Monday, June 29, 2009

Dutch Oven Ham Recipes, Part III

I'm a big fan of ham. I think that I can enjoy a good ham as much as a good steak. Like the chicken and turkeys, there are a lot of ways that ham can be done and used, and you could go on and on with more and more ham recipes.

I've done a couple of really good ones here in the last week, that I'm particularly pleased with, and as I've gone back through the annals of the Black Pot, I've re-discovered quite a few more.

Let me share those with you!

Dutch Oven Ham Recipes - Roasts

  1. Christmas Wassail Ham
  2. Spicy Ham Roast
  3. Orange Ham
  4. Ham with Honey Mustard Glaze
  5. Byron's Dr Pepper Ham

Dutch Oven Ham Recipes - Soups and other things

  1. Ham and Black-Eyed-Pea Soup
  2. Split Pea Soup

I'm sure there will be lots more to come in the posts that follow! Check in often and see!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dutch Oven Ham Recipes, Part II

Every time I do up a big ham, I always save the bone. Usually, I make split pea soup with it, but this time, I decided to try something new, slightly. I decided to do a black-eyed-pea soup. This recipe is a variant from something I found online at

One of the big changes I made was the orange juice. This ham soup recipe originally called for Sherry. I looked up some alcohol substitution charts online, and they all suggested orange juice for sherry. Having never tasted sherry, I don't know if that's a fair replacement. Still, it tasted good!

Other than soaking the beans, there's really not much to this dish. So, this one is also really good as a beginner dish, since it's really just a dump it in and cook it kinda meal.

Dutch Oven Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

12" Dutch Oven
~15 coals below

  • 1 lb black-eyed peas
  • 3 Cups water
  • 4 Cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 ham bone, with a lot of meat still on
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A little flour to thicken, if desired

Like I said before, there's really not much to this ham recipe. The night before, I opened up the package of beans and put them in a bowl with lots of water. You need to do lots because the whole point is to have the beans soak it up. So, put in an inch plus or so of water higher than the beans.

The next day, drain the beans, and drop them into a dutch oven. Pour in the liquids, and drop in everything else. Because there's a lot of water, I used a lot of salt. It was very very yummy, especially with the french bread!

Dutch Oven French Bread

I mentioned last week that I had done french bread in my dutch oven. I didn't write about it because, frankly, it was good but not THAT good.

I mean, I was kinda proud of myself for making the attempt. Making good french bread is intimidating to me. I mean, when I'm doing my sourdough, or my sandwich loaves, there are a lot of enriching ingredients there to aid in the leavening and the flavor. In some ways, they're like crutches. You can mess up a little bit, and it'll still be OK, because the sugar will make it sweet and help it rise, and the egg and milk will help make it fluffy, etc...

But with french bread, you got none o' that. It's just flour, yeast, water, and salt. And that's it. And you have to make magnificent delicious, fluffy bread, with a rich brown crust with nothing more than that.

If THAT doesn't scare you, then you have no clue what you're up against!

Or, at least, that's what I kept telling myself.

But, I have two great teachers in my corner. One is Peter Reinhart, and his book, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread". The other is the great lady that gave me the book for Christimas, my dear sister!

So, I used Peter's recipe and procedure as best I could last week, and then, after talking to my sister, I applied her techniques as well. The problem with Reinhart is that he's cooking the bread in nice commercial ovens, not in a charcoal burning dutch oven in a backyard. So, I have to adapt his procedures somewhat. My sister helped me with that.

Another thing that I'm learning a lot along the way is that bread is a process, not a recipe. That's really true of almost all dishes, but bread moreso. The more you learn of the process, the better your bread with be in the long run.

Reinhart's french bread is done in three stages. One batch of dough is made and ferments overnight. It's blended with a second one that ferments on the kitchen counter. Finally it's shaped and proofed and baked.

The first stage is called the Pâte Fermentée (Don't ask me how to pronounce it, I'm a hick from a small town in Utah).

Pâte Fermentée

No dutch ovens, no coals

  • 1/2 tsp Yeast
  • 1 Cup water

  • 2 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Salt

I started by mixing the yeast and the water. Reinhart suggests using "instant" yeast, but I didn't have any, so I still activated my regular yeast in the water. It doesn't foam up like it would if there were sugar in the water, so I just dissolved it.

Then I mixed the flour and the salt, and poured in the water/yeast mix. I stirred that up and started to knead it. I shook in a little flour as I went, but not actually much. I found the texture to be very different than the enriched breads I'd done before. It was more like play-dough. It took a little getting used to.

