Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dutch Oven Meatballs with Potatoes

This one is some yummy comfort food at our house.  It's a dish I've made before, and one that my wife used to make a lot (using the indoor oven).  It's a simple dish, a one-pot two-step.  Easy, yes; healthy, not so much...!

  • 1 medium to large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves, garlic, chopped
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • 2-3 Sweet peppers, chopped

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 3 slices bread, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • very liberal shakes of parsley
  • 1/2 package cream cheese

  • 4-5 medium potatoes
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A layer of grated cheddar

I started off by heating a tablespoon or two of oil in the dutch oven with about 15-20 hot coals below it.  I wanted to get the oil nice and hot to sautee all of the ingredients in the first set.

While that was cooking, I made the meatballs.  I mixed everything and blended it up nicely.  Then I made a meat patty about the size of my palm, sliced off a piece of cream cheese, and closed the meat around it.  The final meatball was just a little larger than a golf ball.  I also sliced up the potatoes and opened up the cans of soup.

Back out at the dutch oven, I arranged the meatballs on top of the now carmelized veggies, with a little space between each.  I scattered in the potato slices inbetween the meatballs, then spooned the soup concentrate from the cans onto the top.  I spritzed on the lemon juice, and closed the lid.  I set it with 10-12 coals on the bottom and 16-18 on top, and let it bake for about an hour, or until the potatoes were nice and soft.

Then, I brought it in.  I put a layer of grated cheese on top and put the lid back on, letting the cheese melt.

It's yummy, gooey, and oh, so comforting.  Love it!


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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: name post, name post,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dutch Oven Bread

In all my years (even though it hasn't been that many) of dutch oven cooking, the one thing that has brought be the most struggles, and yet also helped my confidence grow the most, is making a good loaf of bread.  I tell ya, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. 

Over the 2 years or so that I've been focusing on learning about it, I've found a few things that make it work more consistently:

  • Use a good, fresh, bread flour
  • Knead it enough (use the windowpane test)
  • Manage your heat carefully, and preheat the dutch oven (or at least the lid)
  • Bake it to the right temperature
  • Let it cool enough

Over the course of the next years, I'm sure that I'll learn even more, as my efforts continue.  Below, I've listed some of my better bread success stories.  Before you dive in and try any of them, however, I strongly recommend that you read my Dutch Oven Bread Baking Lens.  At the very least, it will help you understand some of the things I say when I'm explaining the recipes and the processes in these other post:



I'm far from an expert, but I think I've got some good tips.  Stick with me and we'll learn together!


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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: Songs of Zion: More From Doug Erekson

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mark's Black Pot Aprons

Hello, folks...  Time for a between-recipe posting.  I need some help, here.

The other day, I looked at some funny aprons in a cooking shop, and I thought it would be cool to create a line of them for dutch oven chefs.  I came up with a bunch here, and I thought I'd both share, and ask your opinions.  Which ones are the best?  The funniest?  Do you have any ideas to throw into the sauce?  Any more clever ways to phrase any of these?  Post your ideas as comments below, or as an email to me!


  1. I cook in heavy metal
  2. Doncha wishya husband could cook like me
  3. Careful what you say.  I have a knife.
  4. Real cooks don't use recipes
  5. Real men wear aprons
  6. Dutch Ovens: Cheaper than Therapy
  7. Never trust a skinny chef
  8. *%&! the recipe!  Full Speed Ahead!
  9. Recipe?!  We don' need no stinkin' recipe!
  10. Danger: Men Cooking
  11. Dutch Ovens are for Men: Meat, Metal, Knives, and Fire
  12. Well-seasoned chef
  13. I'll cook, you clean
  14. It's not burned, it's cajun
  15. Good cooks never run out of friends
  16. You kill it, I'll grill it
  17. Too much thyme on my hands
  18. Chef's are hot
  19. It's supposed to smell like that
  20. Meatatarian
  21. The Iron-ic Chef
  22. (insert whatever your cool idea is here...)

I'd love to see what you folks can come up with!

Update - 1/21/10

I just put all of these options into a survey.  Simply click on the ones you like best and submit.  If you have ideas for other good ones, use the comment box below.





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




Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Dutch Oven Challenge!



It has been Brought!

