Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dutch Oven Shrimp Bisque

Once we went to a really fancy italian restaurant, and my sons both tried the lobster bisque. They had heard some comedian talking about it, so they had to try it. Well, of course, they loved it.

I tasted it, too, and I was really impressed. Naturally, when I’m impressed, I want to try to make it. So, I did some research and found some good recipes. Unfortunately, lobster if quite expensive. I decided to do it with shrimp, which, of course, isn’t cheap, either, but at least it’s not as pricey as lobster.

It has a lot of steps, but it’s very flavorful, because of the shrimp stock you make!

2x 12” Dutch oven

each with 20+ coals below

2-3 lbs shrimp
6-8 cups water
1 14 oz can tomato paste

1 1/2 medium onion
3-4 stalks celery, including leaves
3-4 carrots

fresh parsley
chili powder
lemon juice

6 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch

There are a few ways you could approach this bisque. One way is to use uncooked, unshelled shrimp. Another is to use shrimp that are uncooked, deveined (but still in the shell). A third is to use whole shrimp, complete with the heads. The more stuff that comes with the shrimp, the more flavor you’ll have in your stock. It’s more work, but I’d recommend the whole shrimp. It doesn’t really make a lot of difference how big the shrimp is, either. For this instance, I used uncooked, unshelled shrimp (no heads) that are about the size you normally see in shrimp platters.

I started out with one of my 12" shallow Dutch ovens, covered, with the water.  Once the water was boiling, I tossed in the shrimp and watched them turn that sweet pink\orange shade and curl. If you cook the shrimp too long, they get all rubbery. Once they were done, I pulled them out of the water, but left the Dutch oven on the coals.

Then, I doused them in cold water while I peeled the shells, tails, and deveined them. I threw away the veins, of course, but the shells and tails (and heads if you’ve got them) all went back into the stock to boil some more.  I set aside the shrimp meat, reserving it for later. Once all the shrimp shells and parts were happily boiling away, I added the tomato paste.

I put the lid on and let that boil for a long time. How long? Well, that kinda depends on how much time you have. The longer it boils, the more flavorful the stock. I let it go for about an hour.

As that time was nearing an end, I got a second dutch oven on some coals, with just a bit of oil in the bottom, and I started dicing up the veggies in the second set of ingredients. I tossed those in the second Dutch oven and cooked them until they were quite soft. Then, I took them off the coals and mashed them with the back of a slotted spoon. It will be a coarse mash, and that’s OK.

Then, I strained out all of the garbage out of the stock, and added the smooshed veggies. Then I added in all of the seasonings in the third set of ingredients. Finally, I added in the cream and let it heat and simmer for about another half hour. As it was simmering, I made a slurry of the cornstarch and water, enough to make it very loose and runny (no clumps). I added that in, about a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the bisque. A hint: give some time in between each dose of starch for it to effect the soup, otherwise, you’ll add too much.

Finally, just before serving, I stirred the shrimp meat back into the soup so that it could come back up to serving temperature, and started ladeling out the bowls! It was delicious! I think it would also be great to serve in a bread bowl...

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dutch Oven Curry Mint Chicken

I’m honestly not really sure where the inspiration for this dish came from. My son, in his culinary classes in high school, had to learn how to and practice carving up a chicken (called “fabricating”). He had shown me one way to do this about a year ago, but this time, he’d learned a way with some slight variations. He showed me this new way, and I took pictures along the way, so I’ll probably include all that here in the blog eventually. It’s a very useful skill to have.

So, of course, as he was practicing these skills, we had a bunch of chicken on hand that needed to be used for something, right? Not gonna throw it away, right?

12” shallow Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
16-18 coals above

Whole chicken, cut up or about 3-5 lbs of chicken parts

1 1/2 - 2 cups plain yogurt
1 Tbsp Curry powder
~ 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
~ 1 tsp Salt
a few shakes Chili powder
~1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves


The first step is to prepare the meat.  If you’re cutting up a whole chicken, that would probably take about a half hour. Since the breasts were the largest pieces of the chicken, I cut each one in half, so that it was about the same size as a thigh. Once it was all cut up into pieces, I made sure they were dry, and seasoned each piece with salt and pepper. I set these aside.

If you don’t carve up a whole chicken, you can just use packaged breasts, thighs, or other pieces. You can use frozen chicken pieces, too, but make sure that they’re well-thawed and patted dry. Then season them and set them aside.

