Back to Basics: Dutch Oven Cooking
Here we are, with a grand built-in Thermador oven that bakes, broils, micro-waves and has convection power. There is one problem, though, when I am baking a cake, pie, etc., and need the microwave, you just wait. Such inconvenience! You are also able to bake food with the convection and microwave on at the same time. The book tells you how. I tried it. My roast was tougher than a piece of leather. I guess I am not quite ready for all this technology.
In reading Shirley MacLaine and her theory of life before, now and future, perhaps I am a relic from the past resurrected to bypass some of this fabulous cooking technology.
Dutch oven cooking, meanwhile, has been around for a long time. Living out of doors, it was the most useful and necessary “pot” one could possess. Amazingly, it is capable of cooking a vast array of foods; whether covered with coal, placed on the stove, or popped in the oven. Your choice.
The best Dutch Oven should be cast iron. Aluminum is available, but I would bypass it. It should have a tightfiting cover, that can be inverted and used as a griddle or fry pan. In a Dutch oven, you can boil, fry, saute, braise, roast and even make bread.
Typically a Dutch oven runs 10-16 inches in diameter and four to six inches deep. To season it before using, rub a good quality shortening on all inside surfaces. Place on stove until shortening begins to smoke Wipe dry and its ready to use. After use, wash with hot water and avoid detergents. No rusting this way.
A good rule of thumb for outdoor use is, if you use briquets, use eight briquets evenly distributed beneath the pot, and 15-18 more on the lid for a 12 inch Dutch Oven. Dig your hole in the round to accommodate depth. Cover with heavy aluminum foil. This will give you a temperature of about 350-375 degrees.L,et’s start with Bannock Bread. A true basic and delightful treat.
2 cups flour
2 Tbl. sugar
2 Tbl. shortening
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. dried milk generous pinch salt
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add water to make firm dough (no dry spots, but not sloppy wet.) Press dough 1-inch thick. Warm Dutch oven. Grease bottom and dust with flour. Lay in dough and bake until firm. Top with thick jam made with fresh summer fruits. Unlike quick breads, which rely on soda as a leavening agent, this is also good cold and packs well. Enjoy…!