I also learned something about my "dry-roasting" cooking technique. I first tried it when I did the jerk chicken , and again when I did the pseudo-Indian chicken. The basic idea is that a dutch oven cooks by trapping the steam and the heat. The heavy lid traps all the moisture in. That's great with almost everything you cook, but once in a while, you want to cook something that's a bit dryer, something that sets seasonings in a glaze or something like that. You don't want to trap the moisture. I don't know what to call it, so I'm calling it "dry-roasting".
To make it work, you put something under the lid to lift it up. I found a thin metal grill that I could place under the lid. It lifted the lid, but not much. That way, the moisture escaped. I found, however, that a lot of the heat did, too. I'm sure that the fact that it was a windy and cold day today didn't help much, either.
But in order to make it work, you have to up the coals SIGNIFICANTLY. I put a thermometer in the bottom of the dutch oven while I was cooking the potatoes, and found that I needed to almost double the coals in order to get the kind of heat needed. I liked the results of cooking that way. It does lose a lot of heat that would have normally been trapped, however.
Dutch Oven Salmon with Potatoes and Asparagus
12" dutch oven
In the dry-roasting phase: 25 + coals each above and below
In the final baking phase: 10-12 coals below, 18-20 coals above.
- 4-5 medium to large potatoes
- Olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Fresh Asparagus, about 4-5 sprigs per serving
- Olive Oil
- Lemon pepper or lemon zest and pepper
- 1 fresh Salmon fillet
- 1 bundle green onions, chopped
- 1 lemon, sliced
I started out by lighting up the fire. That was a bit of a challenge as windy as it was, but eventually I had coals getting white. While those got ready, I got to cleaning the potatoes. The original recipe I drew this from called for baby potatoes. That would have been yummy. But I didn't have any. So, I used regular potatoes, quartered and then sliced in the cube-like chunks.
I put them in a bowl, and dashed over some olive oil, then all of the other seasonings and flavorings. I shook it in the bowl and mixed them all up.
Then I went out and put the oven on the coals to pre-heat some. I spritzed a little extra oil in the bottom. I don't know that I needed to, but I did. Once the oven was a bit hot, I put in the potatoes. I let those cook for a while, using the dry-roasting technique described above, until they got good and seared on all sides, and the seasonings were clinging to them. Since I was playing with the temperature, it took a little longer, but I think in normal conditions, it should take about 30 minutes or so, with a couple of stirrings.
While that was happening, I was preparing the asparagus and the salmon.
The asparagus was easy enough. I cut off about the bottom third of the asparagus, 'cause I remembered the bottom being the nastiest part when I was a kid. I put the sprigs into a bag with just a splash of oil and the salt and lemon stuff. I didn't have any lemons today, so I just used lemon pepper. I shook it up to coat the asparagus sprigs.
Then, I cut the salmon fillet into four big pieces (that's how many would be eating). I sprinkled on the dill, scattered over the chopped green onions, and put a lemon slice on each one. Actually, today I used lime slices, 'cause that's what I had handy instead.
I took all that out to the ovens. I took off the lid and the grill separator, and added the asparagus to the now delicious looking potatoes. and stirred them together. I laid the salmon fillet pieces in on top of those, and put the lid on solid. I readjusted the coals as above, and began baking the salmon and asparagus with the potatoes.
Because it's still quite hot, it didn't take long to cook the salmon, maybe only about 15-20 more minutes or so. At that point the asparagus was "al dente", as my Dad said. It was definitely cooked, but it wasn't wilted. It was still a bit cruncy, resisting your teeth a bit. The oil had kept the seasonings tight to the stalks, and tight to the potatoes, so those were quite yummy, and the salmon was delicious, too.
This meal really turned out four-star, if I do say so myself.