Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Sourdough Adventure, Part II

As instructed, every day, I've been taking some goo out of the bowl and replacing it with fresh flour and water. The first few times, I only took out about a half cup, because there didn't seem to be much more than a whole cup in there. I guess it settles or something as it ferments? Anyway, then I'd add a half cup of warm water and a half cup of flour and stir it all up again.

Last night, it was much more bubbly and frothy than before, so much so that I said to myself that this is what they must've been talking about. I'll keep watching it. And reporting...

And, thanks to the many people who have commented and emailed with their suggestions, advice, and recipes! I've been learning a lot!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Sourdough Adventure, Part I

Yesterday, I was surfin' the 'net, and I found some good (and funny!) instructions on how to make sourdough. I've been wanting to do some sourdough bread for quite a while, so I decided to give it a try.

So, the first thing I did was to find a container, as he instructed. I mixed in 1 cup of warm water, and 1 cup of flour. Also, at his suggestion, I "seeded it" with a dash of yeast. not much, actually, but it seems to have had an impact.

So, yesterday, a day after starting the starter, I went to "feed" it. I scooped out 1 cup of the gunk (and believe me, it was gunky), and mixed in a half cup of warm water, and a half cup of flour. The instructions say to do this every day for a week. The instructions also say that when it's bubbly and frothy, it's done, and it can be refrigerated.

Well, it looks pretty bubbly and frothy to me already. Maybe I shouldn't have seeded it...

Well, I can't use it until the weekend anyway, so I'll just keep doing the feeding thing, and let you know how it goes. Maybe it'll grow and grow until it becomes sentient and devours my kitchen and takes over the WORLD, muahahahahahahaha!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

World-wide Dutch Ovening

I just got this link from the Dutch Oven Cooking Yahoogroup. Great group, by the way.

It shows the website of the JDOS, the Japanese Dutch Oven Society. Who knew there even was one? So often, when we think of cooking in the dutch ovens, we think of the American west, but it truly is beyond our borders. There were pictures at the site from their annual cookoff. At least I guess it’s annual, I can’t read Japanese, but that’s sort of the implication. What I found fascinating about it was that with the exception of their faces, those pictures could have been shot at any dutch oven gathering or cookoff here in America. The same smiles, the same eager cooks, even some of the same recipes as we have here.

And, of course, the same dutch ovens!

In my mind, it just goes to support my theory that if we truly wanted world peace, we’d just get everyone in the world to sit down to dinner. No agendas, no summits, no arguments, just food.

And actually, asian food is one cuisine that I've not really explored much yet in my dutch oven, other than my foray into India. I'd really love to hear if anyone out there has done any asian dishes, and what those recipes were!

In the meantime, I’d encourage you to click into the site and check out the pictures. Get to know dutch oven cooks all over the world!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Turkey and Ham in the Dutch Ovens

We had a lot of people in for Thanksgiving this year. It was our first Thanksgiving in the new house, and I think Jodi kinda wanted to show it off a bit. I guess technically, it was the second, but last year, we had only been in the house about a week. No time to set up for a party.

My sister and bro-in-law came out and I spent a good time talking with them. They are both excellent cooks, and gave me some good advice. One of the problems I have with biscuits and soda bread is that it doesn’t rise like I want it to. She said that non-yeast leavening should be put into a hot oven. I usually just put things into the oven and then put them on the coals. I didn’t realize it would make a difference. They also had some good advice about the balance of wet and dry in breads.

So, anyway.

You know, there are so many ways to do a turkey, and so many recipes it’s just amazing. I’ve been reading over on the dutch oven yahoogroup about all the ideas and methods and recipes, and it’s just amazing. While I’m giving thanks, I’ll give all my friends over there some good thanks for all their advice and help this last year.

I did the same herbal roast turkey that I did for Christmas last year, from Byron’s. I did it pretty much straight as he lists it. Still, I’ll include the recipe here. We also did one of that in the regular oven, because I could only fit a 13 lb turkey in my 14” Dutch oven. Then, in the 12” deep dutch oven, I did ham recipe of my own design. I’ll write the recipes up separate, even though I roasted them concurrently.

