Monday, April 23, 2012

Dutch Oven Mole-Style Roast

It all started because I wanted to do something DIFFERENT...

...but I didn’t know what.

That’s nothing new, really.  I find myself in that position a lot.  I want to cook, but I don’t know what I have ingredients for, and I don’t know what I’m up against, etc... I do like to push myself, though.  That’s one reason why I love to do the challenges with Andy over at

I even considered asking him if he was up for a challenge.  In the end, I thought about chocolate.  I wanted to try using chocolate in a savory dish.  I’ve done chocolate brownies, chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies, etc...  But never have I done a savory chocolate meal.

My mind went instantly to mole.  There are two nationalities who really know how to do chocolate.  One is the Mexicans and one is the Dutch.  Oh, and the Swiss, too.  I loves me my Toblerone!

As I looked at various mole recipes online, I found a lot of things in common, and, as I expected, a lot of things different. There really IS a lot of things you can do and still call it a mole.  And really, I wasn’t so much wanting a TRUE and TRADITIONAL mole. For example, almost all of the meats I’d seen in mole recipes were chicken or pork.  I could have done that, sure, but I had this small beef roast that I wanted to try.  I didn’t see any beef mole recipes.  Maybe they’re out there, maybe not.  I didn’t see any.

So, I don’t know if I’m supposed to be able to do beef or not, but I did.

I also thought it would be cool to do the roast medium rare.  I’m not sure why I wanted it that way. Maybe it just sounded fancier.  In the end, it ended up rare, because of a bad calibration on my thermometer. It truly tasted GREAT, though.

Mark’s Dutch Oven Mole-styled Roast

12” Dutch oven

20 + coals below, then
14 coals above and 12 coals below

8” Dutch oven

6-7 coals below

  • 1 2-3 lb beef roast
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ cup beef broth (you might want more)
  • 2 1 oz cubes semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons raisins or dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 3 oz (1/2 6 oz can) tomato paste

It started off by lighting up some coals.  As they were getting white, I seasoned both sides of the well-thawed roast with plenty of salt and pepper.  This was set aside to soak into the meat.

When the coals were hot, I dusted the inside of the 12” Dutch oven with a bit of oil and set it on top of the coals to preheat, and to season a bit.  After a while, I added some olive oil to it and let that heat to shimmery. I laid the roast in and seared it for a few minutes on each side, to get some good carmelization going.  Once that was in place, I adjusted the coals for the roasting and relaxed.

After about forty-five minutes, It was time to make the mole sauce.  I also made some veggies as a side dish at this point, but that’ll be a subject for a different blog, on a different day.

The mole sauce was simply a matter of mixing the ingredients in the 8”and putting it on the coals.  I let it simmer slowly, melting the chocolate and combining the flavors.  While the roast is still cooking, spread a coating of the sauce on.

Carefully watch the temperature of the roast.  When the internal temperature gets to 140, take it off the coals, but leave it in the Dutch oven to rest. The residual heat of the Dutch oven will bring the temperature up to about 145 or 150 degrees, which is a nice, comfortable medium doneness.  (Like I said earlier, I had problems with my thermometer, so it did turn out quite rare. Still, it was delicious.

I served it with the veggies on the side, and a drizzle of more sauce on top, to the rave reviews of my children.  I know it’s good when they give me the thumbs up!

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

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Seafood Feast Part II- Dutch Oven Mussels

For a long time, now, my family have frequented a certain Chinese/Asian buffet house.  They have great food, and the people who run it are wonderful.  We love their more traditional Chinese dishes, and we also love their sushi. Brendon particularly likes their unagi.

They have one dish that I love, that I had vowed to attempt. I don’t know just how authentically Chinese it is, but I love the taste!  I also vowed that when I attempted it, I would not duplicate it, but would rather explore it on my own!

It is a mussel, cooked in its own half-shell, with a layering of cream cheese and a sprinkling of cheddar on top.  I did some research, and found out a lot about cooking and working with mussels.  I cooked this the same day as the smoked salmon of the previous blog entry. It was a bit tricky working both dishes at the same time, but in the end they really complemented each other. Here is my experience:

Dutch Oven Three-Cheese Baked Mussels

12” Dutch oven

Steaming: 22+ coals below
Baking: 8-10 coals below, 18-20 coals above

  • 2x 8 oz bricks cream cheese 
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sun dried tomato 
  • Parmesan cheese 
  • herbs (I used thyme and rosemary)
  • chives
  • salt 
  • lemon zest 
  • chili powder 
  • grated cheddar cheese

  • 3-4 lb live mussels
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

The Rice

8” Dutch oven

10-12 coals below

  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 2 cups liquid (from the mussels - add water as needed)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Because there would be relatively little time once the cooking got started, the first step was to prepare the cheese topping. I just added all the items on the list together and mixed it upwith a fork.  Because of the ingredients I chose, it really ended up being much more Mediterranean in flavor, rather than Chinese.  Still, I think it tasted great!

