Dutch Oven Biscuits and Gravy

Be sure to watch your biscuits! Everyone is going to want a taste of this hearty and delicious dutch oven breakfast.

“Time camping isn’t spent, it is invested.”

When I first bought a dutch oven I had one thing in mind: biscuits and gravy.  Biscuit and gravy is the most cliché dutch oven meal you can make, but it is the definition of dutch oven cooking.  Biscuits and gravy (or B&G as it is more affectionately known as) is a quick, simple, easy clean-up, hearty meal, which is what dutch oven cooking is all about.  A good dutch oven meal tastes like a home cooked meal served next to a campfire on a paper plate.  B&G fulfills this role perfectly, as nothing tastes more home cooked than creamy sausage gravy from scratch piled over warm, oven cooked golden biscuits.

The hardest part of making dutch oven B&G is the preparing the dutch oven (and trust me, this part isn’t difficult!)

For this recipe, it is easiest to have two dutch ovens.  You can do it in a single one, but the bottoms of your biscuits will most likely be soggy. So, I am going to go through the recipe for two ovens, but know you could accomplish this task in a single one.

When cooking with a dutch oven, there are a few different options for a heat source: charcoal, wood, and gas.  I tend to go with charcoal because it creates a nice even heat when cooking, is easy to prepare, and easy for clean-up.  Wood is a great option as you usually don’t have to purchase extra materials since wood is all around you while camping!  A main disadvantage is that wood creates uneven heat, so you have to be a little more meticulous while you cook.  Finally, gas is as easy option if you have a propane stove with you to just set the oven on, but I actually take a dutch oven to replace the whole concept of carrying around a stove.  Anyway, all three options will work and have pros and cons, it really is all about personal preference.


To heat up my charcoal briquettes, I use a chimney.  This is the easiest way I have found to light and burn down the charcoal.  Chimneys are a relatively cheap investment, here is a link for a few different options: Charcoal Chimney. To light the briquettes, simply place the chimney over a few pieces of newspaper or other paper source, add the charcoal to the top of the chimney, and light the paper on the bottom.  The paper should flame up and then the chimney should start to smoke.  It takes about fifteen minutes for briquettes to heat up, you will know they are ready when the top layer starts to ash over.

 

To my first dutch oven, I add the biscuits.  You could whip up a batch of your own dough and make the biscuits from scratch, but since this is camp cooking, I tend to opt for the easier version on things.  So, for camp B&G I just use store bought biscuits.  I like to get the big homestyle ones that are buttery and flaky.  Before adding the biscuits, I place a layer of aluminum foil into the oven.  This helps the biscuits from getting too brown on the bottoms, keeps them from sticking, and also makes clean-up that much easier.  Place the biscuits in a single layer on top of the foil, and cover with the lid.  To the bottom of the dutch oven, add between 8-10 briquettes for a 12″ dutch oven.  The biscuits need to bake around 350 degrees to cook.  If your oven is smaller than 12″ subtract two or three briquettes, if it is larger add two or three.  On top of the oven, add 15-18 briquettes.

While the biscuits are cooking, start to preheat the second dutch oven stacked on top of the first.  Once the oven has heated up, add the pound of ground sausage.  I like to use homemade deer sausage, but any breakfast sausage is perfect for this recipe.  Cook the sausage until it is golden brown.  There is no need to remove the sausage from the pan.  You want to create a roux so the gravy will be thick and creamy, and at home you traditionally would pull the sausage out to do this, but this is camping! And the rules are meant to be broken while in the outdoors.  So, let’s break some rules and not remove the sausage!

To the sausage and drippings, add 1/4 cup flour and whisk until a paste forms and the mixture looks smooth and free of lumps.  This should take about a minute.  Slowly add the milk, stirring the entire time.  Allow the mixture to bubble and cook down until it reaches your desired consistency, stirring occasionally to keep things from burning or sticking to the bottom.  While you want the gravy to bubble gently while cooking, don’t allow it to come to a hard boil.  If things are too hot, simply remove a few pieces of charcoal from under the top oven and continue cooking.  Once the gravy is thick and glossy, season with salt and pepper.

The biscuits need between 12-15 minutes to cook.  They should be fluffy and golden brown on top when finished.

To plate this bad-boy breakfast up, split a biscuit in half and place it on the plate.  Smother it in the sausage gravy.  Dig in!  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Enjoy and Happy Hunting!