Byron’s Dutch Oven Herb Roasted Turkey

14” Deep dutch oven

15-18 coals on top
24-28 coals below

Turkey Stuffing

• 1 onion; quartered
• 3-4 slices bread (I used sourdough rye)
• 3 tbsp melted butter
• 12 bay leaf
• 2 Tsp minced garlic
• Salt
• Pepper (I like it coarse ground)


• 13 lb. turkey
• 2 more Tsp minced garlic
• Salt
• 1 cup water

OK, I started out with the turkey, and began by mixing the stuffing ingredients and removing the neck and giblets, and various pouches that the company sticks in the turkey. I’d kept it in the fridge to thaw for the last few days, and took it out early in the morning. I wanted to have it on the coals by 10, to get it on the table by 2:30 or 3:00, including carving time. A 13 lb turkey isn’t going to have very much room for stuffing so I didn’t really do that much. But I stuffed it in the body cavity and set the turkey in the 14” dutch oven. Then I rubbed the additional minced garlic onto the body and sprinkled some salt over it. Then, I added a cup of water to the dutch oven, for steaming, and closed it up. I put that on the coals.

Basting Sauce

• 1/2 cup butter
• 1 tsp. dried mint leaves
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp. dried sage
• 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
• 1/2 tsp. sweet basil
• 1 tsp. celery salt
• 1 tsp. salt

In the 8” dutch oven, I combined all of the basting sauce ingredients, and simply set that on top of the turkey dutch oven lid, using those upper coals to melt the butter and simmer the sauce.

From then on, it was simply a matter of keeping the coals fresh and basting the turkey occasionally. The total cooking time was about 4 hours.


• 7 medium potatoes; sliced
• 2-3 carrots; peeled & sliced

About an hour to an hour and a half from serving time, I sliced up the potatoes and the carrots and just dumped them in around the bird.

I didn’t bother with mashing the potatoes, I just served them alongside. Someone else in the family brought the mashed potatoes, anyway.

Some folks I’d been talking to mentioned that a dutch oven turkey doesn’t brown up like an oven-baked turkey. While that’s true, I found that this one did brown up quite nicely on top. I imagine that’s because of it’s proximity to the lid with coals on. I did try and keep the coals toward the edges rather than in the middle of the lid, so it wouldn’t burn.

Mark's Dutch Oven Honey Mustard Ham

12” deep dutch oven

12 coals below
14 coals above

• A medium-sized bone-in ham
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup deli mustard
• ½ cup soy sauce
• 8-10 whole cloves

I started by putting the ham in the dutch oven. I actually had to cut it up into chunks to make it fit, and one chunk is still in the fridge. This would have been better in my 14”, but that was being used by the turkey. I also sliced diagonals back and forth across the surface of the ham, to let the seasonings seep in.

I mixed all the other ingredients in a bowl, and then just smoothed that over the surface of the ham.

Then, I put that on the coals. There was a lot of liquid in the ham, so as I baked it, from time to time, I’d open up the dutch oven, scoop up the liquid, and baste it over the meat. I cooked the ham just as long as the turkey.

Keeping the heat on was tricky. I went through a LOT of coals. You have to watch the under coals, because it’s easy to pay attention to when the coals on top are burning down, but the ones on the bottom need to be replaced, too.

Well, this was a long one, but I hope it helps you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dutch Oven Pork Chops with Dressing and Glaze

We had a whole bunch of friends coming over last Sunday night. Not being sure what to cook initially, we settled on pork chops, since that’s what we had. I did some digging around and found some good recipes, as usual, over at Byron’s. Unfortunately, as I tried it, I messed it up a bit. Since we had lots of people coming over, I spread the dressing part over three dutch ovens. Two of them for pork, and one for chicken (one of our guests is muslim, and doesn’t eat pork).

That made the ratio of stuffing to water all off, and ended up with mush. It tasted good, and all the spices in the dressing added to the meat, but it wasn’t a great texture.

So, today’s recipe is another one of those where I post how I shoulda dun it instead of how I did dun it.

Dutch Oven Pork Chops with Herbal Dressing and Orange Glaze

12” Dutch Oven

18 coals above
9 coals below

The Meat

  • 4-6 pork chops
  • salt and pepper to taste

The Dressing

  • 2 medium onions; diced
  • 3 stalks celery; diced
  • 1 cube butter, sliced (to mix more evenly)
  • 5-6 slices of bread, diced (I used sourdough rye)
  • 1 large apple; cored, peeled, and diced
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbs. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

8” Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below

The Glaze

  • 4 oranges; juice & zest
  • ½ cup orange or pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2-3 Tbs. cornstarch

I started by mixing all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Then, because there were a lot of people coming over, and I had a lot of meat, I put the dressing evenly on the bottom of three dutch ovens. In this case, I would recommend not doing that. Put it all in one dutch oven. Then rub the pork chops with liberal shakes of salt and coarse ground pepper, or maybe even a commercial steak seasoning. Arrange the pork chops above the dressing. It’s ok to overlap some if you have to. Then put it on the coals. Because there’s bread on the bottom, I would turn this oven frequently to avoid the hot spots.