The next step was to mix up the baste. I started with the yogurt. Someday, I’d like to try this with greek-style yogurt, because I really like the texture. But this particular week, I didn’t like the price, so I just went with generic plain yogurt. I mixed in the curry powder and stirred that in. Different manufacturers make different curry powders. Some are more yellow, others, more red. Some are hot, some are more mild and zingy. You can adapt to whatever you’ve got as long as you taste along the way. Then, I added the other spices and flavorings, stirring and tasting as I went.

Decide in advance how hot you want to result to be, and shoot for that level with the chili powder. Be cautious with it. Add a little, taste, then add a little more, etc... Be aware that the yogurt will cool the capsaicin a little, so the heat will come on kind of as an after taste.

Finally, be liberal with the mint. That adds a rich coolness to the tang of the yogurt and the spice of the curry and chilli powder.

Then, I went out and lit up the coals.  While they were getting glowy, I chopped up the onions and potatoes into 1” sized chunks and tossed them together into the Dutch oven. They’ll be delicious, and will lift the chicken up out of the juices that will gather at the bottom.

The last step is to layer the chicken pieces over the onions and potatoes, and the thickly slather the yogurt mix over the top of the chicken. Close up the lid, add the coals above and below and begin baking.

I cooked them until they were at an internal temperature of about 175℉. Chicken is actually safe to eat at around 160, but if you cook it longer, it falls off the bone more, and is more done. It won’t dry out in a Dutch oven, because the heavy lid traps the moisture. It took about 40-50 minutes for it to be done. About half-way, I put on more baste.

In the end, it was delicious! The leftovers the next day were even more flavorful, as the herbs absorbed deeper into the yogurt.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Simple Dutch Oven Roast Chicken

Roasting a chicken in a Dutch oven is a very easy thing to do. It looks complex but it’s not. The end result is delicious and an easily feed a family, probably even with a little left over.

I did this a couple of weeks ago, and reminded myself how wonderful and impressive this is.

12” Deep Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
14-16 coals above

1 whole chicken (thawed, if you bought it frozen)

dried parsley
dried rosemary
dried sage
a touch of crushed red pepper

2-3 large potatoes
2-3 medium to large onions.

1 14 oz can green beans (optional)
1 14 oz can whole corn (optional)

First, I got the coals lit, and let them start to get white and hot. Then, I got the chicken ready.  I opened the package and let the chicken drain. I rinsed it off, then padded it dry with paper towels. poked the skin over the breast and the legs with holes so that the juices and flavors could penetrate the meat.

I sprinkled on the seasonings of the second set of ingredients, then drizzled on a little oil. I rubbed that over the surface of the chicken. I don’t list amounts here because I didn’t really pay attention to that as I was sprinkling them over the bird. Just be liberal. Except with the red pepper. Be more cautious there, if you don’t like heat.

If you’re the more precise type of chef, you could mix the spices as a blend first, tasting along the way, to get the exact blend you want.

Then, I cubed up the potatoes and the onions into 1” or 3/4” blocks and tossed them into the bottom of the Dutch oven. This will help flavor the dish, and lift the chicken up above the heat and the juices as it cooks. Plus, the potatoes and onions make great sides to add to your plates.

I put the dutch oven onto the coals, and started cooking. This is a fun kind of cooking, because I sit there and watch the coals burn. All the while, I can tell people, “Don’t bother me, I’m cooking.” Great times. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to stay with it, because you’re going to need to replenish the coals from time to time.

I cooked it for about 2 hours, total. I cooked it to an internal temperature of 175-180. In a traditional indoor oven, cooking it that long will usually dry it out. But in a Dutch oven, the juices are all trapped under the heavy lid. I cook it that long because then not only is the meat done and tender, but it also falls off the bone and the connecting tissue is broken down.

If you want some veggies as a side dish, the easiest way to do that is to drain a can of green beans and a can of corn, mix them together and pour it around the sides of the chicken when there’s only about 15-20 minutes left in the cooking.

An even better option would be to use fresh beans and fresh corn. If you do that, snap the beans, and shuck the corn. You could either cut the corn off the cob, or break the cobs into short lengths. If you use fresh veggies, add them when there’s 30-45 minutes left in the cook time.

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

Dutch Oven Artichoke and Veggie Chicken

My wife and I recently got invited to attend an awards dinner. Unfortunately, we weren’t the ones receiving any awards. Oh, well. Someday, I’ll get to thank the Academy and all the little people that have helped me along the way...