Like I mentioned in my last post, Andy J at the Back Porch Gourmet issued me a challenge in the dutch ovens.  We would give each other a list of three ingredients that would need to be used in a completely original recipe.  He gave me Pork, Oranges, and Curry.  I gave him Fish, Dill, and Potatoes.

The whole idea, as I understand, isn't really to see who's the best.  We really can't taste each other's dishes.  The idea is just to push us out of our comfort zones a bit and see what we can each do.  And to have a little fun in the process.  I tried a little trash talk, but really, I'm not too good at that...

I was really feeling out of the zone.  It was strange.  Since the original challenge stated the the recipe needed to be "wholly original", I didn't even go online for ideas.  I just mulled over ideas in my head, and got some great suggestions from Jodi.

Here's my result:

Dutch Oven Orange Curried Pork Chops

12" dutch oven
15 coals below
20 coals above


  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 med onions, chopped
  • 5-6 green onions, chopped
  • 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 canful water
  • 1 canful rice
  • salt
  • pepper

  • Pork chops
  • kosher salt
  • curry powder

  • 1 jar orange marmalade
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • cinnamon

I started out by chopping up and mincing all of the veggie ingredients in the first set.  I mixed all of the first set in the dutch oven.  Pretty easy, so far.

In the next set of ingredients, I had to make some choices.  I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to put the curry directly on the meat, or include it in the glaze.  In the end, I decided to put it on the meat.  I rubbed the meat, both sides, with kosher salt and curry powder.  Then I layered the pork chops over the veggies, rice, and liquid.  I had about 8-9 actual chops, so I had to overlap them in a circle.

Finally, I mixed the marmalade, the zest, the juice, and the cinnamon into a glop and spooned it onto the meat.

I put that out on the coals.  It cooked for about an hour.  Some of the rice in the middle ended up not fully cooked, so I probably should have gone longer.  There was still some liquid that could have been absorbed.


I served it up with a twist of orange, and sprinkled with minced mint leaves.

In the end, it was a really interesting flavor.  The rice, and even the meat, had a rich creaminess that I'm sure came from the coconut milk.  The spices gave it a very interesting flavor, one that I'd not tasted before, so it was neat to have something almost completely new.

So, thanks Andy!  Here's his response!


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




Friday, January 15, 2010

A Dutch Oven Duel!

Andy J, who joined me for a cookout last August, recently sent me this email:

Mark,

I am throwing down the cast iron gauntlet. I hearby challenge ye to a cast iron duel. If ye choose to accept the challenge, here are the terms:

1. I will choose 3 ingredients:
   a. Meat
   b. Spice
   c. Fruit or Vegetable or Starch

2. Ye must cook a one pot dutch oven dish with the 3 ingredients. Ye may add any additional ingredients so long as they do not nullify these terms. (See number 3.)
   a. The ingredients must be as common and available as possible. I do not expect ye to backpack through the mountains of Nepal for the rare Joo-Joo Truffle or some such.
   b. The ingredients may be up for interpretation. For example, if I say Chicken, ye may use chicken breasts, wings, nuggets, whatever ye wish. If the ingredient specifically states Rib Eye Steak, then there can be no choosing.
      i. Although it states the ingredients may be up for interpretation, meat is meat, so ye may not substitute stock for meat, or eggs for meat, although these items could be added. I will however, consider tofu a 'meat' only because the readers of ye blog may be vegetarian.
      ii. No matter who you talk to, ketchup is not a vegetable.

3. It must be delicious.

4. Ye shall hearby document the entire process, including experiences at the grocery store, prepping the dish, cooking the dish, and most importantly, eating the dish.

5. The recipe shall be original in the whole, and the recipe shall be posted for all to see. (see documentation of step 4)

6. Ye shall post the experience on the interwebs for all to see and enjoy.

So, do ye accept the challenge? If so, I would expect to see a counter challenge with a list of my ingredients.

If ye be of valor, here are your ingredients. Choose your weapons wisely.

1. Meat - Pork
2. Spice - Curry
3. Fruit/Veg/Starch - Orange



Well, I'm not one to turn down a challenge.  Especially from a knight so brave and skilled as Sir Andrew.  I quickly responded with this missive:



Andy,

Sorry, I'm lagging way behind.  This is a GREAT idea.  Your challenge ingredients look fun, too.  It might be as much as a week or two before I get to cooking it, though.  Is that OK?