 

Dutch Oven Biscuits and Gravy

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

6-8 servings

Serving Size: 1 biscuit and half cup gravy

Dutch Oven Biscuits and Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 can homestyle biscuits
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Line the a 12" dutch oven with aluminum foil. Place biscuits on top of foil and cover with lid.
  2. Place 8-10 already heated charcoal briquettes below the oven. Add 15-18 briquettes on top.
  3. Stack a second dutch oven on top of first.
  4. Allow second oven to preheat.
  5. Add pound of sausage and cook until just browned.
  6. To the sausage and its drippings, whisk in the flour, creating a roux. The flour should create a lump-free, smooth paste.
  7. Once roux is ready, slowly add the milk, stirring the entire time.
  8. Allow the gravy to come to a gentle boil and reduce down, stirring occasionally to prevent burning or sticking. Once the gravy has reached desired consistency, and season with salt and pepper.
  9. The biscuits should be ready in 12-15 minutes, so check them as you cook the gravy.
  10. Plate by breaking open a biscuits and smothering in sausage gravy.
  11. Enjoy!
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Chicken Cordon Bleu: Fancy Dutch Oven Dinner!

 

img_0236“In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.” ~ Julia Child

I live in a rapidly evolving tourist town. People visit from all over the world to river raft, mountain bike, off-road, canyoneer, base jump, and rock climb. I grew up here, and watching the explosion of visitors, hotels, stores, and restaurants has been overwhelming at times. However, growing up here also allowed for an ample of opportunities to work in a variety of fields.

My brother worked as a river guide for years, leading rafts full of adventurers through the rolling waves, dramatic drops, and whirlpools of white water rafting. He mostly worked overnight trips, which required him to not only be the raft guide, but also a hiking guide, chef, medic when necessary, and camp host.

Even though the river trips carried participants to the deep backcountry of southeastern Utah, the meals served on the trips were always first-class fine dining (with unfortunately maybe a little beach sand). My brother cooked extensively in a Dutch oven on the majority of these trips, and he has shared many of those recipes over the past few years with me.

The first Dutch oven meal he taught me was chicken cordon bleu. This dish was one of the most anticipated meals of the trip.  The flavors developed in the Dutch oven make this decadent meal even better tasting then when prepared at home in a traditional oven. I think this meal is a great first-timer Dutch oven meal because it is really, really hard to mess up. And while it is great for the Dutch oven newbie, it is also so amazingly fantastic that it is the perfect meal for impressing your guests with. Sitting around the campfire with a plate full of roasted chicken and ham, melted cheese, and creamy sauce will make even the most cynical camper love the outdoors!

As always, start with getting the coals ready.  This meal will need about a total of 35 coals, so I always do a couple extra because some burn down to unusable during the heating process. To heat my coals, I purchased my charcoal chimney at the Sportsman’s Warehouse for about $20.00 and it was worth every penny. All you do is crumple up a few pages of newspaper and stuff them under the base of the chimney, add your coals, and light the paper. You don’t need lighter fluid or even the match light coals. Initially, the chimney will set the coals on fire, much like the barbeque pit. After a few minutes, the coals will go down and they will start to ash over. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes for the coals to be ready. I usually pull mine from the heat when the top ones are half grey and half black. If you wait until the top ones are completely grey then the bottom ones are almost gone. A reminder I ALWAYS need when cooking with my dutch oven is to remember to not set up my dutch oven just in the dirt. The dirt will extinguish the coals (I know, common sense should take over here, but I do it all the time!) I usually set my dutch oven up on a flat rock, but you can also buy metal pans that make the process even easier!

While the coals are heating, prepare the cordon bleus.  I bought the boneless skinless chicken breasts.  If you want to save a little money, you can get the breasts that still have the rib meat or skin on and clean them yourself; however, when working in the outdoors I try to eliminate as many steps as possible. The breasts need to be flattened out a bit in order to achieve proper rolling of the cordon bleus.  I placed my breasts into a gallon size Ziploc bag and then used a coffee cup to pound them down. When I am at home, I just lay plastic wrap over the breasts and then use a rolling pin to do this part, but when camping I do not bring a rolling pin….and the Ziploc seemed like a safer idea for protection of my chicken breast from dirt and bugs and other outdoor hazards.  Anyway, the point is to find something flat and heavy and whack the crap out of the chicken breasts until they are a half or quarter inch thick.

cordonbleuchicken

On top of the flattened breasts, add a few slices of deli black forest ham (or whatever your favorite ham is).  I suggest just buying a pre-sliced deli packaged ham because, again, it eliminates the step of thinly slicing a chunk of ham. On top of the ham, lay down your favorite piece of white cheese. Traditional cordon bleu uses Swiss cheese. I went a little wild this time and used Havarti. It was a really nice substitution.