But the dinner was great! It was this delicious chicken breast surrounded by veggies. It had a bit of citrus and acidic twang to it, too. So, I thought I’d give it a try in my Dutch ovens, along with some variations. These mostly come in the form of the various veggies you can add in, depending on what you’ve got.

I decided to serve it all on a bed of brown rice, which was also different from the formal dinner we attended.

12” Dutch oven
24+ coals below for searing stage
10-12 below for baking stage
24-26 above

8” Dutch oven
12+ coals below

6-8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (we buy them frozen in a bag). Make sure these are well-thawed.
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Dried oregano
2-3 medium to large potatoes
1-2 medium to large onions

Vegetables to put on top
1 bottle or can (about 14oz) brined or pickled artichoke hearts
15-20 cherry tomatoes
2-3 stalks celery
2-3 carrots

1-2 lemons

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
a cube of chicken bullion

The first step was to prepare the chicken, which I did while the coals and the Dutch oven were getting hot. I made sure that the chicken was well-thawed, and pat dry with paper towels. One problem with chicken breasts is that the middle is much thicker than the edges, so it’s a little more difficult to regulate the cooking. If I were to do this again, I would pound the chicken a little thinner with one of those meat tenderizer mallets. Not so flat like you do for a cordon bleu or some other kind of roll-up, but just so that it’s not so thick in the middle.  Then I drizzled on some oil, and rubbed in the spices and herbs, onto both sides.

I put a lot (a couple of dozen) of coals underneath my Dutch oven, and I let it get really hot with a little oil drizzled on the bottom.

Once it was hot, I set in 3-4 of the breasts and let them sear a little on each side. Then, I pulled those out, let the Dutch oven heat up again (you might even want to replenish the coals) , and I finished the remaining 3-4 breasts. They should have a little brown and the spice rub should be nicely cooked on. It’s OK if it’s not cooked all the way through, though. We’re going to bake it still.

Then, I set up the Dutch oven with the coals configured for baking (the second set of numbers above). I cubed up the potatoes into large chunks about 3/4” to 1” big. Then I cut up the onions into big 1/8th chunks. By that, I mean, I cut each onion in half, and then each half into quarters. All of these got tossed into the bottom of the Dutch oven and stirred up a bit, to coat with the oil.

On top of that, I layered the browned chicken breasts, and I arranged them so that they were overlapping as little as possible. I put on the lid and put on the coals for baking.

Then I started slicing up the other veggies. They should be sliced thin, on the bias, if possible, so that there isn’t much thickness and they can cook more quickly. I chopped and diced the artichoke hearts coarsely, just to make the bits a little smaller. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half once. Then, I scattered all of these over the chicken breasts. I poured the artichoke brine over the chicken as well, and, after zesting one of the lemons, added the zest and the juice of the lemons as well. I let that cook for about a half hour.

Making the rice is easy, too. I added the rice, the bouillon, salt, and the water to the Dutch oven and set it, with the lid on, on the coals specified. I watched for it to start venting steam out from the side of the lid, showing me that it was boiling. I gave it about another 10-12 minutes before removing it from the coals. Without lifting the lid, I just set it aside to cool down and to finish cooking. I let it go for quite a while, because brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. I had to resist the temptation to lift the lid and check it! I wanted the steam to stay in and cook the rice.

When it was all done, and time to serve, it smelled delicious, and looked great. I spread a bit of rice on the plate, then added the chicken breast and the veggies. I scooped a bit of potato and onion onto the plate, too, then drizzled some of the broth liquid from the bottom of the Dutch oven over the entire entree. It was a great meal!

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dutch Oven Rubbed Roast

Last sunday, as I was contemplating what to cook, I got really tempted by a beef roast we had in the freezer. I wondered how to do it, and my wife suggested that I do the traditional onion soup mix braise. That got me thinking! I looked up the ingredients of the mix, and thought of my own ideas and came up with what would be my roast rub!

It turned out, sadly, that I was way low on veggies, so I ended up only adding in carrots, but it was still delicious and tender!

Dutch Oven Rubbed Roast

12” Dutch oven

20-24 coals below for browning/searing

12 coals below for roasting
12-14 coals above

4-6 lb beef roast

Rub (I don’t include amounts here, because I just sprinkled and scattered the ingredients over the top of the roast, then flipped it and did the same to the bottom)

Dried onion chips
Dried green and red pepper
garlic powder
chili powder
olive oil

Extra veggies in the pot (all optional)

1 cup baby carrots or 2 peeled and sliced carrots
2 - 3 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 medium yellow onions, quartered or sliced
2-3 medium potatoes, cubed


1 heaping Tbsp flour
1/2 cup hot water
lemon juice

The first thing to remember is to start with a fully thawed roast. A couple of days in the fridge, or a few hours under cool water will do the trick. Once it was thawed, I put it on a plate, and sprinkled, grated, and/or tossed the rub ingredients onto it. I was pretty liberal with the garlic powder, the dried onions and peppers, and cautious with the chili powder (it’s homemade, and it’s got a big, bad kick). I drizzled on the olive oil, and rubbed it into the surface of the meat. Then, I flipped it over and did the same to the other side.