Here are your ingredients:

       a. Meat:  Fish
       b. Spice:  Dill
       c. Fruit or Vegetable or Starch:  Potatoes


The only downside here is that we really should get together and cook these challenge meals, then sample each other's dishes.  I just don't know when we could do this.
   
    Mark



Well, we discussed (via electronic carrier pigeon) the possibilities of staging this fated duel face to face, but soon realized that it was a futile effort.  We must cook, each man in his own fair land, and the fame of our heated cast iron battle will needs be shared far and wide in song and legend.

So, a few days ago I was in the grocery store, and I started checking out pork, to see if anything inspired me.  I did come to one conclusion:  Pigs is Pricey!  I thought about getting a pork roast, and then pulling it and serving it over a rice/orange/curry kinda thang.  That sounded good, but that made it a two-step, instead of a one-pot meal.  I probably coulda gotten away with that, but in the end I decided I'd go with some pork chops.

I'm still not too sure how I'm going to do it.  I've got some ideas that I think are really cool, but I'm not certain.  One thought is an orange curry kinda glaze thing, and probably still over rice.  It might be cool with an orange marmalade...  Hmmmm...

At any rate, my plans are to cook it up this weekend, probably Sunday.  As always, I'll keep you posted!



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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: You're All Unique!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cocoa Bread in the Dutch Oven

NOTE: When reading any of my blog posts about breads, it might be a good idea to read my lens on baking bread in a dutch oven first.  It might help clear up some of the things I talk about.

This morning, I put out what is possibly the best loaf of bread I've ever done!

I've read bread cookbooks where the author talks about breadmaking as if it were magic.  In a lot of ways, I agree with them. Today, the magic all came together.  It will be interesting to see if I can pull it off again.  I think I did learn something about heat management that helped. 

Once I'd figured out my problems with the flour recently, the big challenge I've been facing has been figuring out how to get a fully-cooked crumb, without a hard crust.  Both the top crust and the bottom have troubled me.  The only way to figure it out is to do it, right?

I mentioned a week or so ago that I had caught some fresh yeast in a sourdough start, so I used that today. My initial intent was just to make a good sourdough and see what I could do.  I used the same recipe I've been using for a long time whenever I do sourdough. I started last night making the sponge, just like normal.  It rose up nicely by morning. 


As I was mixing the second set of ingredients together, I just got a wild streak and I added two tablespoons of cocoa powder.  Why not?  The cool thing about bread is that once you get consistent results from a basic core recipe, you can add any kind of enrichments you like.  Flavorings, herbs, fruits, nuts, seeds,...  Anything you like.

I kneaded it up and, even though it took a while to get to the right amount of flour in the mix, it windowpaned very nicely. 

One hint...  When you leave your sponge out overnight to ferment, cover it with plastic or something.  I didn't today, and there was this dry crusty-ness over the top.  I thought it would dissolve into the dough as I kneaded it, but it didn't and I was picking clumps out of it the whole time I was kneading.

Anyway, I set it aside to rise, and when I came back about an hour and a half or so later, it looked incredible.  So nicely risen, with a smooth texture...  Mmmmm...

I got some coals started and got the lid preheated with about 25-30 coals.  Once it was ready, I made a bottom ring of 12 coals, and then about 24 on top.  Now, keep in mind that this is the dead of winter, but there wasn't much wind.  It was probably about 30 degrees out this morning or so. 


The interesting thing was that I didn't replenish.  I just let the coals keep burning.  The coals were pretty white, but still quite new by the time that I put the oven on, and I just let them go.  It baked for about 45 minutes to an hour.  I think letting the coals die off may have had a big impact on how the crust was formed (above and below).  I rotated it about ever 15-20 minutes.  After about 35 minutes, I put the thermometer in.  I took it off the coals a little early, too, at about 180 degrees.  I brought the hot oven inside and left the bread in.  After about 10 minutes, it was up to an internal temperature of 190 and I took it out of the oven to fully cool. 

It was then that I saw how soft the lower crust was, and how nice the texture and thickness of the upper was as well.  I was a little nervous that the crumb would still be doughy, but there hadn't been crumbs sticking to the thermometer when I pulled it out.

So, I'm feeling pretty stoked tonight.  When you do something and it all works, and the magic comes together, it's a good feeling.


