Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dutch Oven Roast/Braise Turkey

I’ve enjoyed cooking turkeys for celebration for a long time. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc... One thing I really like about turkey is that there are so many ways to cook it. Roasted, deep fried, smoked, etc, there are a million ways. I was surprised, then, to hear about another, different, way to do it in the Dutch oven. A roast/braise!

A braise is where meat is cooked in a certain amount of simmering liquid. It’s usually done in smaller pieces. In this case, I did the entire turkey, and combined the techniques of roasting and braising.

14” Dutch oven

14-16 coals below
16-20 coals above

1 10-12 lb turkey
garlic powder

4 cups apple juice (with no additional sweetener)
juice of 2 lemons
4 cups water or stock

zest of the lemons
4-6 potatoes, sliced
4-6 stalks celery, diced
3-6 medium onions, diced or sliced
2-4 sweet peppers, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced

I started out with the turkey, thawing it overnight. Usually, I’ll brine a turkey by putting about half to 3\4 of a cylindrical package of salt into a drink cooler, along with a 16 oz pac of brown sugar. I put in a little hot tapwater and dissolve it, then add a lot of cold water, enough to float and cover the turkey. Then I’ll soak that overnight, thawing and seasoning the bird.

I did that this time, but, because of the braising, I’m not sure it’s totally necessary to brine. It does need to be thawed, however.

The next day, after lighting up some coals, I drained the turkey and patted it dry. I also pulled out the neck and giblets. Usually, I save these for stockmaking.

I got out the Dutch oven and put the turkey in, resting it right on the base of the oven. I sprinkled on pretty liberal amounts of the seasonings and herbs listed above, and rubbed them into the skin. I put the lid on and set the Dutch oven to the coals.

Much of the effort in cooking this dish is maintaining the heat. It was cold out, so I spent much of my time indoors. I used a timer set for every 20 minutes to remind myself to refresh the coals on the oven, and replenish the coals in the chimney.

Once the oven was heated up and cooking, I prepared the braise. I started by zesting the lemons, because it’s very hard to zest a squeezed lemon. Then I mixed the apple juice and lemon juice. I mixed gradually, tasting along the way. I wanted a good balance between the acid and sweet. Once I’d found it, I poured it into the Dutch oven and added the water. You could use stock, but I found the cooking turkey turned the liquid into a pretty rich stock anyway.

After about 2 to 2 1\2 hours of braising and roasting, the turkey was at about 150 degrees. I chopped up the veggies in the next set of ingredients, stirred them up, along with the zest, and added them to the Dutch oven on either side of the turkey.

Adding in all those veggies will, of course, throw off the cooktime. After about another hour, the turkey was approaching 160. That’s getting close to done, but I find that I’m more certain of done-ness at about 175 or even 180.

Here’s where the full braising comes in. I took the bird out of the Dutch oven (carefully, to keep it intact) and did a very basic carving. I cut off the legs and the thighs, and separated them. I sliced the breasts off in chunks. I took off the wings, too. I could see, as I was carving, that the meat was juicy, succulent, but not quite fully done.

That was fine, because the final step was to lay the meat back in the Dutch oven on top of the broth and veggies to do a full braise.

At that point, it’s a good idea to start setting the table, because it will probably only need another 30 to 45 minutes to get to full doneness.

Oh, let me tell you, when you serve up the sliced meat in a bowl with the veggies and the flavored broth, it is incredible!

And you can use the bones and remaining meat with the neck and giblets for stock.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dutch Oven Shrimp Bisque

Once we went to a really fancy italian restaurant, and my sons both tried the lobster bisque. They had heard some comedian talking about it, so they had to try it. Well, of course, they loved it.

I tasted it, too, and I was really impressed. Naturally, when I’m impressed, I want to try to make it. So, I did some research and found some good recipes. Unfortunately, lobster if quite expensive. I decided to do it with shrimp, which, of course, isn’t cheap, either, but at least it’s not as pricey as lobster.

It has a lot of steps, but it’s very flavorful, because of the shrimp stock you make!

2x 12” Dutch oven

each with 20+ coals below

2-3 lbs shrimp
6-8 cups water
1 14 oz can tomato paste

1 1/2 medium onion
3-4 stalks celery, including leaves
3-4 carrots

fresh parsley
chili powder
lemon juice

6 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch

There are a few ways you could approach this bisque. One way is to use uncooked, unshelled shrimp. Another is to use shrimp that are uncooked, deveined (but still in the shell). A third is to use whole shrimp, complete with the heads. The more stuff that comes with the shrimp, the more flavor you’ll have in your stock. It’s more work, but I’d recommend the whole shrimp. It doesn’t really make a lot of difference how big the shrimp is, either. For this instance, I used uncooked, unshelled shrimp (no heads) that are about the size you normally see in shrimp platters.

