Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dutch Oven Cabbage and Sausage

I don’t often use cabbage, but a couple of heads were given to us, and I had to think for a bit to figure out what to do with them.  A slaw, of course, is an obvious idea, but that’s uncooked.  Finally, I picked up some smoked sausage and went with this!

This dish is a comfort food from my childhood.  My mom used to make it in a slow cooker.  I don’t know the exact recipe she used, but I found a few that were close enough and blended them together.

12” Dutch oven

20+ coals underneath, to brown and saute
10-12 below, 16-18 above for the final cooking.

1-2 lbs smoked sausage or kielbasa
1 tablespoon butter
2 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, cored, seeded, and minced
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 apple, cored and sliced thin
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

I started by getting the coals hot, then heating up the Dutch oven over them. I wanted it pretty hot, so I let it sit for a bit. I sliced the sausage “on the bias” (at an angle) so there’d be more surface area to brown, and tossed them in.  They started sizzling immediately, letting me know that the oven was hot enough. I tossed them around and let them get nice and seared.

Then, I put in the butter and let it melt. While the sausage was sauteing, I had chopped and minced the other veggie ingredients. I tossed them in and stirred them to get them cooking.  I let them sweat with the salt and pepper.

While that was cooking, in between stirrings, I prepped the cabbage.  I took the Dutch oven off the coals and put in all the ingredients of the second set. I like it very acidic, so I didn’t scrimp on the lemon juice or the vinegar.  I rearranged the coals, and put the lid on, with coals on top. From there, it was a simple process to cook the cabbage down, stirring occasionally. It took about 25 minutes to a half hour, and I did replenish my coals (partly from time, and because it was cold and breezy out).

It’s easy to serve, too, just dish it out onto a plate or a bowl.  In the end it was delicious! I liked the tangy tones of the lemons with the edgy sweet tones of the cabbage and the apple. The savory sausage is a nice touch, too.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Food Storage Dutch Oven Chili

Exciting news!

I’ve been offered a contract for a fifth book, tentatively titled something like “Dutch Oven Preparedness”!  It will be all about using food storage ingredients in your Dutch oven.  The idea is that if you find yourself in an emergency situation without any electricity, you’ll still be able to cook and eat well!

Here’s one of the first ideas, that I tried out last week. It was unique for me, because I was faced with the challenge of cooking something delicious without using any fresh ingredients. That was hard for me, because I’ve always emphasized the value of freshness. But in the end, it came off great!

Food Storage Dutch Oven Chili with Beef Jerky

12” shallow Dutch Oven

20+ coals below

12-16 oz  lbs beef jerky, any flavor you like.
4 cups water

3/4 - 1 cup dehydrated onions
3/4 - 1 cup dehydrated green peppers
3/4 - 1 cup dehydrated celery

1 15 oz can pinto beans
1 15 oz can red kidney beans
1 15 oz can black beans
(or 1 1/2-2 lbs dried, bagged beans, soaked overnight in water)
2 14 oz cans minced or crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups additional water, as needed

Chili Powder and/or cayenne
garlic powder
dried lemon zest

1-2 Tbsp corn flour

I started this out a little different than a traditional fresh-ingredient chili.  Usually, I’ll begin by sauteing the aromatics.  In this case, I want to start by rehydrating some of the ingredients and extracting some of the rich flavors, creating the broth first.  I lit up some coals and when they were whitening, I put about 20 or more under my 12” Dutch oven.

Then, I put in 2 cups of the water and let that get heated up.  I did this with the lid on, because it simmers faster.  While that was heating up, I chopped up the jerky into chunks with my chef’s knife.  I didn’t want the chunks to be too small.  Bite-sized, really.  I put those into the simmering water, and stirred occasionally.  After about a half hour, the water was quite dark with the liquids and seasonings of the meat. I added two more cups of water, and tossed in the dehydrated  veggies.  I let it simmer some more.