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


Mark and Brendon Make Chili in Dutch Ovens!



And we have the video to prove it!

Remember when I said that cooking is less of a recipe and more of a process?  That it's more than just a list of ingredients?  True that.  And, at the same time, not so much.  I will elaborate in a minute.  Bear with me.


Last night was our ward (A Mormon church congregation) annual chili cookoff.  About fifteen or twenty or so of us all presented our best chilis.  There were judges, and many others that just came to have some great food and fun with friends.  It's been one of our best attended ward activities, almost as much as the Christmas party.

So, like I said, I made the white chili.  I was very meticulous about the process.  I stepped through things one bit at a time, and did everything just right.  And, honestly, I think it was the best chili I'd ever made.


Brendon, on the other hand, pretty much ignored process.  He soaked his beans a while, and he browned the meat before hand, but other than that, he just pretty much added his ingredients as soon as he had them ready.  And his chili tasted great, too!  In fact, his won a very enviable prize that night:  "Best 'what's-your-secret-ingredient' Chili".  Brendon had a great time telling people afterward that it was cilantro. 

Mine won the "Best 'puts-hair-on-your-chest' Chili".  I'm not sure what that means, but I'll take the prize, anyway!

I pretty much followed the ingredients from the other time that I did the white chili, with a few exceptions.

Dutch Oven White Chili

12" dutch oven
16-20 coals below


  • 1 lb dry black eyed peas

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb ground turkey

  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 sweet peppers, diced (I like to use different colors, like yellow, orange, and red)
  • 1/2 to 1 jalape┼ło, diced, with seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 4-5 green onion, chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • More salt and pepper, if needed
  • Juice of 1-2 limes, to taste

  • ~1/4 cup corn masa



I started out the night before putting the black-eyed peas into a bowl with a lot of water to soak.  It's important that there be a lot of water, because I've soaked beans before and had them completely absorb the water.  So, flood 'em out!

In the afternoon, when it was time to start cooking, I fired up some coals and put the dutch oven on.  The first step was to cook up the bacon.  I cut it into one inch chunks and dropped it all in.  It took a while, but once it was done, it hadn't rendered out that much grease, not like normal.  So, I just added the sliced onions and the minced garlic to sautee.

Once those were good and carmelized, I moved that all to the sides and put the ground turkey in the middle to brown.  When that was done, I stirred it all together.

This whole process probably took about 45 minutes, so I had to replenish the coals along the way. 

Then, I drained off the murky water the beans had soaked in, and added the stock and the fresh water.  I went ahead and measured the water as well, so that it was more accurate.  I don't know that it mattered much, but I did.

At that point, I let it cook for quite a while.  A couple of hours, really.  I kept replenishing the coals, looking more for a steady simmer than a rolling boil.  Once the beans were cooked soft, you can pretty much consider your chili "done", but I kept going.  Partly because the chili cookoff was still an hour or so away, but also to get more simmering in on the flavors.

A word on the heat:  I would recommend putting a half-jalapeno in the chili to start with, and then, after about 10-15 minutes of simmering, checking the taste.  If it still needs more heat, then you can add it.  That way, you can give it as much oomph as you like.

The final step was the last bits of flavoring and thickening.  I like the corn meal is a great thickener in chili.  It blends well with the southwest kinda feel of the meal.

One of the great things about chili is that it can be anything. That's one of the things this chili cookoff shows me each year.  All these dishes, and they're all so unique and so different, and yet, they're all chili.  What is it that makes them all "chili"?  Some have meat, some don't.  Some have beans, and some don't.  Some are hot and some are sweet.  Really, what is it that defines "chili"?

The cool thing about that is that you can really do almost anything.  There's no reason not to jump in and try it, because you really can't screw it up!


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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: "Alleluia" Needs More Work, Hope for 2010,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner in the Dutch Ovens, Part III


Now, this bread recipe is one that I've done before.  It's a simple, sweet, and soft sandwich loaf (I get bonus blogger points for alliteration).

So, even though I've done this bread before, I'm writing about it again, because I learned something very important.  In the process, I've salvaged my bread-baking confidence.  Let me tell you the story. 

