Sunday, June 27, 2010

Moroccan Lamb Tagine in the Dutch Oven

For the last few weeks, now, I've been eager to try something new, something exotic.  A lot of the dishes I've been cooking lately have been remakes of past dishes.  That's good, I get to learn how to do them again, and make changes that make them better.  But I need to reach out and stretch from time to time, too, or I get stale.

And I was feeling a little stale.

Jodi had bought some lamb chops, and she was hoping that I'd do something with them.  I dove in, and searched out a whole bunch of lamb ideas, from a whole bunch of cuisines and nationalities.  In the end, this one won out, from Morocco.

I've not done anything from the african continent yet, in all the years I've been writing about the dutch oven.  This is my first.  Of course, it's from the mediterranean north coast of Africa, and I'm well aware that central and southern cuisines are very different.  I'll explore those someday, too.

I also tried something new, in my cooking process.  Over the years, as I've been trying to learn how to cook, I've always kept a very loose and unorganized cooking space.  This, of course, flies in the face of the concept of "Mise en Place".  This is pronounced "Mees-ah-plahz", and it means, literally, "putting in place".  There are many who refer to it as "everything in place".  It's the act of gathering together all of your ingredients and utensils, and arranging them into your working space so that you have easy access to them.

I've never done this.  I've only read about it.

But, too many times, I've run into situations where I've been in the middle of cooking a dish, and an ingredient I assumed we had plenty of was gone.  Either it was misplaced, or it was used up, or never there to begin with.  In any case, I would usually be in a situation where the time for that ingredient came and went, and I was frantically searching for it, usually while other ingredients were burning.

As I looked over this extensive list of ingredients, especially the seasonings for the marinade, I realized that the time had come to embrace mise en place, and give it a try.  It really helped.  Believe me.  I have learned my lesson.

Moroccan Lamb Tangine

This recipe makes about six servings, at about 525 Calories each.   It was done in three steps: the Marinade, the Meat, the Stew.

The Marinade

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds lamb meat, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

As I mentioned, I began last night by gathering up all of the seasonings and the meat, so everything was there and accessible.  I cubed up the lamb (from chops) and put it all in a 1 gallon ziplock baggie with the olive oil.  I gave that a shake to coat the lamb.

Then, I just added in all of the seasonings.  This is a serious whopping lot of seasonings.  I followed the recipe, and it tasted great in the end, but I also wondered to myself if all of the individual flavors of all of these seasonings just ended up lost in the mix.  Maybe it's like a symphony orchestra.  Sometimes it's the overall sound that's inspiring, not the individual instruments themselves.


Once all of those were in, I shook up the bag for about a minute, tossing it and massaging it so that it all got well coated.  I set it in the fridge to coat and absorb overnight.

The Meat

12" Dutch Oven

20-22 coals below

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • The meat mix from the previous step
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced into the green stems
  • 5 carrots, sliced lengthwise into thin, short strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

Even though the bad craziness of all the spices was done the night before, I decided to give mise en place another go today.  I gathered up all of the ingredients before I did anything else.

I lit up the coals, then put on the dutch oven with a bit of olive oil.  I let that heat up a little.  When I could tell that the oil was heated and shimmery, I dropped in the meat, and it began to brown.  It looked Sooooo good.  The spices were browning and searing into the meat...  Mmmm...

After about 10 minutes, I added in the onions, the garlic, the ginger, and the carrots.  I've been discovering the flavors of fresh ginger lately.  It's cool.  I stirred that occasionally and cooked it until the onions became translucent.

The Stew

20-22 coals below, a little less as it went on, to simmer

  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste or sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon water (optional)

After the onions became cooked a bit, I added the first set of stew ingredients.  I used the turkey stock I had made the other night after the spicy turkey.  It was frozen, so I had to melt it.  That's probably not the best way to do it, just dropping a frozen brick into otherwise hot food.  It melted pretty quickly.  Next time, I'll melt it better, so it goes in better.

I covered it and let it come to a boil.  I let a lot of the coals die out.  I did replenish, but not as much as I might have for a roast, for example.  Once it was boiling, I wanted it to simmer.  I let it simmer for almost an hour. 

When it was close, I got out my 8" dutch oven, some more stock, and made some rice, with a little more lemon juice.

Also, as it was nearing the end of the cooking time, I also added the cornstarch (mixed with water so as not to clump) as a thickener.  I also salted it a little more to bring out the flavors.

