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
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 MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.