Over the last few months, I've tried to make some breads, but they've not worked out well.  I first noticed it when I tried to make my sister's whole wheat recipe.  It was very difficult to knead it enough to get a good gluten windowpane (see below) going on.  After 30-40 minutes or so, it would kinda come together, but not really, and I would give up.  It would rise, but not as I hoped it would, and when it all baked it was heavy with a hard crust.

I just figured that it was because that's how whole wheat is, right?  But that's not how it was when Mom made it so many years ago...

Then my wife tried to make rolls that ended up like bricks.  I thought to myself, "She didn't knead them enough."  Fortunately, I didn't say anything, because when I did make a white bread a few days later, I had the same problem.

I was really down about it.  Here I'd been all confident that I was really learning how to make bread, and suddenly nothing was working!  I just didn't get it at all!

Gradually it dawned on me that the white flour I'd been using might be bad.  It had been a part of Jodi's step-dad's food storage for years, and he had given it to us.  I checked with my sister, who's been a wonderful source of inspiration and guidance, and she thought it might be the problem, too.

So, when I did the bread for the Christmas feast, I bought a fresh batch of bread flour and did it all again, just like I had before.  Right away, I could tell a difference.  The dough was more white, where the bad dough had been kind of yellow.  It felt better in my fingers as I kneaded it.  This was how I remembered it.  I got to the point where I could do a full gluten window in about ten minutes of kneading.


Jodi's Bread in the Dutch Oven

12” Dutch Oven
17 coals above, 8 below for 350 degrees (in normal weather, more in cold)

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 3/4 cup honey

  • 4-5 cups flour, with probably about cup to be added during kneading
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cups milk (mixed from powder)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp oil
  • An egg to coat the top

First, I activated the yeast.  I got fully hot tap water, and added the honey to it.  This cooled it significantly, but it was still quite warm.  I added the yeast to that and let it sit and grow foamy for a while.

Then, in a separate bowl, I added the flour, and the other ingredients.  I added in the yeast/honey mix and stirred it all up with a wooden spoon.  It came loose from the sides of the bowl, but was still quite sticky.

Then, I floured up the countertop, and dumped it out.  I sprinkled more flour onto the dough ball and started kneading.  It was still quite sticky, but I kept kneading and sprinkling on more flour gradually until it no longer consistently stuck to my fingers and the table.

Then I kept kneading until I could make a good windowpane.  For those that don't understand that yet, you cut of a chunk of the dough and make a ball about the size of a golf ball.  Then you stretch it out with your fingers like you're making a pizza.  You keep stretching until it tears.  If you can stretch it thin and translucent without it tearing, then you've achieved the "Gluten Windowpane", and you're done kneading.  If it keeps tearing, then you need to knead more.

Once it was ready, I used spray oil on the mixing bowl and put it back in.  I sprayed another coating of oil on top to keep it from drying out, covered it with a towel, and set it aside to rise. 

It rose up very nicely, just like I had hoped it would.  That was the second sign that it was working.

Once it had risen, I went outside and started up the coals.  It would take a while for the coals and the oven to get ready while I proofed the bread. 

I came back in and dumped out the dough.  Using one of those cool pastry cutters, I cut it into quarters and formed each quarter into a ball.  You pull the surface around and underneath, then pinch it together.  That stretches the surface smooth.  I quickly sprayed oil into the dutch oven, and put each dough ball on the bottom, like in quarters.  Then I set the dutch oven aside to rise again ("proofing"). 

In the meantime, I took the dutch oven lid outside and poured some coals onto it, about 20 or so, so that it would pre-heat.  After about 20 minutes, the dough balls had risen some, and I knew the lid was good and hot.  I coated the dough balls with the beaten egg.  Then, outside, I made a ring of coals and set the dutch oven onto it, and closed on the lid. 

I let it cook for about an hour.  Every 15 minutes or so, I rotated the lid about a quarter turn, and then lifted and turned the oven itself.  This helps reposition the coals relative to the oven and the bread inside, so you don't get hot spots.  After about a half hour, I put a cooking thermometer into the dough and reclose the lid.  That allows me to check the internal temperature of the bread.  Soft breads like this are done at about 180-200 degrees F.

When it was done, I pulled it off.  I let it cool a little in the oven with the lid off.  I need to get one of those drying racks so that the bottom can air out while it cools.  Then it won't be quite so moist and squishy.