I let that sit, covered with plastic, on the counter while I got the coals and the Dutch oven ready. That allowed the seasonings to absorb more fully into the meat, especially the salt (which also tenderizes).

While that was getting more and more flavorful, I got some coals lit, and then put a lot of coals under my 12” with a bit of olive oil in the bottom. I let that sit and heat up.  A lot.

Finally, I could tell that it was really hot, and I put the meat on the bottom of the open Dutch oven. Immediately, it started sizzling, showing me that my waiting was worth it!

After a few minutes, I turned it over and I could see the sear on the meat and the blackening of the spice rub. The smell was wonderful!  By the way, searing the meat does not “seal in the juices”. It triggers what’s called “The Maillard Reaction”, browning the surface of the meat and giving it that sweet-ish tangy tones that we love so much!

Once the second side was seared, I re-arranged the coals for roasting (I also replenished a bit, since they were starting to diminish). Every 20-25 minutes or so, I would take coals from my chimney and replenish them under my Dutch oven and on the lid. Then, I’d add more fresh ones to the chimney to start. I think, in the end, I cooked it about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When I was about an hour away from serving, I started getting the veggies ready. In this case, that just involved checking the fridge to see what was available, and opening up a bag of baby carrots into the Dutch oven. If I’d had potatoes, onions, or anything else, I would have cut them up and added them to the Dutch oven, around the meat.

Finally, it was done. I brought it in and removed the meat and veggies to a serving plate. Then, I took the gravy ingredients and the Dutch oven back out to the coals. First, I dribbled in some lemon juice (maybe 2 Tbsp, maybe more), and used that acid with the heat to scrape up all of that yummy brown fond that the meat had left on the bottom. Then, I whisked together the water and the flour (so there are no clumps), and slowly whisked that into the liquid in the Dutch oven. It heated and boiled, and became a wonderful gravy.

The meat was tender and flavorful, the veggies were perfect, and the gravy livened them all up and tied them all together. It was a delicious meal.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dutch Oven Bean and Cocoa Pie

While I was working on my upcoming book, which is all about cooking with food storage ingredients, I came across this idea of using beans as the substance for a custard pie. The thought struck me so oddly. “A bean pie? What on earth are they thinking?”

But then, I thought about the recipe that I’d heard of using mashed dark beans in brownies to lessen the oil content. My wife had made them a long time ago, and they were delicious. The “beaniness” didn’t come through, and it had a very smooth feeling on my palate.

So, why not in a pie?

I mean, really, it’s the same idea for a pumpkin pie.  You make a custard with eggs and sugar and use pumpkin puree for the texture. You just use different spices, right? So, I decided to give it a try.

But, as I was making it, I was careful not to tell my family what I was doing. If it flopped, I wanted to preserve plausible deniability!

10” Dutch oven

8-10 coals below
12-14 coals above

For the Crust, see:

The Filling:

2 heaping cup mashed, cooked beans

2½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
2 Tbsp cocoa powder

mint leaves for garnish

I tackled this pie in three steps:  First, the beans, second, the crust, and finally, the rest of the filling.

There are a few ways you could approach the beans. One is to just bust open a couple of cans of refried beans (neutral ones, without any additional flavorings, like garlic, etc...). Another approach would be to open up a couple of cans of beans. If you do this, I would recommend using a couple of different kinds, just to make for a more complete protein.

The third approach is what I did, because, of course, I like more work. Duh. I mixed a half bag of dried black beans and a half bag of dried kidney beans into a bowl with a lot of water and let them soak overnight. Then, using the same 10” Dutch oven, and about 15 coals underneath, I simmered the beans until they were very soft (that took about a couple of hours).

In any case, once you’ve got some soft beans, you have to mash them. I tried this interesting device that looks like a saucepan with a smashing wedge on the inside attached to a crank. It didn’t work. Maybe the holes on the bottom were too small, but it just didn’t do it. So, I pulled all the beans back out, and used a potato masher. If you do this, use one with a flat surface and holes instead of one with wavy heavy wire. It will mash better. You could use a slotted spoon, too.

