What is the Best Heat Source for a Dutch Oven?
Cooking with a Dutch oven can be fun as well as provide a whole new flavor to your favorite foods. Whether at home or gone camping the use of Dutch ovens for cooking family meals has become more and more popular in recent years. When you first get your Dutch oven you may wonder what the best way to use and cook in it is, as well as what is the best heat source. Here are some of the common sources of heat when cooking in a Dutch oven and the pros and cons of each:
When cooking in your Dutch oven at home you don’t have to be outdoors. Dutch ovens can be used for cooking right inside your traditional oven. The biggest advantage of using your traditional oven includes the ease of keeping a constant temperature. Simply turn the oven on to the desired temperature and use the Dutch oven instead of another cooking pan. While it is easy to maintain the temperature of your Dutch oven in a traditional oven, it often doesn’t give the same feeling of having cooked out or cooked differently. When cooking in a traditional oven you may also want to choose enameled Dutch ovens that are only used indoors to avoid the soot and charcoal residue left on one used outdoors.
Cooking over an open fire was the first way that a Dutch oven was used, and continues to be a great heat source when using one. Simply putting your ingredients into the Dutch oven and then placing the Dutch oven directly over the fire flames or hanging from a tripod will allow the Dutch oven to get hot and cook the food inside. The advantages of this form of cooking are that you can quickly begin cooking as soon as the fire is going. The disadvantage to this heat source is that it is very hard to control a consistent temperature. The Dutch oven will quickly get hot on the bottom and could even burn or scorch foods inside.
For a little better control you can wait until the fire burns down to coals and then use the coals on both the top and the bottom of the Dutch oven for more consistent cooking. While the advantages of coals offer heat from both the top and the bottom of the Dutch oven it is still hard to control the temperature reached inside. You may need to repeatedly check on the food inside the Dutch oven to ensure even cooking and to avoid burning.
The best suggested heat source when cooking with a Dutch oven outdoors is the use of charcoal briquettes. Charcoal briquettes are easy to use and offer the advantages of cooking from the top and the bottom consistently. The disadvantage you have when using charcoal briquettes is the time you need to wait for them to get to optimum cooking temperature. The advantages include ease of use, even temperature control, and a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. Most Dutch ovens used when camping are used with charcoal briquettes as the heat source.
Cooking with a Dutch oven can add new flavors at home and allow you to cook a wider variety of meals when camping. As you use your Dutch oven more and more you will find the perfect heat source for the meals you enjoy cooking the most.