I did knead it a long time, but I didn't really pay much attention to doing a windowpane test. It seemed to me that I'd be adding it to the other dough and rekneading it tomorrow anyway.

After the kneading, I put it back in the oiled bowl and let it sit under plastic wrap for about an hour. It did raise up, but it didn't balloon up like the other breads I've done did. Then I put it in the fridge to continue fermenting overnight.

Last week, I didn't do the overnight thing. I did this step, and just let it raise for about 2 hours total, and then moved on to step two. I think that when I have time, I'm definitely recommending the overnight rise. Like Reinhart says, there's more fermenting time to develop flavor.

The dough

  • 1/2 tsp Yeast
  • 1 Cup water (about 100° F)

  • The Pâte Fermentée from the night before
  • 2 1/2 Cups Bread Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Salt

So, the next day, today, I took the Pâte Fermentée out of the fridge and let it come up in temperature as much as possible. I cut it into 10-12 pieces and put it in with the flour and the salt, while the yeast and the water were activating. I just used a pastry cutter.

Then, I added in the water/yeast mix and started stirring it up. I turned it out onto my floured table top and started kneading. It took quite a while to reach a good windowpane test. When that was all done, I put it back in that oiled bowl and set it aside to rise for about 2 hours.

When it had risen well, I tipped it out and shaped it into a boule (that's french for "ball", I think). Even as I was shaping it, I was trying to not be too rough so as to not degas it as much as possible. I set it aside, under plastic wrap, for its final proof. If I'd had any, I would have set it aside on a sheet of baking parchment, and then on a plate, because, well, you'll see...

Right away, I went out and got some coals burning. I was going to preheat the entire oven this time, rather than just the lid. It took a while for the coals to fire up, but they did, and I put 12 coals underneath, and about 25 above. That should make it somewhere around 475° F. I let it heat up for about 15 minutes or so.

While that was heating and the dough was still proofing, I gathered up a few more tools. I got a spritz bottle of water. I got a paring knife, and my meat thermometer.

Now here's the technique my sister told me about. She said to do these steps quickly, in about as much time as it takes to explain it. So, I did.

I dropped the boule of dough into the now-way-hot dutch oven. I sliced the top of the dough three times. I spritzed it with water a few times. I stuck in the thermometer. I closed the lid.

OK, actually, the thermometer is my idea, not my sister's or Reinhart's. I just can never tell when bread is done, so I use the thermometer and cook it to an internal temperature of 190° F to 200° F. The spritz is what Reinhart and my sister both say helps to form the famous brench bread crust. It also helps with the "spring" to help the bread get really big in the oven. Had I used the parchment, I could have lowered the boule in much more smoothly and lost less gas and body in the process. So, I'll do that next time. I got that idea from a bread making blog.

I probably cooked it for about a half-hour to 45 minutes. I kept adding a few fresh coals and turning the lid and the body of the dutch oven every 15 minutes or so. I don't cook to time, but rather to temperature.

Then, I pulled it off the coals and let it cool. It really tasted great, even better than last week. It was a much larger loaf, and the crumb was much lighter. The crust was crunchier as well. It was enough for me to declare it a true winner.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dutch Oven Ham Recipes, Part I

Yesterday, I had another one of those dutch oven cooking days where everything went right. It was truly a five star meal, or at least four stars!

The centerpiece of the meal was a dutch oven ham recipe that was actually done pretty simply, with just a few ingredients. Basically, it's a honey and brown sugar glaze. I'd seen some recipes that used this particular approach, but I took it in a slightly different direction.

At first, I thought I'd flavor it up a bit with maybe some apple juice or dried apples, and cinnamon and nutmeg. But then, I decided that was going to be too obvious, and I should shake things up a bit. So, I ended up going with a chili powder in the mix.

That worked really well, because you get this three-layered flavor thing happening. When you bit into it, especially a cut with a glazed edge, you got the sweet, sweet sugar first, and then a few moments later, a bit of heat. Finally the salt of the ham meat itself came through.


Dutch Oven Honey Spicy Ham

Deep Dutch Oven, 12" or 14", depending on the size of your ham

12": 25-28 coals, split evenly between above and below
14": 30-33 coals, split evenly between above and below

  • 2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  • 1+ Tbsp Pepper
  • 1-2 tsp Chili Powder

  • 1 uncooked ham, thawed
  • 3-6 ounces of honey

That's it, really. Not much to it, is there? I kept thinking, "Wait, this is too simple. What else should I put in there?" But I couldn't think of anything else that it needed, or that would really enhance it. Simple is good, it seems, especially in ham recipes.