While that was cooking, I prepared the glaze. I shaved the zest off the orange skin, and chopped it up to be a bit finer. That went right into the 8” dutch oven. I juiced the oranges right into the dutch oven, too. That was all that the original recipe called for. But it looked like not enough liquid, as I had squeezed the juice just with my bare hands, not a juicer. So, I added the pineapple juice. Then I added all the other glaze ingredients, except the cornstarch. That went on some coals right away also. I got it boiling pretty quickly, and I adjusted the coals to a pretty steady simmer.

Once it was boiling, I took the lid off to help it boil down and thicken. I added the cornstarch a little bit at a time, waiting a bit between each application to see how thick it was going to become.

The pork chops cooked about 45 minutes to an hour, and by that time the glaze was pretty nice and thick, too. Pull it off the coals. Scoop up the dressing that’s under the pork chop and serve them together. Pour some glaze on top. It is delicious!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Guest Blogger: Brendon's Dutch Oven Meat Salad

Hi, my name is Brendon. I’m Mark’s son, and I do dutch oven, too.

Today, I got to cook in the dutch oven with my own recipe. This is my “meat salad.” I call it meat salad because there’s lots of meat, and there’s some vegetables, too. You can choose any three meats, but we did sausage, hamburger, and chicken. You can also choose your own vegetables. And here’s my recipe

Brendon’s Meat Salad

10” Dutch oven
8 coals below, 15 coals above

12” Dutch oven
9 coals below, 17 coals above

  • ½ lb of pork sausage
  • ½ lb of ground beef
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 3 medium red potatoes, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Seasoning salt
  • Steak seasoning
  • Salad seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp flour

First, slice the chicken into strips. Form the sausage and hamburger into meatballs (or whatever shape you like). Put the meat into the 12” dutch oven. Add a few shakes of seasoning salt and steak seasoning.

Then, put the sliced vegetables into the 10” dutch oven. Add the butter and a few shakes of salad seasoning.

Put each dutch oven on the coals and cook for 20 minutes, stirring the vegetables. Mix both dutch ovens into the 12”, stir and cook for 20 more minutes. Once mixed together, add the flour and stir it to thicken the juices.

It tasted really good! This is the third time I’ve cooked in the dutch ovens, and had only a little help from dad.

Tell me how you liked it when you try it!

Extra comments from Mark: Brendon is a young guy, about to turn 10, and he's taken to helping me cook, when he's not playing his Nintendo DS, or watching "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy." This time, he asked me to let him cook. So, we talked about his recipe ideas, and got all the ingredients together. He's quite inventive. And it actually turned out very delicious! I'm quite proud of my young black pot chef!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mark's Dutch Oven Biscuits and Gravy

The first time I ever had biscuits and gravy was at a scout camp. Our patrol piled into the mess hall alongside everyone else’s patrols one morning, and we were served big bowls full of biscuits. That was cool enough. After the generic non-denominational “grace” was said, everyone but me started grabbing biscuits, tearing them open and laying them out on their plates. I had some biscuits, but I was wondering where the butter and jam was.

Then they started pouring this white gravy all over them. I’d never heard of this before! But it looked really good. So, I joined in, and it was amazing. The best breakfast food I’d ever had.

So, for some reason, I remembered that this week, and wanted to recapture that. I decided that this weekend, I would cook a Saturday morning breakfast (Sunday morning is too hectic).

It was a little tricky working on both dishes and timing them out to be done at about the same time. I also had a little trouble with the biscuits. I need to do more of those, to get some good practice.

Mark’s Dutch Oven Biscuits and Gravy

10” Dutch Oven
15-18 coals below

12” Dutch Oven
12 coals below, 24 coals above (for 500 deg. F)

The Gravy

  1. ½ lb -1 lb ground breakfast sausage
  2. 1 medium chopped onion
  3. 2 ½ Tbsp flour
  4. ½ Cup Buttermilk
  5. 1 ½ Cups Milk
  6. A shake or two of:
    1. Salt
    2. Black pepper
    3. Celery salt
    4. Parsley
    5. Cinnamon
    6. Worcestershire sauce

The Biscuits

  1. 2 Cup + flour
  2. ½ tsp baking soda
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 2 Tbsp Shortening
  5. 1 Cup Buttermilk

I started out cooking the sausage in the 10” dutch oven. I also chopped up the onion and added that. While that was working, I started on the biscuits.

I mixed the dry ingredients, then added the shortening, cutting it all together with a pastry knife. Then I mixed in the Buttermilk, and continued cutting with the pastry knife. After it was well mixed, I kneaded it a bit, and then rolled it out on the floured countertop. I suspect that I worked it too much, because they didn’t “poof” up much in the oven. They tasted great, but they were more thin, and not as fluffy. I might have also rolled them too thin. The recipe said a half inch. I might have rolled it out too flat. Brendon was helping me with all this, too, which was fun.

