Monday, August 25, 2008

Chicken in the Dutch Ovens this Weekend

I took a day off work today. Today is my 21rst wedding anniversary! That means that 21 years ago, in the Salt Lake Temple, my wife accepted me, and for reasons that I’m still not sure of, hasn’t kicked me to the curb yet. It was kinda special for us, because a good friend of ours got married on Saturday, in the same temple. All the time I was there, and at the reception, I kept thinking back to our wedding. At the reception, the groom had asked me to sing a couple of my songs, so I did a few that I wrote for Jodi. One of them, “The Summer of ‘87” is a celebration of the memories of the summer leading up to our wedding.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to cook this week. Our family finances have been pretty stretched out recently and it’s been difficult. That meant I couldn’t go out and splurge on all kinds of fancy ingredients. But still, I wanted to cook some things for our anniversary. My wife had bought a chicken for cooking (whole), and so I thought it would be fun to roast it. And, of course, once the roast chicken is carved, then you gotta make stock and soup out of the carcass. So, it’s been a chicken weekend!

Dutch Oven Herb Roasted Chicken

12” deep dutch oven

9-10 coals below
17-18 coals above

  • 1 roasting chicken (about 5 lbs)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

  • 2 large potatoes, quartered and sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 sprigs celery with leaves, sliced
  • 1-2 crumbled bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

  • ½ Cup butter, melted
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime

I started with the chicken itself. After unwrapping it and shaking out all the liquid, I gave it a light coating of salt and pepper. I set that into the center of the 12” deep dutch oven. Around that, I added all the sliced veggies and all the stuff in the second set of ingredients. I really should pay attention to exactly how much of each herb and/or spice I include, but I don’t. I just shake some in. I’m learning that you should really just be liberal with them.

The next step was to make the baste out of the third set of ingredients. I got out my basting brush and slathered that onto the chicken. I like to poke holes in the chicken skin, too, to let the bastes drip down into the meat more. I put that on the coals.

From then on, it was simply a matter of keeping fresh coals on the chicken. I would open up the dutch oven about every 15-20 minutes and slap on some more basting sauce. It cooked pretty steadily for about 2 to 2 ½ hours. I stuck a small meat thermometer in the breast and cooked it to 190 degrees. I looked it up, and the chart Jodi found said it was done at 180, but I just hadn’t been paying attention, and it got all the way up to 190. I hope I’m not in trouble for that!

Then I just carved up the bird, and served it with the potatoes and vegetables that cooked alongside it. It was delicious! Very moist and tender. That’s one thing I love about cooking birds in the dutch oven. The lid traps the steam, so the meat doesn’t dry out.

I saved the bones and the leftover meat for then the next day, when I made…

Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup

12” Shallow Dutch Oven

Lots of coals below

  • 1 Formerly 5 lb chicken carcass

  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1-2 large carrots, sliced
  • ~1/4 cup lemon juice
  • More salt and pepper

  • Noodles

I started out by putting the carcass of the previous day’s roast into the 12” shallow dutch oven, with about 2-3 inches of water. I had lit up a lot of coals, and I shook them out and arranged them on my little cooking table. The carcass and the water went on that.

After about a half hour, it was boiling away. While that was boiling, I was making noodles. I went back to the black pot archives and did the herb garlic handmade pasta. I set some of the pasta aside to dry up a bit before cooking. If you don’t want to make your own pasta, you can just use it from a bag. But making it yourself is soooo much fun.

Then, I pulled the dutch oven off the coals. I took the bones of the chicken and picked off as much meat as I could. The meat I put back into the broth. The broth, by the was was permeated with all the spices and herbs that I’d used the previous day. If you don’t have the remains of a picked over chicken to boil up, you can cube up some frozen chicken breasts and boil them to make the broth. If you do, then add some of the herbs in that I used yesterday. Or any others that you want to add yourself. Go for it. It’s your soup, ya know…

Then, with just the meat and the broth left, I put that back on the coals, and came inside to slice up the veggies. Those went into the pot. Once it was boiling, I added the noodles. I made the mistake of stirring it right away, so the noodles broke up a bit too short, but they were still good.

It doesn’t take long to cook pasta fresca. I probably should have let the veggies cook a little longer before adding them. I would recommend about 20 minutes or so on the veggies once it starts boiling again, and then add the pasta for another 5 minutes or so.