I started off making the rub. This is also simple. I just mixed the ingredients into a small bowl and stirred them together with a fork. Now, your chili powder my be weaker or stronger than mine, so taste the whole mix and see how it balances. Then you can adjust the pepper and the chili so it's there, but not too strong.

How much of this you use is going to depend a lot on the size of your ham. I actually ended up doubling this one because I was baking a 10 pound ham. Use these same approximate proportions and just make it to your taste.

Put the ham in the dutch oven and make sure that you can close the lid over it. Depending on the size and shape, you might have to position it differently, or, as I did yesterday, have to cut a chunk off. I have honey in one of those squeeze bottles, so I drizzled it all over the ham. Using a basting brush, I spread it out, especially on the sides.

Then I took the rub and smeared it all over the ham, letting it adhere to the sides with the honey. I let that sit for ten to twenty minutes and absorb into the meat a bit.

I put it on the coals, and from that point on, it was simply a matter of managing the heat from the coals and occasionally using a baster to pick up the juicy syrup and respread it onto the ham. I also had some sugar mix left over, so after a couple of hours, I also dusted that back on top for some more glazing.

It cooked for about three hours total, to an internal temperature of 160 or so. At that point I took it off the coals and brought it in to the table. By the time we were all gathered, it had risen up to about 170.

My family pronounced this dutch oven ham recipe delicious!

Along the way, I also made some french bread for the first time, and also did au gratin potatoes that didn't break! I'll add those recipes later.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dutch Oven Sourdough Rye Bread

Most of the time, I like to cook for my family, and for others. By that, I mean, I like to cook things that they like. Then, when I pull it off, they tell me how great it tastes, and I feel good, you know, it's a win-win...

I'm sure it has some connection to my deep-seated need for validation and praise, and probably stems from something my parents did wrong when I was very young. Trust me. It's their fault I need therapy.

But once in a while, I like to cook something just for me! Like Kofta bi Tahini. I don't care if the rest of the family doesn't like it. I do, and I'm gonna cook it and eat it all myself!

See, one thing my dad did (right) for me is show me how incredibly good a sandwich you can make with three basic ingredients: Rye bread, braunschweiger, and baby swiss cheese. I love those sandwiches. But my wife hates them. She even hates me after I eat them. Well, specifically, she hates my breath after I eat them, but then, when it comes to emotional traumas, let's not split hairs, here, shall we?

But today I baked dark rye bread, so that all this week, I can have various sandwiches at work, one of which will be, of course, the dreaded 'schwiegermeister. Oh, yes. It will be yummy. It will make my lunch time worth living for.

Dutch Oven Sourdough Rye Bread.

12" Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below
18-20 coals above

The "Sponge"

  • 1 Cup Sourdough Start
  • 2 Cups Dark Rye Flour
  • 2 Cups White Bread Flour
  • 1 Cup plain Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp Vital Gluten
  • 1 Tbsp Dough Enhancer

The Dough

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Postum (a coffee substitute - c'mon, I'm a good little mormon boy)
  • Liberal shakes of caraway seeds
  • Up to 2 additional cups white bread flour during kneading

So, I started out last night by activating the start. I poured out what I had left into a bowl and added about a cup of water (just sorta hot to the touch), and a cup of flour. That was pretty early in the evening. By later that night, it was starting to foam up.

I'd just like to say that, as a point of pride (another big psychological issue of mine) that this sourdough start is wild-caught sourdough yeast, not using commercial yeast. See, if you just use yeast from a jar, then what you're really doing is cultivating a culture of commercial yeast. The fact that you leave it out overnight doesn't really change the fact that it's still a commercial yeast.

On the other hand, if you get a start from just leaving out flour and water, and you catch yeast from the air, then it's a truer sourdough, and I think it tastes better.

I also need to comment on the "Dough Enhancer". This is an interesting ingredient that my friend over at Mormon Foodie turned me on to. It's got a bunch of interesting things in it that make dough rise up better and have better structure. I'm not entirely convinced it's absolutely necessary, but I've been experimenting with it lately, and I'm not unimpressed.

The added Vital Wheat Gluten flour was added because I've read that rye flour doesn't have the gluten content that wheat flour does. I found it made a big difference today, compared to the last time I made rye bread.

