Cooking in a Dutch Oven Over Coal

Three methods for Cooking

There are 3 cooking methods using a Dutch oven over coals. When hard wood is available it can be used to place coals on the lid and under the pot. The same method can be used with briquettes by placing the correct number of coals above and below the pot to achieve the correct temperature. This method is the best for home use. You can use your barbeque or fire ring to contain the hot coals and ash.  The third method of cooking with a Dutch oven over coals is hanging the pot over the coals. This is done with a pot hanging device with hooks of different lengths. The Dutch oven is hung over the coals using the hooks. This method makes it easier to control the temperature but does require more attention to the fire by the “chuck” {a name given to the chuck wagon cook}.

Preparing the Fire for Dutch Oven Cooking

Many outdoor areas have firewood available. Most wood is good for cooking with your Dutch oven over coals if it holds up in a bank of hot coals for some time. Pick wood that is hard and burns slow and hot. If the fire material burns quickly and disappears in ash almost immediately, it will not work for Dutch oven cooking. You have to prepare a fire large enough to burn down into coals enough to cover the top of the oven as well as underneath. Half burned and burning material smokes, is difficult to handle and does not have the sustained heat needed for cooking. Use a long handled shovel for handling the coals. When a hot bank of coals is ready, spread a layer on the ground and set the oven onto it, then shovel a layer of coals over the oven. The layers of coals can be too hot, only experience will help you to decide the temperature of the coals. I find it is harder to control and judge the heat when cooking with a Dutch oven over coals made from wood than it is when cooking with briquettes.

Using Briquettes for Dutch Oven Cooking

Plan on 10 briquettes for the top of a number ten Dutch oven (8 for #8 or 12 for #12). Plan on a few more for the bottom to make a good level layer underneath oven and 2-3 inches beyond the outer edge of oven. See temperature chart. Place briquettes in a pile; light, or use a briquette starter (a cylinder with air holes and a handle, coals are placed on top with paper to light on bottom. When briquettes are hot and grey in color, place oven in position with briquettes on top and bottom. If you plan on being away for a longer length of time. Place a few additional cold coals touching hot coals just prior  o your departure for additional cooking time. I also recommend good quality coals. This is no area to skimp on price and quality. I find Kingsford brand to hold the temperature the best and burns the longest to provide you with consistent long lasting heat and giving you the best conditions for your Dutch oven cooking over coals.