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Volume II
June 25, 2005

Dutch Oven to Conventional Oven

Hello Dan,

Thank you for this months newsletter. I love my cast iron so I was excited to see that it was about Dutch Ovens. I have one that I inherited from my grandmother but I don't use it often, mostly for lack of know how. I was surprised to see that I had been taking care of my cast iron all wrong, no more soap for them!

The recipes in the newsletter all sound delicious but they are all geared towards the camper. Unfortunately we don't do much camping, so in your upcoming cd, will there be equivalent directions for cooking on a home stove top or oven or even a gas or charcoal grill? Is there a way that you can amend the recipes in the newsletter so that they may be made in the home? I realize that the flavor just won't be the same, but it would be nice to get some good use from my cast iron.

Thank you for your time,

Diane Piasta

Have been catching up on e-mail reading and liked the Dutch Oven Cooking recipes.  Have a Dutch oven but my husband no longer is able to go camping, so is it possible to use the recipes in a regular oven?  If so, what temperature, etc.?  Thanks for the help.  Love your newsletters.

 -- Barb Quinlan

Hi Barb and Diane,

Most recipes start out as conventional oven recipes and then get converted to Dutch oven cooking.  So, yes, I think you could pretty much cook every Dutch Oven recipe in the home kitchen. 

Your best guide for this will be cookbooks.  If you see a cake recipe you'd like to try, look in your cookbooks to see what temperature a similar recipe is baked at and for how long.  It will be easier to bake in your oven because you'll be able to regulate the temperature.  Likewise, for roasting meats, you can pop the ingredients into the slow-cooker or roast it in the oven, as you normally would. 

On these specific recipes from the newsletter, here's some suggestions for cooking:

Dutch Oven Breakfast:  Just go ahead and cook this in a skillet on the range, following the instructions, and cooking just like you would eggs.  Cover and boil out any excess water if too juicy.

Peach Cobbler:  Conventional oven - Same procedure - Bake at 350 degrees in glass or clay - covered for 15 minutes - remove cover for last 5 minutes.

Groovie Smoothie:  Follow instructions, only use a greased 9x13" pan.  pour "mud" mixture over batter.  Bake at 350 F. for  about 45 minutes.  Sprinkle on chocolate chips and pecans, and melt for 3-5 minutes more in oven.

Fresh Corn Salad:  This recipe is a great candidate for the slow-cooker. Just dump in ingredients and cook for 8-10 hours on low, skipping the stirring parts.  You could bake them in the oven, as well, at 350 F. for 3-3/12 hours covered, and then 30-60 minutes uncovered, or until juice is absorbed and beans are tender.  Stir periodically.

Barbeque Marinated Flank Steak:  another great candidate for the slow cooker.  Just brown roast, add remaining ingreds and cook on low 8-10 hours.  Or, braise in liquid atop the range for the time given, adding vegetables during the final hour of cooking.  Cook for 25-30 minutes per pound.

Fabulous Fruit Salad:  Follow instructions, only roll dough onto a greased baking sheet.  Spread on topping and bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Below I've pasted some article tidbits from sources on the web.  You'll have to think "backwards" to convert other Dutch Oven recipes you come across, but it may help you learn how to swap back and forth between the Dutch Oven  and the stove.

Hope this helps,

Desi @ DVO

The instructions here are for Open Fire cooking with a DO. When using a DO on the woodstove or indoor stove and oven, it is used just like any other cast iron pan. It is slow to heat up, retains its heat for a long time and works best when used at lower temperatures except when frying.

You could buy a DO with a flat bottom, but these pans are best left to the conventional or wood stove top. The flat surface of the bottom will not allow heat from the fire to evenly absorb into the iron, you won't be able to get the coals up under it, and it will not provide an even cooking for your foods. Look for a DO with legs, and remember that 3 legs are more stable than 4 legs. 

How do you control the heat in a Dutch Oven? There are several ways to test the temperature of your Dutch Oven. One is to just lift the lid. If the food is cooking to slowly, add more charcoal. If it's cooking too fast remove a few. Remember, it's much easier to raise the temperature of cast iron than to lower it.

Here is another way to check the temperature:

1. Place a teaspoonful of flour in a small pie pan and put the pan inside a hot Dutch Oven.

2. Place the lid on the oven and leave it for 5 minutes.

3. If the flour has not turned brown the oven is less than 300 degrees.

4. If the flour is light brown, the oven is about 350 degrees.

5. If the flour is dark brown, the oven is about 450 degrees. Note: If the flour is dark brown after 3 minutes, reduce the heat, the oven is too hot to cook with.

The way I cook and work with temperature, is by using what some, call the 2-3 briquette rule. Using this rule, you take the size of the oven and place that amount of briquettes on the lid and place that amount under the oven.

Then take 2-3 briquettes from the bottom and move them to the top. This technique will maintain a temperature of 325 to 350 degrees. Refer to the table below for common oven sizes. For every 2 briquettes added or subtracted to/from this the net change is about 25 degrees.

These temperature changes are for the Rocky Mountain area, where the cooking altitude is about 4000-6000 ft. If you live in a lower or higher area, check these settings with an oven thermometer to make sure they are OK. Temperatures inside a Dutch Oven are effected by altitude.

When cooking try and get in the habit of rotating your oven a third of a turn every ten to fifteen minutes, and rotate the lid a third of a turn the other direction. If you are baking bread, rolls, or cakes remove the bottom heat after two thirds of the cooking time. It will finish cooking from the top heat, keep it from burning on the bottom and help brown what your are baking.

Use this chart as a starting point and adjust from there!

Oven size

Briquettes on top

Briquettes on bottom


8 - 10

6 - 8


10 - 12

8 - 10


12 - 14

10 - 12


14 - 16

12 - 14


16 - 18


What can be cooked in a Dutch Oven? Well, this is really an easy question to answer. Anything that can be cooked in your kitchen at home can be cooked in a Dutch Oven. And, food cooked in a Dutch Oven will taste much better. This is the "Magic" of Dutch Oven Cooking.



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