My family loved this international incident.  My son helped himself to seconds without even asking.  It was truly a success!


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

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Heavenly Father... 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Feast

It was four years ago that my Dutch Oven adventure started.  I even have a hard time remembering the scene, now.  I seem to remember that it was June of 2006, father's day.  We were living in the basement of my in-law's home at the time, waiting the many months for the completion of construction on our home.  My wife bought me a Lodge 12" dutch oven and gave it to me.  I don't remember how I seasoned it, but I got it done and started wondering what I was going to cook in it.

I had pleasant memories of boy scout campouts and making pizza.  So, I decided to try it.  It was simple, and it worked, and I was encouraged by my first bits of success.  My kids, of course, loved it, because it had pepperoni.  I remember, I used one of those boxed pizza crust mixes, and a jar of Prego for the sauce.

From there, I started cooking pretty much every sunday, and with few exceptions that has continued through today.  It was nearly 8 months later that I began blogging my recipes. I don't see any of that changing in the near future, either.  It's been wonderful.  I've met a lot of new friends, and learned a lot of new skills.  It's been a great ride.

So, yesterday, I cooked up a feast.  My wife was surprised.  Why should I want to cook on Father's Day?  See, she looks at cooking like a chore.  I look at it like a break from my crazy week.

I started out thinking I would do a turkey, and do it with that southwestern spicy rub that I really liked.  I thought, however, that this time I'd brine it first.  So, the night before, I cleaned out one of our coolers, opened up the turkey, and put it in.  Then I covered it up with cool water, and mixed in the salt and sugar.  Actually, I mixed the salt and sugar in a separate bowl first, to make sure it dissolved right.  I left that overnight to soak and to thaw.

I thought I would do another no-knead bread, too, so I got the dough ready and set it out to ferment through the day. 

The next afternoon, after church, I got things started.  After lighting up the coals and getting the turkey on to roast, I got the bread ready.  I didn't really do anything fancy.  I just followed the recipes as I wrote them!

I did change up the bread in a couple of ways, however.  Just after I put the dough into the hot dutch oven, I sprinkled the top with parmesan cheese.  Lightly, mind, nothing too oppressive.

Once those were cooking, I was just relaxing and keeping the coals on it.  It was a kind of windy day, so I had to keep on top of the coals and keep adding more to the pile in order to keep heat on.  But it wasn't a stressful cook at all.  The bread took about an hour, and the turkey about three.

The Bread, by the way, turned out phenomenal.  I finally got a soft crust, with big bubble holes in the crumb!  I was so thrilled with myself.

As the turkey was nearing done, I got to thinking about what to serve as a veggie.  I thought about Potatoes, and then I suddenly got this idea to do an oven full of steamed mixed veggies.  I Cut a bunch of veggies of various kinds and colors into bite-size bits.  I used snow peas, broccoli, red and yellow sweet peppers, and cauliflower.  I put them on one of those metal, fold-out steamer things, like I did with the corn a few weeks ago, and put in a few cups of water.  That went out on the coals.

When they were done, about 45 minutes later, I poured some italian dressing over them and sprinkled on some more parmesan cheese.  They were delicious and elegant.

At that point, I knew this was more than just a dinner, but a real treat, so I got out our nice dishes and we all sat down.  Turkey, veggies, and bread.  What a feast!  A great way to celebrate Father's Day, and a special Dutch Ovening Anniversary!


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

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Comfort and Affliction in LDS Music

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dutch Oven Hot Bread with Red Pepper and Garlic

It's been a long time since I did any bread.  A couple of weeks, in fact.  It's been even longer since I've done any kneaded bread.  So, today, I wanted to get my fingers in dough. 

At first, I got my sourdough start out, and refreshed it.  Usually if I want to use it, I'll have to set it out the night before, but I'd not decided on that, so I just thought I could wake it up and see.  I even crushed up a vitamin C tablet, and mixed that in, because it speeds yeast growth. In the end, it was quite frothy, but not soon enough, so I decided to use commercial yeast.

I wanted the bread to be different, too.  I looked through some of my bread books for a bread I hadn't tried yet, and most of the really cool ones were two-day recipes, so I abandoned that and decided to wing it.  I found a cool recipe online at The Fresh Loaf, but as usual, I tweaked it. 

What?  What?

I do that.