If it’s too runny for your tastes, add a tich of flour and stir it all up. Then pull it off and serve it! Yum!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dutch Oven Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

This one’s a kind of a busy recipe. The original recipe calls for boiling some of the ingredients before adding to other ingredients. I did that, but I’m not really sure what that accomplishes, other than melting the butter.

It did turn out really tasty. The frosting was a bit thick and hard to spread. I had to heat it up in the microwave to make it pliable enough to spread. I wonder if the recipe has enough butter or milk.

Here it is:

Dutch Oven Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

8” Dutch Oven
10-12 coals below

12” Dutch Oven
8 coals below, 16-18 coals above

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup cocoa

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

First, I set some coals on to burn. While those were getting white, I went searching the house for the first set of ingredients. I coulda sworn that we had them all the other day. But I had to go into the basement and dig up a big bag of flour, then scrounge up some sugar. The baking soda was easy to find.

Once the coals were hot, I put the next set of ingredients into the 8” dutch oven, and put that on some coals. I stirred it frequently, and took it off once it was boiling. I poured it into the powdered ingredients gradually, while stirring. Then, I added the eggs and the sour cream.

I greased and floured the 12” dutch oven and poured in the goo. That went on the coals, as listed above. I turned it every 10-15 minutes.

While it was baking, I rinsed out the 8” and started up on the frosting

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

8” Dutch Oven
10-12 coals below

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 4 1/4 cups powdered sugar (1 16-ounce bag)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
I started making the frosting by combining the first set of ingredients into the 8” dutch oven, and putting that on some coals. Again, I stirred it occasionally until it boiled. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and stirred it up.

The cake baked for a little over a half hour. When it was done (a toothpick came out clean), I brought it in and let it start to cool in the dutch oven. After a few minutes, I put a plate on the cake in the dutch oven, and turned it over, tapping it gently on the countertop while holding the plate directly under the cake. It popped out and onto the plate as easy as… well… a piece of cake…

After it had cooled, I put the frosting on the top. I tried to put it on the side, to, but it didn’t stick very well.

When I sliced it and served it, I draped it in a little bit of hot fudge sauce I had. It was a really yummy cake!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dutch Oven Yogurt and Herb Fish

Last weekend, my family got to go fishing.

I mention that for a couple of reasons. One is that we are not really a fishing family. We go fishing pretty much once a year. There’s a program called C.A.S.T. (Catch A Special Thrill), which sets up a day where volunteer boaters take handicapped and special needs kids and their families out on a lake and everybody fishes all morning. We’ve done it three years running, and it’s always a lot of fun. I’m always impressed at the hard work of those volunteers, as well as the organizers. It’s a really impressive day.

Another reason I mention it is because this year was a very special year. It is the year that my curse was broken!

See, every time I would go fishing, nobody caught anything. I don’t just mean me. I mean, nobody. Nobody in our group, nobody in our boat, nobody. I started to get this emotional, gut-level complex. I began to think I was cursed.

But this time, I caught some, Brendon and Jacob caught some, the Pursells (our friends) caught some, EVERYBODY caught some! And since the Pursells don’t really like to eat fish, I got to bring it all home. And, today, I got to cook them!

Now, since I don’t usually catch ‘em, I sure don’t know how to fillet them. But after literally butchering the first one, I kinda got the hang of it, and the rest turned out pretty well. They were all bass. Most were smallish, with not much meat, but there were a few pretty sizable ones.

I’d found, in a cookbook I have, a recipe for a yogurt and dill sauce for chicken. I thought it would taste good on fish, so I looked at it again, and modded it with some additional herbs, and put the whole thing on potatoes. Here it is:

Dutch Oven Yogurt and Herb Fish

12” Dutch Oven
8 coals below, 16-17 above in the baking stage

  • A lot of white fish filets. I think there were probably about 10 fish we kept, most of which were 10 to 12” before filleting, and a few were as long as 14”

  • 2 small tubs of plain yogurt
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Very liberal applications of:
  • Dill weed
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper (coarse ground)
  • Any other herb or spice you want

  • 1 medium to large onion, quartered and separated
  • 1 lb bacon, cut into 1” squares
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 large potatoes, quartered and sliced

I started by Filleting the fish, and putting them all in a big mixing bowl. Then, in another bowl, I mixed all of the sauce ingredients. I poured that over the fish, and stirred it up to coat them all thick. I put that in the fridge to marinade.