Anyway, once the sourdough start was bubbling a bit, I put a cup of it in a bowl, and added in all of the first set of ingredients, to make what is called "The Sponge". I don't really know why it's called that, other than that once it rises up and ferments, it does, in fact have a certain "sponginess"... I guess...

I set that aside, and let it ferment overnight. Not just overnight, but much of today as well, since we were out and about as a family.

When I came back, it had fermented up nicely. I added all of the ingredients in the second set, except the flour. That, I added while I was kneading it. In retrospect, I'd probably mix about 3/4 of a cup in the bowl, and then add more on the table as needed, because it was really sticky on the table for quite some time.

I kneaded for around 15 minutes or so, until it passed the "windowpane" test, then sprayed a bowl with oil and set it in to rise (also coated with spray oil and covered with plastic).

It probably rose for an hour to an hour and a half. I find my raising times are much shorter now that I'm kneading the bread more thoroughly. In fact, if you'll allow me to digress for a moment, all of the breads (except the frybread) at the cookoff were underrisen, and as I was watching the competitors in the field judging, I wondered if they were kneading their bread enough.

Then, I rolled it down and put it in the oiled dutch oven to proof. I scored it with three slashes across the top (even with that, it still tore apart in the cooking...). While it was proofing, I got the coals going. Once the coals were hot enough, I put the requisite amount on the lid to preheat it. That sat for probably about 10 minutes or so, and then I put the dutch oven with the sourdough bread dough on the coals, and closed on the lid.

I've learned that I have a very difficult time telling when bread is done, and regulating the temperature. I just basically try to keep enough coals on it to be hot enough, a bit higher than a typical 350 degree bake. It's proabably around 375 or so. But a little past half way through, I stick a meat thermometer in it and close the lid. I bake it until it reads about 190, because I like it a little softer, with not such a hard crust.

Then it was done. I let it cool, cut it and made a sandwich. Hmmmmmm!

Now, if you would, please, help a poor little boy feel better about himself and listen to his pathetic little plea for validation... Just one little comment is all it takes...

Friday, June 12, 2009

The View From the Other Side

So, on Saturday, I had a very interesting experience. I was asked to be a field judge for the Eagle Mountain Pony Express Days Dutch Oven Cookoff.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd participated in the cookoff the previous two years, and had interacted with field judges each time. Still, interacting doesn't mean the same as doing.

I read over the instructions and the judging criteria the night before. They had all turned in their recipes. Part of what I was supposed to do was to make sure that they cooked their chosen recipes in a safe and correct way.

Actually, that's not entirely true. My job was to watch them do it and mark them down if they did it "wrong". It seemed that all of the criteria in the scoring was based on messing up. I thought that was strange. They got 3 points in each of five categories. The highest score was defined as "satisfactory", and the others were things like "Needs Minor Improvement", "Needs Major Improvement", and "Don't Eat Their Food". There were no provisions for someone doing something exceptionally well.

That would have made my job much easier. See, the teams all knew what they were doing, and did a pretty good job of it. So, with a few minor exceptions, they all did "Satisfactory". So, how am I to distinguish?

But it was a lot of fun. I got to know some good dutch oveners, and it was fun.

Here I am, yours truly, walking out to the judges table from the cooking area. Like I have said before, it's not often that I get a picture here in the Black Pot, and that's probably a good thing!

In addition to a fun new experience, I also got to keep the cool embroidered apron!
These guys were new to competition, so it wasn't a surprise that they didn't place as high, even though their dishes were well done. When you've competed a while, you learn certain touches in presentation and style that really impress judges. I really liked their bread, and I want to try their spicy chicken, too!
This guy cooked with his 14-year-old daughter. They made a great team. In addition to helping him cook, she did all his dishes. I wonder if I could work out an arrangement like that with Brendon...
The judges table! The judges were an interesting mix. About half were local celebs, and one was the author of a food storage cookbook, and there were two that actually had some cooking skills.

The judging was difficult, too. I was allowed to taste everything, but as a field judge, I didn't vote in the taste testing. In all but a very few cases, it was tough to pick a favorite!
This one's the winner's main dish. It was wonderful! Ribs with a homemade BBQ sauce. I thought the shrimp on the edge was a nice touch, too.
This one was incredible, and I want to make it at home sometime. A pork rib roast with a brown sugar and pepper sauce. Man, it was gooooooood.
The winners! Not only did they win the prize, qualifying for the World Championship Cook Off next spring, but they also won the Mayor's Choice award (second year running!). This couple also competed for the first time with me the first time I did the Eagle Mountain.


Related Posts with Thumbnails