I don’t really remember the exact amounts of each flavoring item.  I added things at the top of the list in slightly greater quantities than the things at the bottom (chili powder being the least of all), but really, I just mixed it all and tasted it as I went.  While I did add some Cheddar to the overall mix, I didn’t add much, as I knew that more would be sprinkled on top later.

The coals were already started for the salmon, so I didn’t have to get anything set aside special for this dish.  I just had to make sure that there were enough getting white to accommodate.  While that was happening, I started to clean the mussels. I got them into my sink, and scrubbed each one down, on both sides of the shell, with a plastic brush.  Many of them had a little stringy substance dangling out between the two shell halves.  This is called the “beard”, and I scraped that off with a knife.

I’d read to remove those that were opened. The instructions said that those were dead already.  That’s a little tricky to say, because there were quite a few that were slightly opened, that would close up again after we had separated them out.  I guess those ones weren’t so dead.  There were many, however, that were quite clearly open, and quite clearly dead.  I removed those.

There were a lot of them to clean.  About half-way through the process, I got the water and the cider in the bottom of the 12” Dutch oven, and I got that started on the coals, covered.  I wanted to get it boiling.

By the time I was completely finished cleaning all the mussels, it was boiling.  I just unceremoniously dumped them all in, stirred them up a bit, and closed the lid.  It didn’t take long, maybe ten minutes, to steam them open.  I’d read that you shouldn’t overcook them, especially at this stage.

I brought them in, off the coals, and drained them in a colander, retaining all the liquid for the rice.

I began the process of assembling the final half shells.  Here’s how it went:

  • First, I pulled the shells open.  Usually, one of the shells (the “top”) was free of meat, and the other (the “bottom”) held the mussel.  I broke them apart, and discarded the top.
  • Then, I took an knife and ran it under the meat, cutting the attachment between it and the shell.  There’s one spot where it clings pretty tight, and it makes it much easier to eat if that’s severed. Still, I kept the meat in the shell bottom.
  • Next, I spread a bit of the cheese mix onto the shell and over the meat.  Not too much, it’s not there to smother, but to complement the meat.
  • Finally, I placed the shell into the bottom of the 12” Dutch oven. I kept repeating this whole process until they were all done. There were a lot of shells, so I had to pack them in pretty tight.
  • Finally, finally, I sprinkled on a layer of grated cheddar.

I put on the lid, and set it on some coals to bake.

Now, keep in mind that while I’m doing all of this, I’m constantly checking on the coals and the chips for the smoking salmon, and making sure that there are plenty of coals in the replenishing fire for the mussels.

I also took some time during the prep time to set the rice.  I measured the liquid I had drained off the mussels after the steaming.  I had read that the mussels would release a lot of their own liquid as they cooked, and that would be a good flavoring broth.  That, combined with the water, and the cider, and I had just under 2 cups. A little more water topped it right off.  This, along with 1 cup of rice, went onto the coals to cook.

A little bit after I had set the mussels on to bake, I could see the steam venting from under the lid of the 8” Dutch oven.  I let it go for about 5 more minutes, and then pulled it off the coals to finish steaming in its own residual heat.  Don’t take off the lid to check it!

The mussels in the 12” Dutch oven didn’t bake long.  You don’t want to overcook the meat.  You just want to heat up the cheese mixture, and melt the cheddar on top. I let it go about 10-20 minutes from the time I put it on.

I served it up with a few mussels on the plate, next to a bed of the rice, with a big cut of smoked salmon atop the bed.  It looked and tasted delicious, and I felt like I had really accomplished something.  I had done two dishes, one with a new technique, and another with a new main ingredient, neither of which I had ever tried before, and they were both successes.  That’s a good, good feeling!

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dutch Oven Seafood Feast, Part 1 - Smoking Salmon

A long time ago, I was surfin’ the ‘net, looking for some Dutch oven ideas, and I came across one called  One of the blog postings was all about smoking salmon in a Dutch oven.  When I first saw that I had one of those Sit-Back-And-Slap-Your-Forehead moments.  I knew that someday, I would try it.

This last weekend, I did.  In fact, I tried a couple of seafood dishes that had been stacking up in my queue.  Even though I cooked them simultaneously, I’ll write about them separately.

Now, not only was I trying out two dishes that I had never before tried, I was also trying a technique I had never even seen before.  Add to that the other dish was mussels, which I had no experience with, either, and my confusion and stress levels were high enough.