Roll the chicken into little bundles and secure using two toothpicks.  The cordon bleus are now ready for breading.

cordonbleurolled

So, the next step in the process is to cover the chicken bundles with breading. Typically at home, I set up a breading station: a plate with flour for the first coating, a shallow dish with a beaten egg, and a plate with the breading. I work through each station and drop the cordon bleu into a pan at the end. For camping, I used Ziploc bags to help simplify the process. The bags were convenient for each station, also created a transportation container for the flour, and made clean-up a breeze. So, before I left I home, I filled a gallon freezer bag with about a cup of flour, and also grabbed two more gallon bags.  Once cooking, I cracked an egg and added a bit of water to the second freezer bag, and also filled the third bag with Italian bread crumbs.

To bread, drop a chicken bundle into the flour, seal the bag, and give it a good shake, making sure to coat the entire bundle.  Remove from the flour bag and drop in the egg bag. The final bag is the breading bag, making sure once again to the coat the entire bundle. Repeat with remaining cordon bleu bundles.

Place the cordon bleu in a single layer into the Dutch oven. Set the oven over 10-12 coals and then place 15-20 coals on the top. The chicken needs to cook at about 350 Fahrenheit. I also like to check the temperature of my oven by using my hand to guesstimate where things are at. I read this online, and while it isn’t a fool proof method, I have found that it has not failed me yet. So, place your hand about 6 to 8 inches above the dutch oven. You should only be able to hold it there for about five seconds. If you can do this, you are at about 350 degrees, which is what this chicken needs to cook at. If you can hold it there longer, say ten seconds, you are more around 250-300 and you need to add more coals. If you are only able to hold it there for a second or two, you are too hot, more around 400, and need to remove a couple of coals from the bottom! Like I said before, this is a really great starter meal because it isn’t super temperature dependent. If you are too hot or too cold, you most likely won’t destroy the meal.

cordonbleufrying

Let the chicken cook for 30 minutes.  During this time, prepare the sauce. I just have to add that this sauce is so good. I wanted to keep eating it, but all good things must come to an end. So, for the sauce, in a large mixing bowl whisk together a can of cream of chicken soup, half cup of sour cream, half a cup of milk, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

cordonbleusauce

After the chicken has been cooking for 30 minutes, pour the sauce over the top of the chickens. Allow them to continue cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Plate those beautiful melted bundles of cordon bleu, drizzle with extra sauce from the pot, and serve alongside a simple salad. Camping meal fit for royalty!

cordonbleufinalplate

Happy Hunting!

Chicken Cordon Bleu: Fancy Dutch Oven Dinner!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

4

Chicken Cordon Bleu: Fancy Dutch Oven Dinner!

Ingredients

    For Cordon Bleu Bundles
  • Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 15 ounce can Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 package deli ham (black forest)
  • Havarti pre-sliced cheese
    For Sauce
  • 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Heat about 40 coals in charcoal chimney until ashed over, about 15 minutes.
  2. Pound chicken breast flat, to about a quarter to half inch thick.
  3. Place a slice of deli ham and slice of cheese on top of chicken breast. Roll into bundle and secure with two toothpicks.
  4. Create breading station in gallon size freezer bags. First bag should contain cup of flour, second bag should contain beaten egg and tablespoon of water, and third bag should contain bread crumbs.
  5. Place chicken bundle in flour bag and coat entirely in flour. Move to egg bag and coat entirely. Finish in the breading bag. Repeat with four remaining chicken bundles.
  6. Place bundles in single layer in Dutch oven.
  7. Place Dutch oven over 10-12 coals on bottom and 18-20 coals on top. Allow chicken to cook for 30 minutes while preparing the sauce.
  8. For the sauce, whisk together cream of chicken soup, sour cream, milk, and Dijon mustard.
  9. Add sauce to Dutch oven at 30 minute mark.
  10. Continue to cook chicken bundles and sauce for additional ten to fifteen minutes.
  11. Enjoy!
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Elk Shepherd’s Pie: Dutch Oven Style

shepherdspiescoop
That is shepherd’s pie in all its glory right there: meat, veggies, potatoes, and ooey, gooey cheese!

“I do hunt, and I do fish, and I don’t apologize to anybody for hunting and fishing.” ~ Norman Schwarzkopf

I never had shepherd’s pie as a kid.  My mom never made it. No grandmother on either side of my family passed along their secret ingredient that made their shepherd’s pie a family favorite, requested for any special occasion.  Growing up, the closest I had to shepherd’s pie was when my mom would split a hot dog in half down the center, place it on a baking sheet, pile on a mound of mashed potatoes, sprinkle on cheddar cheese, and melt it under the broiler.  Not exactly shepherd’s pie, but I see some similarities I guess: meat, potatoes, cheese.