The recipe also called for the dutch oven to be pre-heated to 500. I did light up enough coals, but I didn’t preheat the oven. I wonder if that also effected the fluffiness.

So, once the biscuits were in the oven and waiting to go on the coals, I mixed the flour into the now-browned sausage and onions in the 10” dutch oven, and then added the milk and spices. I left that on to heat up and thicken.

I put the biscuits on and under the coals, and that was, frankly, a lot of heat. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything at 500 before. I turned the biscuits several times, and I think I cooked them a total of about 25-30 minutes. The recipe called for 10-12 minutes, but then, I didn’t preheat the oven either.

The biscuits baked, the gravy thickened, and finally it was time to bring it all in and try it. It was delicious. I knew as I smelled all those spices in the gravy that it was going to be heavenly. I wasn’t disappointed.

The biscuits, like I said, tasted great, but were thin, and not so light. I really need to practice that.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dutch Oven Chicken Rolls, Au Gratin Potatoes

I just can’t figure out the chimney.

A long time ago, I got one of those metal cylinders with the handle on it, and it’s supposed to make it so that you can light charcoal and heat it up more quickly. Supposedly, you should be able to put some newspaper underneath, coals on top, and light it. The flames, they say, from the paper ignite the charcoal, and the convection of air through the holes in the bottom carry the heat upwards, igniting the rest of the charcoal and getting it good and hot.

Even though that’s what is supposed to happen, it’s never, ever worked for me.

Well, today, I found that I was out of lighter fluid (it’s what I usually use). So, I thought I’d give it one more try. I tried all kinds of configurations. Newspaper below, charcoal above was one. Another was newspaper below, then charcoal, then newspaper, then more charcoal…

Nothing. The paper burned beautifully. Never caught the charcoal. What am I doing wrong?

Finally, I just went to a neighbor and borrowed some starter fluid. Then it lit right up.

I made two dishes today. One was a recipe for Cashew Chicken. After deciding to do it, I realized that I didn’t have half the ingredients, including the cashews. So, I just sort of muddled through with what I had. It did turn out pretty well, all things considered. The second was for Au Gratin Potatoes. They both turned out great.

Dutch Oven Cream Cheese Chicken Rolls (Without Cashews)

8” Dutch Oven
12” Dutch Oven

Lots of coals, once it really gets cooking in the 12” dutch oven, 8-9 below and 16-18 or so on top

But first, I marinaded some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I did five. You can really pick up whatever commercial marinade you happen to have. This time, I used a Ginger & Sesame marinade with some minced garlic and a lot of lemon juice. Italian dressing with some extra seasonings would work great, too. I let that marinade for a couple of hours.

Then, in the 8” dutch oven, with 8 coals below and 8 above, I combined:

  • 1 8oz brick of cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 1-2 diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 Stalks of celery, finely chopped.
  • ½ jalapeno, chopped
  • Liberal shakes of grated parmesan

I let that simmer until the cream cheese melted.

Then, I took the chicken breasts out of the marinade. I took one and pounded it flat between two sheets of wax paper. Then I put a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce from the 8” dutch oven and put it in the center of the flattened chicken. I folded it over and secured it with a couple of toothpicks. Then I rolled it in whipped egg, and then into crushed crackers. This I set in one of my 12” shallow dutch ovens. Four more rolls were made the same way.

Then I poured the rest of the sauce from the 8” dutch oven over the chicken rolls. In retrospect, I might have saved that and poured it over to serve, after the chicken was done. Not sure.

Anyway, it went on the coals and cooked for about 45 minutes. It turned out really good!

Dutch Oven Au Gratin Potatoes

12” dutch oven

8-9 coals below
16-18 coals above

  • 1 package bacon
  • 4-5 medium to large potatoes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • liberal shakes of parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups grated cheese

This dish I started by putting a 12” dutch oven over about 20 coals or so. I fried the bacon pretty crispy.

While that was frying, I quartered and sliced the potatoes and chopped up the onions. All of this went into a bow with all of the dry ingredients.

Once the bacon was done, I poured off most of the grease, and added the bowl mix. I also added the milk and the grated cheese. It all got stirred up and put on the coals as listed above. It also cooked about 45 minutes, until the potatoes were soft.

That was actually just about the same time as the chicken was done, so I brought both pots in, and sprinkled another half cup of grated cheese on the potatoes. That melted pretty quickly, and by that time everyone had gathered and was ready to eat.


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