After another 15-20 minutes of continuous simmering, all the dried stuff was puffing up and the smells were getting rich. Much of the water had been absorbed, but there was still a lot of liquid. I added the beans and other canned ingredients.  Usually, when I make chili, I like to add different beans because it makes for more visual variety.  I’ve heard that combining bean varieties is more healthy, too, but I don’t know that for sure.  I’ll usually drain all but one can, and use the liquid from that last can as part of the liquid of the broth.  If I use dry bagged beans, I’ll usually drain off any of the leftover soaking liquid before adding them. The tomato cans I add in completely, with the liquid.  If you need more liquid, you can add more at this point, or not drain the cans.

All along this time, I was adding more coals from the side fire, replenishing as necessary to keep a steady simmer (not a rolling boil) going.

When that has been simmering for a while, I began adding in the flavorings.  When I start adding heat, I’ll sprinkle some in, let it simmer, then taste it.  You can always add more hot pepper flakes or cayenne, but you can’t remove it if you put in too much.  I didn’t put any amounts on these flavorings, because you’ll really just do it to taste.  I find, for example, that the dried lemon zest flavor gets lost easily, so I like at add a lot.

Finally, the corn flour can be added a bit at a time to thicken it up if necessary.  As thickeners go, I like it for chili because it adds a certain southwest tone to the whole pot.

Finally, serve it up!  A great bowl of chili from food entirely stored on your shelf.

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

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Dinner, Part 2: Nusskuchen in a Dutch Oven

Nusskuchen (pronounced like: NOOS-COO-khen) is a German nut cake.  In fact, it’s a direct translation. “Nuss” means “nut”, and “kuchen” means “cake”. In our family, my mother made it every Christmas time. It’s not for everyone, because it’s a very dry and heavy cake, not light and fluffy like most cakes we Americans are used to.  The glaze gives it a bit more moisture.  Still I love the nutty and cocoa laden taste.  When mom made it, she usually used walnuts, because we had them falling from the trees in our backyard every fall. Since my wife’s tongue gets sores from walnuts, I used hazelnuts.  Pecans or english walnuts would also work.


8” Dutch oven

6-7 coals below
10-12 coals above

1/2 cups + 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cups + 1 tbsp sugar
2 Eggs

3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup corn starch
3 Tbsp cocoa

1/2 cup + ground or chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Before I start in on the instructions, let me say a few words about the ingredients.  First of all, my mom’s original recipe used the all-purpose flour and the corn starch.  I’m told that it’s actually a way of conveniently substituting for cake flour, so I think you could try this with 1 full cup of cake flour.  Second, the dark Chocolate Chips was my addition.  I like the dark chocolate because it seems to blend well with the flavors of the cocoa and the nuts.

Notice also that there is no leavening in the ingredients.  No yeast, no baking soda or baking powder.  That’s one of the things that makes it so dense.  Still, to make it a bit lighter, it’s important to start the ingredients at room temperature and cream the butter and the sugar a lot.  You want to get as much air into the mixture as possible.

So, I started with that process, using a slotted metal spoon back.  It took a very long time, and it was a real workout, but eventually it got to the point where it looked like a fluffy frosting.  Then, while continuing to beat the mix, I added the eggs in, one at a time.

Then, I took a break and mixed all of the powdered ingredients in another bowl.  I sifted the flour so as to get even a bit more aeration. Once that was done, I lit the coals.  In this case, I just went out and made sure that there were new fresh coals in the chimney, as I was cooking the bacon-turkey in the previous blog entry.  Then I prepared the Dutch oven.  I oiled and floured the interior. I would have put down a disc of parchment, but I couldn’t find it.  Oh, well.

With the Dutch oven ready, and the coals getting hot, I blended the wet and dry ingredients.  It wasn’t easy, but I beat them together with as much vigor as I could muster, again, to get as much air as possible into the batter. Finally, added in the nuts and the chocolate chips, mixing some more. I poured it into the Dutch oven and took that out onto the coals.

It did take a long time to bake, and it was kind of difficult to tell, since it’s a pretty dry mix.  Go easy on any replenishment, especially of the bottom coals, because it’s very easy for the bottom to burn. I Checked it at about 45 minutes, and it was done.  While was cooking I made the simple glaze.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
hot water or milk to texture

I simply measured out the powdered sugar into a bowl and added in bits of the hot liquid while stirring with a small whisk.  After a few additions of the liquid, it started to look like a drizzle, and I just dusted in a little more sugar to thicken it back up.