So, the lesson I learned:  If you're using food storage flour, make sure that you actually use it and not just keep it under your stairs for a hundred years.  If it's that old, if it doesn't respond, throw it out.  There's not much use for it.  My wife even tried to make brownies with it, using baking powder, and it didn't even work well for that.


More Dutch Oven Bread-Making Notes from Mark:  This post was written almost a week ago.  Since then (today, in fact) I re-attempted the whole wheat bread recipe from a few weeks ago, this time with the fresh bread flour.  It was a little nerve-wracking, because it still took a long time to get the proper knead goin' on, and it was still a two-hour rise. Still, I after the first rise, I formed two loaves, side by side in the dutch oven, and let it proof.  I got a successful proof rise, which I hadn't before, while I was getting coals ready and pre-heating the dutch oven lid.

It turned out GREAT!  I was so excited.  The crust was strong, but not rock-hard like before.  Well, the bottom crust was harder than I would have liked.  I need to be better about managing the bottom heat on the dutch oven.  The crumb was soft and with a good texture.  The honey gave it a very sweet flavor as well.


Another note:  For the past five-six days or so, I've been trying to catch a sourdough start.  I put out some flour and water, and just for the sake of the experiment, I put a half-tub of plain yogurt in it as well.  I kept feeding it by adding more flour and water over the course of the days, and today, I noticed it bubbling up a bit!  Then, when I was done with the whole wheat bread, I noticed that it was really frothy!  That means that I caught the yeast spores, and they had multiplied.  I think next week, I'll do a sourdough bread.

That reminds me - Next weekend is our church's annual Chili Cookoff!  Woo Hoo!


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: Joyful Noises - Jan 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner in the Dutch Ovens, Part II


For a long time, it was a Christmas tradition of mine to make some wassail and take it to work.  That really doesn't work out very well at my new job, however, so I haven't done it in a couple of years.  Still, I like the flavors and the aroma of cinnamon, apple, and orange.

So, when Jodi said that her step-dad was coming over for dinner on Christmas Eve, and that he'd bought us a ham to cook up, I started thinking about what I could do with it.  She suggested something with the oranges we have.  That triggered the idea:  I could do the wassail on the ham!

Dutch Oven Wassail Ham

14" dutch oven

8-9 coals below
16-18 coals above

  • Ham
  • 1 Orange, sliced
  • cloves

  • 1/2 can orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 can apple juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • cinnamon
  • Orange zest
Universal Housewares Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Camping Dutch Oven
My original intent was to cook this ham low and slow.  The ham itself was pre-cooked, so I would only need to bring it up to temperature with my flavorings, rather than actually cook the meat.  I wanted to set up my ovens to cook at about 250 degrees (F), but I'm not sure that I actually pulled that off.

First of all, this was also a pre-sliced ham, so it was easy to put the cloves in the slots of the slices.  If it hadn't been pre-sliced, I would have cut the traditional diamond angle slashes in the top and inserted the cloves into those cuts.

I put the ham into the dutch oven, for starters.  I sliced up an orange into thin rings, and laid those on top of the ham.  The ones that were on more slopey sides, I secured with a half-toothpick.  With that little bit of preparation, I put the oven on the coals, listed above.  If I could have found my small oven thermometer, I would have put that in the bottom of the dutch oven, to monitor the surrounding air temperature.  I still think that in most conditions, those coal counts will be pretty accurate.  It was cold out, so that threw off my estimates.

After about an hour, I made the glaze from the second set of ingredients.  I put them all in an 8" dutch oven and put that on some coals so that it would reduce.  It did some, but I would have liked it to get thicker.  Still, I poured that over the ham.

From then on, I would check the internal temperature of the ham about ever half hour to 45 minutes or so, and, with a basting syringe, reapply the glaze.  It took about 2-3 hours, total.  I brought it up to 140 degrees, even though I'd heard that 120 is sufficient.  It didn't turn out dry, so I was pleased.


It was delicious, and it captured that wassail flavor.  I think next time, I'll go a little heavier on the cinnamon, and watch the heat on the oven better, to keep it closer to 250.

Next: Part III of the Christmas Dinner:  The Bread

EXTRA: I got contacted by a new dutch oven blogger!  Her site is http://dutchovenmadness.blogspot.com/.  She says she wants to cook in her dutch oven every day in 2010.  I'm looking forward to her recipes and experiences.

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

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