I continued by sautéing the bacon, the onion, and the garlic until they were all pretty brown. I had the oven over a lot of coals at the time, probably around 25-27 or so. I added the salt and pepper, then the potatoes. I stirred it all up to coat the potatoes in the bacon grease. At that point, I pulled the dutch oven off the coals, and set it up for the baking, with the above listed coals on top and below.

Since fish cooks pretty quick, I baked the potatoes for about 20-30 minutes before adding the fish on top. Then, about a half hour later, it was all done.

I was kinda surprised by how much liquid there was at the bottom. It was almost like a soup. But the yogurt and the herbs on the fish tasted great! Fish and yogurt are not very strong flavors, so make sure that you really let go with the herbs!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Swirled Bread in the Dutch Oven

So, today was the culmination of a few of my recent posts about breadmaking. These last few efforts to do a dark bread were all pointing in the direction of baking a loaf of swirled bread. I wanted to mix up a light white bread and a darker bread and then combine them. I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to combine them, but I had a couple of ideas. One was to create roll out two flat panels of each dough, stack them and roll them, kinda like a cinnamon roll. The other was to create a couple of long ropes and twist them over and around each other, then wrap that in a circle in the dutch oven.

So, I tried it today. I made up one of my wife’s honey bread recipe, and one of the cheater bread recipe. Rather than chase you around my blog trying to find those, let me just reprint them both here, especially since there were a few minor changes.

Swirled Bread in the Dutch Oven

2x12” Dutch Ovens
8 coals below each one, 18 coals above

The Dark Bread (Dutch Oven Cheater Bread)

  • 1 1/4 Cups warm/hot water (about 100 to 110 degrees f)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) yeast
  • 2 cups Bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Cocoa
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Postum (or coffee, if ya got it)
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses
  • About a tsp each of red and green food coloring (probably a tich more red)

The White Bread (Dutch Oven Honey Bread)

  • 1 cup warm/hot water
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 5-6 cups flour
  • 1 egg for the glaze

I started off making the dark bread. I don’t know why I picked it, I just did. It does have a few more steps in the making. I started by activating the yeast. I put the yeast and the sugar into the hot but not scalding water. While that’s foaming up, I mixed the dry ingredients into a bowl. Then I added the butter and used a pastry blender to cut it into the powders.

Then I went to add the wet ingredients into the bowl. I added the honey and the molasses, then mixed up the colorings, and added them to the yeast mix. I poured that into the bowl and started stirring it all up.

I floured the table and kneaded for about 6-10 minutes, adding flour to the table as I went. Finally, that went back in the bowl (sprayed with oil spray) and then coated with more oil spray and covered to raise.

Then I turned my attention to the light bread. This one was pretty straightforward. Once again, I activated the yeast. One bit of advice, when you get the water hot, and then add the honey, it will pull down the temperature, so make it a bit hotter than usual.

Then I mixed in all the ingredients of the second set, saving the flour for last. If you do that, you can add it more gradually, and you can adjust it more to the texture instead of just rigidly measuring. I kneaded it up the same way, adding flour to the table as needed. That went back in the bowl the same way.

Then I cleaned off the kitchen counter and went skateboarding in the front street with Brendon. I managed to do that without killing myself. Pretty cool, huh?

After about an hour and a half, it was risen enough, so I refloured the counter and punched the dough down. I cut each loaf in half. The dark dough wasn’t as pliable, but it was still workable. After oil spraying two 12” dutch ovens, I started working on the dough.

I decided to try two different ways of wrapping the two doughs. The first one I did was to simply roll (press) the two colors into two sheets of dough about the same size and dimensions. Then I layered the dark one on top of the light one, and rolled it up, and set it in one of the dutch ovens.

The other pair I stretched out into two long snakes of dough, and twisted them together, like a peppermint stick. That got curled into a ring in the other dutch oven. I put on the lids and set them aside (outside) to proof (rise again). Soon after that, I got the coals started. I had to light a lot, since that count is about 26 for each oven. As soon the coals were ready, I checked the bread and it was nicely re-risen and ready to be baked. I brushed some beaten egg over the top, to give them a nice brown glaze, and put them on the coals.

They baked about an hour or so, until the internal temperature was between 190 and 200. They both turned out great, and tasted wonderful. Especially with the lasagna my dear wife made for dinner tonight after church. I think I like the look of the rolled up bread better, so if I do it again, I’ll do it that way. Pretty satisfying! I kinda feel like I’m getting the hang of this bread thing a bit.


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