check the bread every couple of minutes until you think it looks perfect. After brushing the coals and ashes from the lid, remove it, tilt the oven over a bread board, and your perfect bread will gently fall out.

Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand
Twizel New Zealand

DUTCH OVEN RECIPES

Prairie chicken
Using the correct number of coals under the oven, brown both sides of enough clean, uncoated chicken pieces to cover the bottom in a hot Dutch oven with a bubbling ¼ inch of oil. When the chicken is browned to your liking, remove the excess oil from the oven and discard. Season the chicken generously with the following pre-mixed coating:

2 Tablespoons each, parsley flakes & thyme
1 Tablespoon each, marjoram, oregano, celery salt, & rosemary
1 teaspoon each, garlic salt, onion salt, ginger, ground black pepper, sage, & paprika

Put lid on oven, arrange coals as noted earlier (top and bottom) and cook for 45 minutes to one hour.

Italian zucchini
Coat and marinate zucchini or summer squash (one per person) for 30 minutes in a mixture of ½ olive oil and ½ lemon juice (A half cup of each will coat enough zucchini for 20 people.) Place one layer of the marinated vegetables in the bottom of the Dutch oven. (A 10-inch oven works great for up to 15 people.) Sprinkle salt, pepper, and a good coating of grated Romano cheese over the layer, then repeat the process, layer upon layer, until all the zucchini is used or until the oven is almost full. Sprinkle extra Romano cheese on the top layer. Place the lid on the oven and cook as noted earlier with the proper number and placement of coals. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes. This is a marvelous tart and tasty vegetable treat, guaranteed.

Trailside beans
½ pound bacon, sliced in small pieces
½ pound mince
½ diced onion1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
Two 33-oz. cans of pork and beans
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons of white vinegar

Cook bacon and ground beef well in a 12-inch Dutch oven. Use 24 coals all on the bottom to start, then separate and place the coals as noted earlier during the baking stage. Before removing excess oil, sauté diced onion, diced red bell pepper, and diced green bell pepper with the meats until the onions and peppers are soft. Drain off excess oil. Add pork and beans, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and white vinegar. Stir well, place lid on oven, and cook with repositioned coals for 90 to 120 minutes.

Check for moisture content every 15 to 20 minutes. (Some ovens allow too much moisture to escape.) If there is not a soupy layer of liquid covering the beans, add water, a little at a time, and stir to maintain the moisture content.

Twizel New Zealand
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