I started out with one of my 12" shallow Dutch ovens, covered, with the water.  Once the water was boiling, I tossed in the shrimp and watched them turn that sweet pink\orange shade and curl. If you cook the shrimp too long, they get all rubbery. Once they were done, I pulled them out of the water, but left the Dutch oven on the coals.

Then, I doused them in cold water while I peeled the shells, tails, and deveined them. I threw away the veins, of course, but the shells and tails (and heads if you’ve got them) all went back into the stock to boil some more.  I set aside the shrimp meat, reserving it for later. Once all the shrimp shells and parts were happily boiling away, I added the tomato paste.

I put the lid on and let that boil for a long time. How long? Well, that kinda depends on how much time you have. The longer it boils, the more flavorful the stock. I let it go for about an hour.

As that time was nearing an end, I got a second dutch oven on some coals, with just a bit of oil in the bottom, and I started dicing up the veggies in the second set of ingredients. I tossed those in the second Dutch oven and cooked them until they were quite soft. Then, I took them off the coals and mashed them with the back of a slotted spoon. It will be a coarse mash, and that’s OK.

Then, I strained out all of the garbage out of the stock, and added the smooshed veggies. Then I added in all of the seasonings in the third set of ingredients. Finally, I added in the cream and let it heat and simmer for about another half hour. As it was simmering, I made a slurry of the cornstarch and water, enough to make it very loose and runny (no clumps). I added that in, about a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the bisque. A hint: give some time in between each dose of starch for it to effect the soup, otherwise, you’ll add too much.

Finally, just before serving, I stirred the shrimp meat back into the soup so that it could come back up to serving temperature, and started ladeling out the bowls! It was delicious! I think it would also be great to serve in a bread bowl...

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dutch Oven Curry Mint Chicken

I’m honestly not really sure where the inspiration for this dish came from. My son, in his culinary classes in high school, had to learn how to and practice carving up a chicken (called “fabricating”). He had shown me one way to do this about a year ago, but this time, he’d learned a way with some slight variations. He showed me this new way, and I took pictures along the way, so I’ll probably include all that here in the blog eventually. It’s a very useful skill to have.

So, of course, as he was practicing these skills, we had a bunch of chicken on hand that needed to be used for something, right? Not gonna throw it away, right?

12” shallow Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
16-18 coals above

Whole chicken, cut up or about 3-5 lbs of chicken parts

1 1/2 - 2 cups plain yogurt
1 Tbsp Curry powder
~ 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
~ 1 tsp Salt
a few shakes Chili powder
~1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves


The first step is to prepare the meat.  If you’re cutting up a whole chicken, that would probably take about a half hour. Since the breasts were the largest pieces of the chicken, I cut each one in half, so that it was about the same size as a thigh. Once it was all cut up into pieces, I made sure they were dry, and seasoned each piece with salt and pepper. I set these aside.

If you don’t carve up a whole chicken, you can just use packaged breasts, thighs, or other pieces. You can use frozen chicken pieces, too, but make sure that they’re well-thawed and patted dry. Then season them and set them aside.

The next step was to mix up the baste. I started with the yogurt. Someday, I’d like to try this with greek-style yogurt, because I really like the texture. But this particular week, I didn’t like the price, so I just went with generic plain yogurt. I mixed in the curry powder and stirred that in. Different manufacturers make different curry powders. Some are more yellow, others, more red. Some are hot, some are more mild and zingy. You can adapt to whatever you’ve got as long as you taste along the way. Then, I added the other spices and flavorings, stirring and tasting as I went.

Decide in advance how hot you want to result to be, and shoot for that level with the chili powder. Be cautious with it. Add a little, taste, then add a little more, etc... Be aware that the yogurt will cool the capsaicin a little, so the heat will come on kind of as an after taste.

Finally, be liberal with the mint. That adds a rich coolness to the tang of the yogurt and the spice of the curry and chilli powder.

Then, I went out and lit up the coals.  While they were getting glowy, I chopped up the onions and potatoes into 1” sized chunks and tossed them together into the Dutch oven. They’ll be delicious, and will lift the chicken up out of the juices that will gather at the bottom.

The last step is to layer the chicken pieces over the onions and potatoes, and the thickly slather the yogurt mix over the top of the chicken. Close up the lid, add the coals above and below and begin baking.

I cooked them until they were at an internal temperature of about 175℉. Chicken is actually safe to eat at around 160, but if you cook it longer, it falls off the bone more, and is more done. It won’t dry out in a Dutch oven, because the heavy lid traps the moisture. It took about 40-50 minutes for it to be done. About half-way, I put on more baste.

In the end, it was delicious! The leftovers the next day were even more flavorful, as the herbs absorbed deeper into the yogurt.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


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