I wasn’t introduced to shepherd’s pie until I graduated high school.  Over a college break, I stayed with a friend’s family and we had it for dinner.  I immediately was a fan of the gravy soaked beef with vegetables under a dome of potatoes and cheese.  I was informed then that this meal was a family favorite, ever requested by aunts, uncles, and cousins when they came to visit.  I was secretly a little angry at my own family for trying to pass off hot dogs as an acceptable substitute.  Trust me, aunts and uncles weren’t requesting hot dogs as a special treat when visiting my home growing up.

Since then, I have prepared shepherd’s pie many times and experimented with different flavor and texture combinations.  I have used different meat bases: elk, deer, pronghorn, beef, lamb, buffalo.  I have manipulated the gravy from cream-of-this to cream-of-that or even gone broth or wine based.  I’ve switched up the vegetables: corn, celery, carrots, maybe a little cubed sweet potato.  Once, I even used mashed turnips in place of the mashed potatoes to see if anyone would notice.  For the record, they did, and not really in a good way.  The only thing I always keeps the same is a big pile of cheese to finish everything off.

This recipe is a double bonus; it is a wild game dish, and it is a dutch oven recipe that is perfect for your hunting camp!  To start, light your coals.  I use a charcoal chimney when I am camping.  They heat the coals quickly, and the chimney is easy to use.  Simply pour the desired number of charcoal briquettes in the top, wad up a few pieces of newspaper, stuff them under the chimney, and light the newspaper.  The chimney should start to smoke and the coals should be ready in about 15 minutes.  You can tell they are ready to go when the top layer of coals start to turn to ash around the edges.

shepherdspieelkFor this recipe, I used a 12″ oven, but a 14″ would also work fine.  Place the oven over a fairly large number of coals, like 20 -25.  You want to get the oven as hot as you can in order to fry the meat.  You could also use a gas camp stove for this part, which would save on the number of coals needed for the entire recipe.

Drop in a pound of ground elk meat to the oven.  I used my homemade elk burger for this recipe, which is simply a 1/4 pound of bacon ends ground with 3/4 pound of elk.  I like the bacon because it adds a hint of bacon flavor to the burger but still the perfect amount of fat.  Brown the meat, which takes about five to seven minutes.  About half way through the meat cooking, throw in the diced carrots, onion, and celery.  You want them to cook until they are soft.  Once the vegetables are soft, add two or three tablespoons of tomato paste.  Season the pot with salt and pepper to your liking.

shepherdspievegetables

Okay, it is now gravy time!  With the pot still hot, pour in a cup of red wine.  You can use whatever type of wine you prefer or have on hand.  I used pinot noir this time because I wanted to have a glass of that wine with my dinner, but merlot or cabernet would also be great.  Let the wine reduce down by half and then add two cups of beef stock to the pot.  Continue to cook over medium high heat and allow this to start to reduce down, which can take around ten minutes.

shepherdspiecheeseWhile the beef stock is reducing, in a large pot of water boil two pounds of potatoes.  I used a Yukon potato, but you could use russet or red potatoes too.  Another great option when camping would also be the boxed instant mashed potatoes.  These would eliminate the need to boil a pot of water and cook the actual potatoes.  Boxed instant potatoes simply require adding boiling water to dehydrated potato flakes.  Another option would be to make the mashed potatoes at home and just bring them along.  You will heat them up when you melt the cheese, so this option works just as well as any.

To the potatoes, add a quarter cup of butter and a quarter cup of milk or cream.  You could also add a couple tablespoons of sour cream, if you so desire.  Be sure to salt and pepper the potatoes.

Once the stock has reduced down, pour in the can of corn.  Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the elk mixture, making sure to reach all the corners of the pot, and sprinkle on a cup of the cheese of your choice. I tend to use cheddar cheese when I make shepherd’s pie, but I went with a Monterey Jack for this recipe, thinking it would pair better with the red wine.  If you are cooking over coals, remove about half the coals, leaving behind 12-14 on the bottom.  If you cooked your meat over a camp stove, set out 12-14 coals for your oven to now sit on.  Place 15-20 coals on the top of the oven.  Let the shepherd’s pie cook for fifteen minutes, giving enough time to melt the cheese, heat the mixture thoroughly, and soften the corn.

shepherdspiefinalplate

Shepherd’s pie is comfort food at it’s best, and this dutch oven version allows you to bring comfort food straight to the outdoors.  Perfect for sharing around the campfire, this meal is hearty with fluffy cheese covered mashed potatoes, and a little bit sweet from the carrots, corn, and touch of red wine.  The elk definitely shines as the star of this dish!  Enjoy!

