Friday, August 17, 2012

Announcements, Announcements, Announcements!

Today, I have two very exciting bits of news:

1 - My next book, the second in the “Black Pot Series”, titled “Black Pot for Beginners” is now available for pre-release orders at!  This one is not just a compilation of recipes and stories, however.  It’s a step-by-step, lesson-by-lesson guide to learning how to cook in a Dutch oven.  It’s very clear, detailed, and in-depth.  If you were to start at step one, and cook through to step 9, you’d get to the end as a quite accomplished Dutch oven chef!  Here are the chapters:

Lesson 1 - Instant Success - Your first surefire Dutch oven dish: Chicken and Potatoes
Lesson 2 - the Dutch Oven and the Gear - Learn about your equipment, and make a peach cobbler
Lesson 3 - Basic Cheffery - Make a delicious chilli and learn to use your knife along the way!
Lesson 4 - More Soups, Stews, and Cuts - Sauteing, browning, and simmering, along with more knife cuts
Lesson 5 - Heat and Meat - Managing the heat over a long roasting time can be challenging.  This lesson makes it simple
Lesson 6 - Herbs, Spices, and Flavorings - How to make your dishes leap off the plate!
Lesson 7 - Flour, Soda, and Heat, Part 1 - Quick bread and biscuits, with baking soda!
Lesson 8 - Flour, Soda, and Heat, Part 2 - Cakes and desserts
Lesson 9 - Putting it all Together - Planning and cooking a whole meal

It’s a great book, and anyone who wants to learn how to cook in a Dutch oven, even as an absolute beginner, can learn from it.

2 - This saturday, I’ll be demoing some recipes from the first book at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Midvale, UT.  It’s at 165 W. 7200 S. Midvale, UT

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I’ll be there from 11:00 in the morning through about 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.  I’ll be cooking up some chili and some other as of yet undecided dishes.    If you live in the Salt Lake Metro area, come on out and I’ll be happy to sign your books!  It’s really important to me to have a good turnout, so if it’s at all possible, come out and taste some great food!

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

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mark’s Dutch Oven Rolled Steak Roast

This was an experiment I tried a few weeks ago.  I’d seen things like it in pictures, magazines, and I’d seen something pre-prepared in my grocer’s meat section.  I’d thought about how to do it myself, and wasn’t quite sure if I could pull it off.

The idea is to get some very thin steaks, and to roll some delicious veggie things inside it, almost like a beef sushi.  Except, of course, that you cook it.  And that the green stuff is on the inside.  OK, it’s really nothing like a sushi.  Fine.

I think it ended up quite tasty, and quite elegant as well.

12” shallow Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
12-14 coals above

2 lbs of steak, cut to ¼ inch thickness or less.

Fresh baby spinach
Provolone Cheese

5-6 Potatoes, cubed
2 onions, quartered

I started out by lighting up a bunch of coals and letting them start to get white.

While that was going on, I seasoned both sides of the steaks by shaking on the herbs and spices you see listed.  I don’t list amounts because I just went with what I grabbed first, and estimated what might be good.  You may end up with totally different spices when you go to your cabinet.  Balance them with a bit of care, however.  Be gentle with the cayenne, for example.  You want it to have some kick, but not burn.  Once the meat was seasoned, I set it aside for a while.

In the meantime, I minced up the garlic and cut the stems off the baby spinach.  I also snapped the ends off the asparagus and cut up the potatoes and onions.

After about this time, the coals were ready.  I spread some oil around the inside, then put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bottom.  I set this on and under the coals to preheat.  This will also set some of the oil and help to build up your patina.

Then, to rolling the meat.

I laid out the strips of meat side-by-side, so the edges were overlapping a little bit, with the seasoned face down.  I scattered the minced garlic over the upside, and then laid out the spinach leaves in a pattern to cover, about 2-3 leaves thick.  On top of that, I spread a layer of thinly sliced provolone.  Finally, across the bottom, I took the asparagus sprigs and laid them, alternating.  By that, I mean that I wanted to get the heads of the stalks in different places along the meat, so that when I sliced it, I would get it evenly distributed.  Does that make any sense?

Finally, I rolled it all up, pretty tightly.

I tied it up with some string.  It’s tricky to describe how I tied it.  I slid the string underneath at one end and tied a knot.  Then I slid more string, starting from the other end, until it was a few inches from the first knot.  I looped it under itself, and tightened it.  I kept repeating that, until the entire roll was secure.  I drizzled on a little more olive oil.

Cooking it was a little tricky.  I poured the potatoes and onions into the now-heated Dutch oven and spread them out.  I tossed over a little bit of salt and pepper, just for good measure.  I laid the steak roll over the potatoes, and stuck in a short-stemmed thermometer before closing off the lid.