Or, of course, you could use a blender. But, who wants to do that? That’s too easy!

Then, I made the pie crust in the 10” Dutch oven according to the instructions on that other page, listed above. I didn’t parbake it this time, but next time I probably will.

So, at this point, I had the pie crust ready, the beans smooshed and ready, and some coals were lit and heating up. It was time to make pie!

I started by smooshing the sugar, the molasses, and the butter together, creaming them up.  If you want to, you can just use brown sugar, but I like adding my own molasses, because I can make it darker and richer if I want to. I creamed them all together until it started to get a bit fluffy, as tiny air bubbles started to incorporate into the mixture.

I added the eggs and blended that in as well as the other flavorings. Finally, I folded in the beans. Once they were folded in, I stirred it all pretty aggressively to make sure that it was all incorporated.

I poured the mix into the waiting pie crust in the 10” Dutch oven, and set it on the coals. I baked it, covered, for about 45 minutes or so. I’ve found that I don’t trust the toothpick method when testing the doneness of pies. It works OK for cakes, but there have been times when the toothpick has come up clean and it’s still runny in the middle. I look for jiggle and touch for resistance instead of toothpicking. Make sure, also, that you turn the Dutch oven and rotate the lid every 15 minutes or so of baking, so you don’t have hot spots burning parts of your pie. Also, with a long cook time like that, you’ll want to have a side fire going so you can replenish your coals as needed.

When it was all done, I took it off the coals, and let it cool with the lid off. I like to serve it right out of the Dutch, but if you’re going to lift it, make sure that it has cooled, so the crust is fully set.

I was really pleasantly surprised with the flavor of the pie. My wife said she was amazed, and my kids liked it, too. Who knew beans could be dessert?

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

Dutch Oven Pecan Date Pie

I’ve always loved pecan pie, but I’ve never made it, and I had no idea how. But then, I figured, I’d just do what I always do, that being to look up some recipes and blend the coolest ideas into one.  I also talked with my dear sister, who gave me some really good ideas as well. Her biggest idea was to add the dates. She said that it gives some substance to the custard, even though they essentially dissolve in the cooking process.

She also suggested I try the dark syrup, rather than the light.

Both ideas were spot on, and turned into the best pecan pie I think I have ever eaten.

I also learned from one big mistake: Don’t buy pecans in the shell. I like to cook from scratch as much as possible, and sometimes that leads me to do some pretty stupid things. Like staying up past 12:30 am shelling enough pecans to make a pie the night before. Not only was I exhausted, but my fingers were cramped. Don’t be like me. Buy them shelled. Your hands will thank you.

10” Dutch Oven

8-10 coals below
14-16 coals above


1 1/4 c Shortening
3 c Flour
1 Tbsp Vinegar
5 Tbsp Water
1 egg

1/2 lbs dried beans to weigh down the crust while parbaking


1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (or about half the orange)
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/2-1 cup pitted and dried dates, coarsely chopped
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)

For the process of making the pie crust, I’ll refer you to the previous post, at , to follow. I would strongly recommend doing the parbaking. I did it this time, and it made a big difference, because the crust didn’t soak up so much of the liquid of the filling. It was much more flaky.

Then, I melted the butter over the coals left after the parbaking of the crust. I added the brown sugar and I whisked it all together until it was melted and smooth. Then, I took that off the heat and added in the corn syrup, stirring as I went. I then added in the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs, the dates, and the pecan halves.

The filling mixture was still quite hot at this point, so I was nervous about dumping the eggs right in and having them curdle or scramble right away. So, I decided to temper them. I broke them into a separate bowl and whisked them to break them up and blend them smooth. Then, while whisking with one hand, I added tablespoonfuls of the mixture to the eggs with the other. The idea is to bring the temperature of the eggs up gradually, so they don’t cook right away. Finally, tablespoon after tablespoon, it felt like they were warm and I poured the whole thing back into the mix.

Then, I added the dates and the pecans.

Finally, all of that was poured into the crust that was still in the 10” Dutch oven.

I put the lid on, and set it on fresh coals, as indicated above, and baked it for about an hour, or until it was clear that the filling was set to the center.  I let it cool. completely.

This time, I chose to serve it from the Dutch, rather than try to lift it out. The crust, however, was quite durable and probably would have easily survived the lift. The whole pie was incredible, especially with whipped topping! My sister was definitely right about the dates.

More pies to come!

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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