_Is It Done Yet?

Serves: 5



An all too familiar phrase to cooks, especially if there are kids around. In camp where appetites may border on the ravenous, it may be next on the list of most asked questions in the kitchen after, “What’s for dinner?” Nearly every recipe I’ve ever looked at gave specific directions for temperature and length of time to cook.

In the ideal kitchen environment such directions are usually in the ball park. I’ve not yet rode into a camp equipped with all the latest kitchen technology plugged into a currant bush. For instance, if your favorite cornbread recipe calls for the batter to be baked in a 400 degree oven for twenty-five minutes or until golden brown, that’s pretty easy. One simply has to turn on the oven light and look for the “golden brown” or stick one’s trusty tooth pick into the center to see if it comes out clean.

In camp though, there are some other variables to consider, baking the same corn bread in a Dutch oven is different. If cooking a roast or stew it doesn’t hurt to take the lid off and check on the progress. When baking in a Dutch oven, however, you don’t want to do that. Each time you remove the lid, heat escapes. As a result, whatever you’re baking won’t brown. The charcoal and/or wood coals used can’t recover the high temperatures quickly enough for browning to occur.

So, how do you know when something is done when you can’t look at it? For dutch oven baking I use a simple smell test. If it smells done, it’s done if it smells burnt, it’s burnt and if you can’t smell it, it’s not done or burned. Besides trusting your nose, pay attention to the time. If following a recipe, plan on the time called for, plus a few minutes longer in most cases.

A Back Country Guide to Outdoor Cooking Spiced with Tall Tales - Camp Cooking with Dutch Ovens

This _Is It Done Yet? recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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