When the nusskuchen is done, take it off the coals and let it cool with lid off.  Upend the Dutch oven and use your hand to steady the cake out.  Slice it and serve it with the glaze.  It’s got tones of sweet and bitterness that combine nicely.  I really love it!

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

Christmas Dinner: Part 1: Bacon-Draped Turkey in the Dutch Oven

This holiday season has been quite a hectic, crazy one.  Between my son’s knee surgeries and my general work schedule, I’ve barely had time to think.  I still got out and cooked in my Dutch ovens, but I just haven’t been writing about it.  I’ve got a backlog of recipes to catch up on!

I thought I’d start with Christmas dinner.  Since family parties and obligations meant that I didn’t do a Thanksgiving turkey this year, I thought I’d do it for Christmas.  A neighbor, in his kindness gave us a 13 lb hen, and I roasted it up.  I really like the smaller turkeys.  Not only do they fit in the Dutch oven better, but they’re more tender and juicy, I think.  I did this one a new way, draped in bacon.  It was delicious.  Here’s the process:

14” Dutch oven

14-16 coals below
20-22 coals above

1 12-14 lb Turkey hen
13 oz salt (about half of a 26 oz carton)
1 1 lb brown sugar
Water to cover

2-3 large potatoes
2-3 Medium onions
Cayenne Pepper
1 lb sliced bacon

A few days before the big day, I started thawing the turkey. The best way to do that is to move it from the freezer to the fridge. We were having 30-40 degree days, so I just set it in the garage, still in its plastic packaging.

The night before cooking, I set up the brine.  This is going to be an overnight soak in a salt water solution to tenderize the meat and give it a bit of tang. I usually do this in a travel cooler. The best I’ve found is the large, round drink coolers. But use whatever you’ve got. I started by putting in about 2” of hot tap water in the bottom. To that, I added the salt and the sugar. I stirred this all up and got it as dissolved as I could. Then, I added a few more inches of cold water, stirring as I went.

I unpacked the turkey and stuck a lot of holes in the skin all around with a paring knife.  This helps the brine get more into the meat. I set it in the water (which actually looks really gross with the brown sugar in it), and then poured in enough water to cover the turkey.  As a last bit, I usually add in some ice. I always do that in the summer so that it stays cool overnight. In the winter, I just let the cold of the night in the garage keep it the right temperature.

By morning it was nicely brined and evenly thawed, ready for the fire.

Since this was to be served in the early evening, I started preparing it at about 11:00.  I first cubed up the potatoes into one inch blocks and tossed them around the bottom of the lightly oiled Dutch oven. The onions, too. You could add more veggies if you wanted, like celery and carrots. The point of the potatoes is to lift the turkey up above the juices that cook out. Then I went out and lit up a chimney full of coals.

I set the turkey onto the potatoes and onions. Then I sprinkled some salt, pepper and paprika over the upper surface of the bird.  After it was roasting, I thought it would be kinda tasty to have layered the top with honey. If you try that, let me know how it turns out.

Finally, I simply draped the bacon strips over the top of the turkey.  There were sufficient strips to layer them twice, once across the chest, and once on lengthwise. Once that was done, it was time to start roasting!

I went out and set it on the coals. Typically, when roasting, you do the same number below and above, but I usually go a few more above, just because heat rises. And where it’s winter and there was a breeze to blow away some of the heat, I went with that.  I wasn’t shooting for too hot of a roasting temp, about 350°F. Lower than that will just make for a slower roast, which tastes better anyway.

At that point, it was just a matter of keeping the Dutch oven hot with fresh coals.  Like I said, it was a bit breezy, so the coals burned a bit quicker. I like to do my turkeys to an internal temperature of between 170 and 180°F, just to make sure that it’s done all the way through.  The seasonings and the bacon combined to a nice flavor with supplemented the turkey without overpowering it.  It was a great centerpiece for the Christmas meal!

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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