Dutch oven cooking is easy, but a lot of people worry too much about technique, coal counting and overhead costs. Not only can it be easy, it can also be cheap. I love Dutch oven cooking so much, I fire up the charcoal and cook in my ovens every weekend. You can read about my adventures on by blog, the Back Porch Gourmet. Getting started is easy, and this instructable will teach you how to make my favorite food-- Curry!
Step 1: You Will Need
To do Dutch oven cooking in general, you will need a few tools. I recommend the following list for beginners:
12" Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven (read my squidoo lens on seasoning cast iron)
Long Handled metal tongs (for moving charcoal)
Lid Lifter (Claw hammer works really well)
Heat Resistant gloves
Something to put the oven on- When I started I used tinfoil, then a $1 pizza pan. I now use the Volcano cooker.
Flat edged wooden spoon with the longest handle you can find.
Some nice extras:
Waist height table
Propane burner stove
Step 2: Ingredients
1 can Coconut Milk
Bell Pepper, Sliced
Garlic Chili Sauce
Step 3: Light the Fire
Fill the chimney half full of charcoal-- as a general rule, I fill the chimney half full if I am cooking one dish, and all the way for up to three. Soak the coals with a little lighter fluid and throw in a match. Go inside and prepare the food.
The coals will be ready when embers glow and little flames stick in between the charcoal. The fire will go out, so don't worry; it is still working. Now and then you will see smoke rising from the chimney, and as they say, "Where there's smoke, there's fire".
Step 4: Soak the Noodles
Pull the noodles out of the package, 1/2 for 4 servings, all of it for 8. Get your tap water running very hot, and fill a bowl with water. Submerge the noodles and fannagle them until they are completely immersed. If they are not all submerged, they will not cook evenly.
Rice noodles are made from rice flour, which is essentially ground up rice. Merely soaking the noodles in hot water softens them and they are edible. I love working with these noodles.
Step 5: Cut the Meat and Vegetables
Cut the chicken into thin strips across the grain. If you are using chicken breasts, this is generally across the smallest point. Using a different knife and cutting board, slice the bell pepper. If you are cooking for 4, cut one of each; up to 8, cut two. If your mushrooms are not presliced, slice them.
By now, the coals should be ready. Take your ingredients in bowls outside.
Step 6: Prepare the Dutch Oven
Using the tongs, move the charcoal to the cooking surface, whether it be a $1 cookie sheet, or the fanciest Dutch oven table. It doesn't really matter. Spread out the coals evenly, and hold your hand above looking for hotspots. Adjust charcoal accordingly.
For this meal, I started with 12, but ended up using 15. If you don't have the shielding that the volcano offers, use a few more. For baking at 350 degrees, a good rule of thumb is to take the diameter (often printed on the lid) and add 3 to that number. That is how many to stack on top. Subtract 3 from the diameter, and that is how many to add to the bottom.
Place the Dutch oven on the coals and add some oil. It doesn't have to be too much-- I used about a quarter cup and it worked great. Let the oil heat up. To tell when it is ready, flick some clean water from your fingers into the oven. If it sizzles and sputters, you are ready.
Step 7: Add the Meat and Spices
Add the chicken strips and shake in the spices. I don't have amounts, but be generous. You can spice it as spicy as you like. When I added the coconut milk in step 9, I opened the wrong end of the curry and added a lot. It still tasted good. Be generous with the spices, the coconut milk will calm them down.
Stir the chicken until cooked completely with the flat edged spoon. The flat edge allows you to scrape the bottom, keeping things from burning.
Step 8: Add the Vegetables
Add the vegetables-- peppers and mushrooms. We want them to cook, but still keep some crispness. You'll know they are done when they just start to turn clear. Stir often with the spoon.
Step 9: Add the Noodles and Coconut Milk
Add the soaked noodles and coconut milk. Stir it in, adding any additional spices. If you want it spicy, add a little garlic chili sauce or sriracha sauce at this point. Boil for only a few minutes, just to heat up the noodles.
Step 10: Enjoy!
Plate it up and offer your guests some garnish-- Asian hot sauces, soy sauce, limes and cilantro.
To clean up, scrape any remaining food preferably when the oven is still hot, and wash out any food with water. DO NOT USE SOAP! Soap will decay the protective patina. Wipe clean and store with a paper towel in the oven, with the lid propped open a little. If you're concerned about germs, you can heat up the iron to kill any bacteria and add a little oil with a basting brush. Don't add a big coat of oil, and don't add any if you are not heating the iron. Leaving a coating of oil on the cast iron will just go rancid, and make a sticky goo that will be hard to remove.
Dispose of the fire safely, dropping coals into a bucket of water is not only safe, it's pretty cool to watch. They float until they go out an then they sink. They really sizzle!
For more adventures in outdoor cooking, visit my blog, the Back Porch Gourmet.