You have to be careful how long you cook it, and since the steak is thin, and the thermometer is essentially sticking into the veggies, it’s a good gauge, but not fully accurate to the steak’s done-ness.  It’s really easy to overcook the steak.  Still, I cooked it to 145, and it turned out pretty good.  It gets there pretty quick, in a preheated Dutch oven, so watch it closely.

When it’s done, pull it off the coals, but let it rest while you set the table.  Then, slice it into medallions or sushi slices or whatever you want to call them, and serve them on their side with the potatoes and onions, and whatever other side dishes you have also made.  It’s really quite an elegant presentation!

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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I’ve been cooking a lot of fancy things lately, trying to get more fodder for my third book, which will be all about international dishes and things that are more complex and tricky.  That’s been fun and challenging, but it has left me kind of creatively drained.

A little while ago, I decided to revisit a traditional Dutch oven basic: barbecued chicken.  In its simplest form, all you have to do is put some chicken parts in a dutch oven and pour in some barbecue sauce on top of them.  Then ya roast it up, and serve it!  No fuss, and a delicious meal.  If you have some hamburger buns, you can pull the chicken apart and stir it all back into the sauce, then have it as sandwiches.

If you wanted, you could do all that from scratch.  Well, I wanted, and this is how I did it:

Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

The Buns

12” Shallow Dutch oven
12-14 coals below
24-26 coals above

½ Cup of 110° water
2 tablespoon active dry yeast
¾ Cup of 110° milk
¼ cup sugar
3 Tbsp butter
2 tsp salt
4-5 cups fresh bread flour (if the flour is old, add 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 egg

1 egg
Sesame seeds
poppy seeds

Mark’s Meat Rub

1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp crushed coriander
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp oregano

The Chicken

12” Shallow Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
12-14 coals above

1-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
2 medium onions, quartered
3-4 medium potatoes in ¾” cubes

The Sauce

1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
Brown sugar
Some kind of hot spice (Cayenne Pepper or Chili powder)

I’m going to describe the steps for the buns and the chicken and sauce separately.

I started out by activating the yeast in the water.  I set that aside to get all foamy, while I gathered the rest of the ingredients.  I always use bread yeast when making yeast breads, but if it gets more than a couple of months old, I always add a little bit of vital wheat gluten powder.  Otherwise, it will never get decent gluten development, and won’t rise well.

I added all of the dry ingredients together (using just 4 cups of flour), then poured in the wet, and mixed it all to a dough ball.  I turned that out onto my floured tabletop and began kneading.  I kept adding more flour as I needed (kneaded?) to make it the right texture and not so sticky.  Finally, after about 10 minutes or so, it passed the windowpane test (  I oiled a bowl and set it aside to raise.

After raising, I lit up some coals.  I punched punched down the dough and cut it into 8 equal parts.  These I shaped into dough balls.  I flattened them under my palm on the table top.  All of these went into the oiled Dutch oven.  I took the Dutch oven lid out and poured a lot of burning coals on top of it, to preheat.

After about 20-25 minutes, the dough balls were rising again, and the lid was hot.  I whipped up an egg and coated the top of each bun using a basting brush, then sprinkled on the other toppings.  Then I put on the lid and adjusted the coals above and below.  I baked them for about 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature hit about 180-200.

When they were done, I pulled them out and put them on a cooling rack.

Then, on to the Chicken!

First, I made sure that the chicken was thawed, rinsed off, and patted dry.  Then, I coated all of the pieces with the meat rub.  I actually had quite a bit left over in a spice jar, from another time I used it.  It’s one of my own spice blends, and I actually use it quite a bit.

I cubed up the potatoes and quartered the onions and laid them in the bottom of another 12” Dutch oven.  I laid the chicken parts above those, and set it on the coals to roast.

I decided to add the sauce after the fact, and let the spice rub flavor the chicken first.  I mixed the sauce while the meat was cooking.  I did it pretty much in the order listed above.  I didn’t put in amounts, because when I make BBQ sauce, I make it more by taste.  I started with the two cans of tomato paste and sauce, and from there just added each ingredient, tasting along the way.  I wanted to get a good balance of all of the ingredients.

When the chicken was cooked to 170 degrees, internally, I pulled it off the coals.  I put the chicken in a bowl and let them cool a bit, but not too much.  Just to the point of being cool enough to handle without intense burning pain.  Using a couple of forks, I shredded the chicken.

I also pulled the potatoes and onions out of the dutch oven, and separated out the onions as much as I could.  I chopped the onions using the mincing knife technique, but still leaving pretty big chunks, and added those back into the chicken.  Then, I poured in the sauce and stirred it all together.  I didn’t use up all of the sauce, just enough to give the chicken a good coating.

The potatoes, you could serve up as you please.  They would be tasty as they were, but I actually made a potato salad out of them.

The whole meal was delicious and very “homey”!

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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