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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dutch ovens: Outdoor or Indoor?

Someone posted a question online, about a dutch oven she received as a gift.

She didn't know if she could use it indoors, or outdoors only.

It depends on what kind. Pictured above is an outdoor dutch oven, also called a "camp oven." It has 3 legs for placing over hot coals, as well as a flat lid with a lip, for placing coals on top. It also has a wire handle, called a "bail handle", for hanging over a campfire.

This type MIGHT be possible for indoor use, but not practical; the legs would make it awkward on an electric stove, as well as on the oven rack.

The other type of dutch oven looks just like a normal pot, and is absolutely suitable for indoor use, both oven and stovetop.

Usually instead of a wire bail handle, They have side loop handles.

On the contrary, if it's an enameled dutch oven, it should not be used outdoors. If it's any color besides grey or black, then it's enameled.

As a general rule, you put 2/3 of the coals on top, 1/3 on bottom, unless you're deep frying or broiling.

If you're deep frying or boiling, they all go on bottom, and when broiling, they all go on top.

You can stack camp ovens to cook multiple dishes with the same coals, and you can flip the flat lid to use as a griddle.

You adjust the number of coals to adjust the cooking temperature. Some dutch oven cookbooks state the amount of coals you need for the recipe.

For an 8 inch camp oven, 15 coals = 325 degrees, + 25 for each additional coal.

For a 10 inch, 19 coals = 325 degrees + 25 for each additional 2 coals.

For a 12 inch, 23 coals = 325 degrees + 25 for each additional 2 coals.

For a 14 inch, 30 coals = 325 degrees + 25 for each additional 2 coals.

Check out my article which includes a chart and calculator.

I don't have a camp oven, but intend to get one in order to learn how to use one.

I'm considering the Camp Chef ultimate dutch oven, which features a top and bottom rack that greatly expands its usefulness, and a center convection cone for faster cooking.

Supposedly you don't need top heat for the ultimate dutch oven due to the convection cone, except for baking. I can't test that theory until I get one.

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