And to make matters worse, I decided on some flavorful enrichments, like crushed red pepper and minced garlic. 

The result was wonderful!  As always, I strongly recommend reading my Squidoo Lens on Breadmaking to grok my basic process for kneaded bread.  Here's my recipe:

Dutch Oven Hot Bread

~250 Cal/slice

12" shallow dutch oven

12 coals below
24-26 coals above

  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees, or just about shower hot)

  • 5-6 cups fresh bread flour (start with only 4-5)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dough enhancer (optional, but I like it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp crushed dried red pepper

  • 1 pint buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 beaten egg for glaze
  • topping (I used kosher salt)

First, I added the yeast to the water, and set it aside to proof.  While that was happening, I was mincing the garlic and getting the red pepper ready.

Then I mixed all of the dry ingredients (in the next set).  I poured in the frothing yeast, the buttermilk, and the honey, and mixed it all up.  I dumped all of that out onto a floured countertop and started kneading.  Most recipes say to knead for 10 minutes.  I use the windowpane test spelled out in the Squidoo Lens, and I find it can take as much as double that, depending on how fresh and good the flour is.  Add more flour if it's too sticky.  You can actually add more water to the mix, too, simply by getting your hands wet and kneading more.  I had to do that today.

Once it's all kneaded, set it aside in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise.  Let it rise until it's "doubled in bulk", whatever that means.  For me, today, that meant about two hours.

When it was approaching the end of the raising, I started the coals.  As soon as I had white on a lot of the coals, I took the dutch oven lid out and set a lot of coals on it, about 25 or so.  I let the lid preheat like that.

Meanwhile, I did a quick oil spray of the inside of the dutch oven, and put the dough ball in it.  I beat up the egg, and washed it over the top, and sprinkled it with the salt.  I sliced it three times, to give it steam vents and to better allow for expansion.  I let that sit for another 20 minutes or so, to open up a bit, while the lid was preheating.

Then, I put out a ring of 12 coals, set the dutch oven on it, set the hot lid on top and marked the time.  After fifteen minutes, I turned the dutch oven and the lid, and poured some more fresh coals on the spare hot ones.  In another fifteen minutes, I turned it again, and added a few coals to the top and bottom.  I also opened up the lid and inserted the thermometer.

After 45 minutes total, it was done (internal temp of 190 F).  The crust was brown and soft, and the under crust was soft as well.  I pulled it out and set it on my cooling racks. I gave it quite a while before I sliced it, too.  Don't cut your bread too soon!  It's still cooking while it cools.

The taste was great.  The peppers gave it a little bite, and the garlic was more of a subtle addition.  You might want to add more as per your taste.  This bread is great by itself or with meat sandwiches.


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post,

Zen on the Cob in the Dutch Oven

I like fancy.  I like complex.  I like a challenge.  I like to see if I can pull off intricate dishes and stretch myself.  I like to take simple dishes and enhance them, to "kick them up a notch". 

Ba-bam, and all that.

This weekend, however, I got to cook something incredibly simple.  And it tasted wonderful.

We were having a big barbecue party for a lot of Jacob's teachers and support staff at the school, and I spent a lot of time at the grill, naturally.  But on the side, I made some steamed corn on the cob.  It was so simple, that I'm not even going to spell it out in a recipe.

I started by lighting a lot of coals and pouring about half of them (I'm guessing about 20 or more) onto my cooking surface.  I put a veggie steamer (one of those metal fan-out things) in the bottom of my 12" deep dutch oven.  I poured in water until it was just up to the level of the steamer, and laid in the corn cobs (schucked and snapped in half) onto it.  Then I put the dutch oven on the coals. 

Pretty soon, it was venting steam a little, so I knew it was boiling.  I just kept fresh coals on for about 30-45 minutes, until the corn looked yellow and cooked, you know, like corn on the cob is supposed to.  Then we served it up with butter, salt, and pepper.  Yum!  Only two pieces were left over when it was all done.

Sometimes, simple and pure is perfect, right?


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

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Back Porch Gourmet Podcast

Do you remember the Dutch Oven Challenges issued a few months ago by my friend Andy?  If not, you can check them out here, here, and here.

Well, over at the Back Porch Gourmet, he's started up a podcast where he interviews those who love cooking outdoors, and he invited me to be his first guest!  So, go listen to the podcast!

Thanks, Andy!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post,


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