A dutch oven is one of the most traditional camp cooking tools you can get. People have been using these heavy pots to prepare meals in the back country for hundreds of years. They are incredibly versatile, durable and when you're cooking with one, especially while camping, it adds an element of traditionalism that is often missing when using the more modern cooking tools.
My mum bought one last fall and while I thought it was pretty cool, I kept thinking it was a lot of work to keep it conditioned, and with my luck, I'd screw it up and ruin it. They also are heavy and take up a fair bit of space. There's no way I'd want to haul 20 lbs of cast iron over portages either, so really, would I use one if I got one? But after having lasagna in it while camping at Canisbay Lake in Algonquin, the temptation grew.
Then, while planning our yearly camping trip to Pog Lake with our friends, and trying to sort out who would bring what to the potluck dinner, I realized this would be perfect. Everyone else was bringing salads, but no entree type dish, so I talked Chris into getting one.
Want to decide if a dutch oven is a good choice for you?
- Do you do a fair bit of car camping and have room for another piece of gear?
- Are you patient about cooking your meals? It can take a while to cook, just like in your oven at home
- Do you like to be creative with your food while camping, and want to add a whole new range of possible meals to your camp menus?
If you answered yes, then give it a try. A cast iron dutch oven will last a life time, and beyond (I know some that are serving a third generation) if you care for it properly and despite my initial fears, it's not that difficult to do.
The same goes for the cast iron frying pan. They are heavy, true, but do a much better job than the cheap non-stick frying pans we'd been using.
I made a lasagna on that trip and it turned out really well. Before I could use it again, the lack of rain brought on the inevitable fire ban, so I haven't had another chance to use it, but tonight, I'm going to try my hand at roasting a chicken. We aren't camping. I'll just be sitting in the driveway, probably making the neighbors wonder what the heck I'm doing.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share links to some of the dutch oven books I've found especially full of yummy ideas.
The Wilderness Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking - This book is my favorite. It's got a lot of really tasty looking meals, and actually uses more than just a 12" dutch oven. I've found that's pretty rare. Most books don't provide recipes for smaller ovens, or the biggest ones.
101 Things to do with a Dutch Oven - Lots of easy recipes, mostly for 12" ovens with a few 10" ones as well. It's also small and easy to pack for easy reference.