Then, to make matters worse, I invited my neighbors over!  What was I thinking? Didn’t I say, “Never cook a first time dish for friends”?  Yeah, well, I don’t take my advice, either.

So, I liked this guy’s idea for putting the chips under aluminum foil and a grill. But what if, I thought, you need to add more chips?  This was my idea:  Inside a larger Dutch oven, put a smaller Dutch oven lid, inverted, on a lid stand.  Chips go below, salmon on the lid, larger lid on top, propped open...   Boom.  Dutch oven smoker.

...But I had no idea if it would work.  Would it get hot enough to smolder the chips?  Would it be too hot so as to fast cook the salmon? I had no idea.

Dutch Oven Smoked Salmon

14” Deep Dutch oven
10” Dutch oven lid, with a lid stand

40 + coals below

  • 1 Salmon piece (~8 oz) per serving (I did about 7)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Any herbs you like (I used Thyme)
  • 1 Lemon

  • Smoking chips

I started by lighting up some coals.  I wanted to try out the setup, before I actually put the salmon on, to see if it would smoke.  I put the 14” on a monster boatload of coals.  I gave a rough count, and it was about 45.  I scattered a layer of dry smoking chips  (I used applewood) on the bottom.  On top of that, I put an oven thermometer.  I wanted to be able to monitor things.

I have a bent piece of wire, about ⅛ of an inch in diameter. I hooked that over the edge, and put the lid on. That raised the lid enough to vent.  I set that aside, and checked the temperature from time to time.

In the meantime, I prepared the salmon.  I trimmed off the skin, and shook some salt, pepper and herbs on each piece, both sides.  I left that to sit.

It took a while to heat up the Dutch oven, but once it did, I was very pleased to see smoke pouring out when I went to check it. The interior temperature was about 250, so that was also perfect for smoking. I put the lid stand in the middle of the Dutch oven, and put the lid on the stand, inverted.  I put the salmon on the resultant platform, and set the lid back on. Just to be sure I did it right, I put a short-stemmed meat thermometer in one of the thicker parts of salmon. I also left the oven thermometer in.

From that point on, I just checked the smoke, the temperatures, and the salmon every 30-40 minutes. It fluctuated as high as 350 and as low as 200. I tried to keep it lower. I did add coals, but after a while, I found it wasn’t as necessary to keep as many on to maintain good temperatures or smoke.  I did add some chips at one point because I saw it not smoking as much.  I just sprinkled them in through the gap between the lid and the wall of the 14”.

Finally, after about 2 hours, the meat temperature read about 170.  It was done!  And I served it up on the rice in part 2 of this writeup.

It was really, really, really delicious.


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

"The Best of the Black Pot"

On April 15, of 2007, I posted the first entry in this blog.

Today, I finally actually got to hold, in my grimy fists, tangible copies of “The Best of the Black Pot”.  It was a thrilling moment.  It was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of direct work, of five years of build-up, and the start of what will likely be many more years of work.

It’s been kind of a strange trip.  For the longest time, it felt very unreal.  I was writing, writing, and there was nothing.  Nothing tangible, I mean.  I saw proofs of the cover, and discussed marketing plans, but I couldn’t hold anything in my hands.

It’s exciting to read the many congratulatory and supportive comments I’ve received on facebook from family, friends, and even the occasional stranger.

In the process of gearing up for the promotional effort, a number of events, like demos and signings have been scheduled!  Here’s the current events:  Come on out and see me!

Saturday, April 14, 11:00 - 1:00   A cooking demo/signing at the Pleasant Grove Macey’s Grocery Store.  They’re having their case-lot sale, and I’ll be cooking some chili and cobbler featuring their case lot ingredients.  931 West State St. Pleasant Grove, UT

Saturday, April 21, 1:00 - 6:00  A signing at the Salt Lake City Costco at 1818 South 300 West Salt Lake City, Utah

Thursday, April 26, 5:00 - 7:00  A signing at the Lehi Costco at 198 North 1200 East, Lehi, UT

Saturday, April 28, 1:00 - 6:00  A signing at the Murray Costco at 5201 South Intermountain Drive, Murray, UT (at about 5200 S and State Street)

Saturday, May 5, 9:00 - 2:00  International Dutch Oven Society Spring Convention/Gathering at the Legacy Events Center (Formerly Davis County Fairgrounds) 151 South 1100 West, Farmington, UT.  I’ll be cooking in the Taste of Dutch demo area all day long!

Saturday, June 2, 9:00 - 2:00  Judging, Eagle Mountain Pony Express Days Cookoff!

Come on out to any of these events, and I’ll be happy to shake your hand, talk Dutch ovening, and sign a copy of the book!


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


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