Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dutch Oven Braised Chicken

I found this one in a cookbook of mine, and I really liked the appeal of it.  It looked a little bit fancier than just roasting up a bird, so I thought I’d give it a try.  As always, I tweaked up the recipe a little bit, based on my experience long ago of making tomato soup from scratch. 

This one’s a two-step process.  You first cook the bird and the veggies in the dutch oven with the liquid, and let the tomatoes dissolve.

Then, you carve the bird and puree the liquid with a little thickener to make the sauce.  Serve it up, together.

And, then, the next day, I had enough leftover chicken bits and sauce to make a delicious thick soup.  It really was a versatile meal.

Dutch Oven Braised Chicken

12” deep dutch oven
10-12 coals below
12-14 coals above

Serves 8, 475 Calories per serving

  • 1 whole chicken
  • Salt
  • cayenne
  • Black Pepper

  • 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4-5 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1-2 onions, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, coarsely minced, or sliced

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • liberal shakes of parsley
  • liberal shakes of cilantro

  • 2-3 tablespoons flour

So, I started off with the chicken, thawed completely, of course.  I’ve had problems with cooking chickens and turkeys that were still frozen.  I coated it with kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, and some pretty liberal sprinkles of ground cayenne.  Next time, I’ll probably lighten up on the cayenne.  I don’t mind hot, but in this case, it started to overpower the other flavors.  I rubbed all that onto the chicken, and set it in the deep dutch oven to allow the seasonings to absorb a bit.

While that was happening, I lit up some coals and started chopping the veggies.  These were all just scattered all around the chicken.  Then, I added the juice, the stock, and the herbs sprinkled on top.

I had a really, really tough time getting coals lit.  My wife had bought a bargain brand, and they would NOT light and turn white, no matter what I tried.  I did finally get them going, but it took me about an hour to get enough to get started.  Lesson learned:  Stick with brands you know.  My favorite is Kingsford...

The rest of the cooking process was pretty simple.  Just keep hot coals on it, until the internal temperature reaches 165.  There wasn’t much else to that.  The liquid simmered the veggies down and seasoned the meat, and it was all great.  I tasted it a time or two, but I felt it was all pretty balanced, except maybe too much heat, as I mentioned before.

Once the meat was done, I brought it in, and pulled the chicken out of the dutch oven.  That’s not always easy for me, because I like to serve straight out of the dutch.  It’s like it connects in my mind that this delicious meal came out of the dutch oven instead of my stove, and I feel like I’ve accomplished a greater challenge. 

Or something like that.

Anyway, I tented the chicken with some aluminum foil to rest, and I scooped up some of the veggies with a slotted spoon.  These, I reserved as a garnish.  Then, I ladled out most of the remaining liquid into my blender.  Yes, I used an electric appliance.  Sue me.  I added just a bit of flour as thickener and pulsed it up, then pureed it.

I carved up the chicken and put it onto a serving tray, then as a final touch, poured the puree on top and added the veggie bits on the side.  It looked really, really good, and tasted very gourmet as well.  I was quite pleased with myself!  Smug, even...


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

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Long Long Time 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Buying a Dutch Oven to Cook a Turkey

Warning:  Shameless Affiliate Promotion Ahead

I just got an email from someone asking about buying a dutch oven to cook a turkey.  There are a lot of options, and which you’ll end up using depends a lot on what you want to do, especially how big a turkey you want to cook.

My first thought is to get a deep 14” dutch oven.  It’s surprising, but that can actually cook a pretty big bird, if that’s what you want to do.  I have two 14” deep dutch ovens, from some minor name brand.  My preference is to cook turkey hens in them (which are usually around 10-14 lbs).  That gives you plenty of room around the bird for air circulation and some veggies, like potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, etc...

I have, however, also used them at times to cook bigger birds, even up to 22 lbs.  Once, when cooking a big one, I had to give it CPR to get the lid to close, but it works.

The Amazon link, here, is a spot where you can buy one, and yes, if you do, I’ll make a commission.  The picture in the link is a generic dutch oven, and doesn't really show the size of the 14".  I hope that all comes across as legal disclosure instead of begging.  But then, again, I’m not above a little begging.

There are some additional options for cooking large turkeys.  One is the Maca oval dutch ovens. This link is not an affiliate, link, BTW.  These are really nice and huge.  They are heavy.  I’ve used one before, because I was cooking for all of my wife’s family at Christmas.  I had to borrow it, and I’m really glad I did.  It worked really well, and I’m grateful to the trusting soul that loaned it to me.  It will cook a really, really large turkey.

Another option is the Camp Chef Ultimate Turkey Roaster.  This is also not an affiliate link.  This is kind of an oddity in the dutch oven world.  It turns the turkey on it’s end, rather than resting on its back, as usual.  It’s like having two big pots, and you’re stacking one on top of the other.  I’ve never used one, but I’ve seen people do it, and I’ve seen them cook 20+ lb turkeys in it.

So, all three options work with large turkeys, although the Maca and the Camp Chef UDO would probably work better.

After all of my experiences cooking turkey, I think the way I’ll do it from now on, honestly is to stick to smaller birds in my 14”.  I think the smaller turkeys are juicier and tastier.  Alton Brown, of the show “Good Eats” on Food Network agrees with me. That is also not an affiliate link.  He says that the bigger turkeys are raised in small cages, pumped with hormones or other chemicals, and can barely stand to support their own weight. 

If I’m cooking for a crowd, like my in-laws, I can do two 14 lbers, cook them with different, unique seasonings and flavors, and actually have more meat than one 22 lber with one flavor.  Or, I can do one turkey and one ham.  With two 14” dutch ovens, I have more flexibility and better meat.  Win-win!

So, once again, we have a $75 answer to a $10 question.  By the way, here’s a link to my best turkey in a dutch oven recipes


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

Mark's Other Blog Posts: A Spiritual Epiphany

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dutch Oven Berried Chicken, Part II

Last Sunday, I tried the berried chicken again, and this time I tried it as I wrote it, not like I did it the first time! 


Even at that I made a few changes.  And would also suggest a few more changes...  I can never leave well enough alone, right?  It drives my poor wife crazy.

One of the changes was to add the potatoes.  I had originally thought to put the chicken on my big steamer trivet in the dutch oven, so the juices would run down below.  But then, I thought of adding a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the dutch oven, and setting the chicken on top of that.  It was a great idea, as the potatoes absorbed much of the flavor from the spice rub and the chicken juices.

Another change I would recommend is to not use ALL of the spice rub when coating the chicken.  It was too strong, especially in the salt and the black pepper.  Mix it to those proportions, and then use about 2/3 of it.

I also used the minced mint idea in the berry sauce, as well as just a few good shakes of cinnamon.  Oh, and I used apple juice concentrate instead of pineapple, so it didn’t need the honey for the sweetener. 

The end result, however, was stunning, for my taste.  It’s one of the best things I think I’ve ever cooked.  The sweet of the berries blended beautifully with the spice of the chicken.  The berries even mellowed the over-spiciness a bit.  Not cooking them together was a smart move.  The two flavor blends were much more distinct this way, yet they still combined. 

My family, however, wasn’t so impressed as I was.  They weren’t UN-impressed, either, but my son was a bit nervous to try the berry sauce.  And even though my wife liked the berries, she loved the chicken plain, and was scarfing down the potatoes like there was no tomorrow.


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

Mark's Other Blog Posts: All About Us Mormons, New Song: "The Chapel",


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