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Dutch Oven Beef Stew

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Learn how to make a tasty beef stew in a Dutch oven when you are out camping or in your own back yard.
 
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Step 1: Assemble Ingredients and Equipment

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If you don't already have a Dutch oven, be sure to choose one that has legs to hold it up above the coals and a tight fitting lid with a raised rim. You will also need:

-A seasoned Dutch oven--this recipe is for a 10" oven
-A very heavy oven mitt, welder's glove or hook for moving the oven and lid
-Tongs for moving the coals - Don't use the same tongs to handle food!
-A suitable location as covered in the next step
-Self-igniting charcoal
-Knife, Cutting Board, Large Spoon, you know--the usual stew making implements

Ingredients:

-Canola or Corn Oil, Enough to thickly coat bottom of Dutch Oven
-1 Lb. Stew Meat, Cubed
-1 Yellow Onion, Diced
-1 Green Bell Pepper, Cut into 1" Pieces
-3 Medium Carrots, Cut into 1" Pieces
-4 Ribs of Celery, Cut into 1" Pieces
-1/2 Lb. Fingerling Potatoes, Cut into (you guessed it!) 1" Pieces
-1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
-Vegetable Bouillon Cube
-1/2 Cup Red Wine
-1/2 Cup Water
-Salt and Pepper

This recipe serves 2-4 depending on side dishes and how ravenous you may be. This stew takes 2-3 hours to cook once you've plunked the lid on so be sure allow enough time, including prepping your ingredients.

Step 2: Choose a Spot

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02 Draw Circle.jpg
Once your ingredients are assembled and prepared, you'll need to choose a spot to do the actual cooking. Find an area that is flat, bare ground away from combustible materials. Set your oven on the ground and trace a circle around it to mark the spot and show how much space you have to lay the coals.

Step 3: Light Coals

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Pile your coals in a separate spot or use a chimney starter. Light the coals and let them burn until they are mostly covered with gray ash. For my 10" oven I used sixteen coals. After about an hour and a half of cooking you'll need to replace the coals so make sure you have another sixteen on hand. Since you are cooking on the ground be sure to keep a close eye on children and pets!

Step 4: Arrange Coals

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When the coals are ready, arrange a dozen of them inside the circle on the ground. Space them evenly with a little room between for air to circulate.

Step 5: Place the Dutch Oven

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Place your Dutch oven over the coals. You might have to wiggle it a bit to fit the legs around the coals and get them firmly on the ground. Ideally it should be above the coals and not sitting directly on them, but it won't hurt if it is. Dutch ovens and their lids are heavy so always be sure you have a firm footing and a good, heatproof grip when lifting them!

Step 6: Start Cooking!

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Now the fun really begins! Once the oven has heated up for a couple of minutes, add the cooking oil. You'll know it's hot enough when the surface of the oil is shimmering.

Step 7: Brown Meat

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Carefully add the meat to the oven. Stir it around periodically for a minute or two until it's nicely browned on all sides.

Step 8: Add Onions

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When the meat is browned, add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened.

Step 9: Add Rest of Ingredients

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Dump the rest of the vegetables into the oven and stir. Add the parsley, wine, water and bouillon cube, season with some salt and fresh pepper and stir again.

Step 10: Cover Oven and Stew the Stew

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Place the lid on the oven. Were you wondering why we lit 16 coals but only put down twelve? It's because four go on the cover. Arrange them equally around the edge. This is the cool thing about Dutch oven cooking. Heat is applied from the bottom and the top, sort of like your kitchen oven. But, because there are coals on the top, you'll need to be very careful to lift the cover straight up when checking on the stew. Don't let ashes fall in or all your work may be wasted.

Every twenty minutes lift the whole oven by the handle and give it a quarter turn to compensate for any uneven heating. After you turn the pot, gently rotate the lid a quarter turn in the opposite direction.

Start checking the coals after an hour or so and when they are getting to where they are mostly burned up, light your second batch. When they are ready, carefully move the oven aside, knock down the ashes from the first batch, and arrange them as before.

Cook the stew until the vegetables are done. Set the cover aside someplace safe and serve.

This recipe is very flexible as far as the ingredients you use so feel free to adjust it as you wish or adapt your own favorite stew recipe to the technique. Cooking in a Dutch oven is something of an adventure so if you have to have precisely controlled conditions to cook it may not be for you. Yet, with some practice and attention to what you're doing, it's a fun way to make a special and memorable meal for family or friends.
Angel.nam4 years ago
South Africa we call it a potjie and we use wood and our pots come with three legs. It's the best meal ever. Thanks to the Dutch for bring the pots to SA. Check it out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potjiekos
RCMadMatt5 years ago
Used this Instructable this past weekend, and it is great! Very delicious, and fun to make! Gonna make it again soon!
ShadyCharacter (author)  RCMadMatt5 years ago
I'm so glad to hear that!
jamalk5 years ago
do i have to add wine because my family is kinda hate wine, so can i skip the wine section or there's substitute for wine?
ShadyCharacter (author)  jamalk5 years ago
Yes, you can substitute beef broth or tomato juice for the wine.
Mandrew5 years ago
It is indeed called a Dutch oven because the Dutch pioneered the sand casting techniques involved in making high quality cast iron.
merijnvw5 years ago
Hi. What is 'Dutch' about this oven? I'm Dutch and I never heard of oven that were typically Dutch. By the way, you documented the steps well.
Tofu merijnvw5 years ago
I believe Alton Brown covers the origins of the name "Dutch Oven" in one of his episodes of "Good Eats". Could possibly be in the "Going Dutch" episode but I can't remember for sure. http://www.foodnetwork.com/good-eats/going-dutch/index.html
ShadyCharacter (author)  merijnvw5 years ago
I'm not sure what the real reason is. The first one I heard was that the Dutch innovated the sand casting method used to make cast iron cookware. Other ones were that Dutch setters in America used them a lot. The truth may never be known, but I'd be proud to share a name with such a useful pot ;)
I have no idea why it's called a dutch oven, but it's just called that
seamster5 years ago
Very nice and well done. I like the photo in step six--you can actually see the oil shimmering!
thierry.kok5 years ago
ik heb dit dus nog nooit gehad xD
lemonie5 years ago
Did that stew OK sat on just 11 briquettes? L
ShadyCharacter (author)  lemonie5 years ago
Yes, it did. The coals give out a remarkable amount of heat and when they're so close to the pot, the cast iron diffuses it and distributes it very well.
I'll remember that then (have a bag of the things) L
ShadyCharacter (author)  lemonie5 years ago
To follow up a little more on this: Do a search on the internet and you'll find various sites that give the numbers of coals for maintaining different temperatures in different sized Dutch ovens as well as the proportion to put on the top and bottom.
OK, thanks again. L
slimguy3795 years ago
LOL any body understand the slang definition of "dutch oven" is?
Heh, exactly what I thought when I read the title. Perhaps some Urban Dictionary research required by the author on this one...