Happy Hunting!

Elk Shepherd's Pie: Dutch Oven Style!

Elk Shepherd's Pie: Dutch Oven Style!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice

Instructions

  1. Start coals for dutch oven.
  2. In large pot add potatoes, cut into quarters, and boil.
  3. In dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook ground elk.
  4. Add diced celery, onion, and carrots, cook until soft.
  5. Add tomato paste and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour in red wine and reduce by half, about five minutes.
  7. Add beef stock and continue to reduce, about ten minutes.
  8. When potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes, mash and add butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Once stock has reduced, add the can of corn.
  10. Spread mashed potatoes over elk mixture, covering completely. Sprinkle on cheese.
  11. Cook in dutch oven over 12-14 coals on bottom and 15-20 coals on top for 10 minutes, until cheese has melted.
  12. Enjoy!
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Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake

pineapplecake“The world is wrong side up. It needs to be turned upside down in order to be right side up.” ~ Billy Sunday

Sometimes at home, I will pull something out of the oven and be pleasantly surprised with how beautiful it turned out.  The glistening golden brown skin of an oven roasted turkey, a buttery caramel-colored cake top, bubbly, slightly browned mozzarella melted over lasagna, all those things cause me to pause, just briefly, and think, “Huh, that turned out pretty.”

I can’t say that happens when dutch oven cooking.  Usually, I open the lid, steam comes rushing out, and once it is cleared I think, “Well that looks like a disorganized pile in a pot.”  I’m not saying it doesn’t look delicious, just beautiful never comes to mind.

Pineapple upside down cake in the dutch oven is a different story.  I lifted the lid and smells of sweet pineapple and rich cheese cake filled the air.  I thought, “That smells fantastic and looks delicious.”  But then I flipped the cake over, and it was a melted blend of rich reds, and golden yellows and oranges from the pineapples, cherries and brown sugar.  It looked like a little watercolor painting sitting on a plate.  It was beautiful.

I passed the plate around the campfire and told everyone to look how beautiful our dessert was.  “Almost to pretty to eat,” my dad said.  “Almost.”

He was right.  While it was a passing moment of admiration, the cake was gone with no leftovers, not even crumbs on the plate, in a matter of minutes.

To start this beautiful dessert, line a 10″ dutch oven with foil.  Foil is helpful for a few reasons.  First, it keeps the dutch oven cleaner.  Sugar can really bake down deep into the cast iron and can be difficult to clean-up.  Second, it helps with flipping over the cake.  Finally, the aluminum helps keep more delicate foods, like cakes, breads, and biscuits, from burning to the bottom of the oven.

pineapplefoillined

After you line the oven, start the coals.  I use a charcoal chimney when I am camping.  They heat the coals quickly, and the chimney is easy to use.  Simply pour the desired number of charcoal briquettes in the top, wad up a few pieces of newspaper and stuff them under the chimney, and light the newspaper.  The chimney should start to smoke and the coals should be ready in about 15 minutes.  You can tell they are ready to go when the top layer of coals start to turn to ash around the edges.

In the foil lined oven, melt a stick of butter.  Once fully melted, spread it to the edges of the oven and then sprinkle a light coating of brown sugar.  Lay the pineapple slices and maraschino cherries into the buttery sugar mixture.

pineapplecherries

In a large bowl, pour in a box of cake mix.  I used a mix specifically made for pineapple upside down cake, but a yellow, white, or even angel food cake would be a nice alternative.  Normally, at home, I would say to make a cake base from scratch, but this is outdoor cooking and delicious but simple is the name of the game.  To the cake mix, add four eggs, a box of cheesecake flavored instant pudding, 1/2 cup oil, and the juice from the pineapple can.  Mix everything until the lumps are gone and the batter is smooth and silky.  Pour the batter over the pineapples and cherries.  Evenly spread the batter over the entire oven.

pineapplebatter

On a solid surface, like a flat rock or metal grate, place 12-14 coals and set the oven on top. Place about 15-20 coals on the top of the oven. I also like to check the temperature of my oven by using my hand to guesstimate where things are at. I read this online, and while it isn’t a fool proof method, I have found that it has not failed me yet. So, place your hand about 6 to 8 inches above the dutch oven. You should only be able to hold it there for about five seconds. If you can do this, you are at about 350 degrees, which is what the cake needs to cook at. If you can hold it there longer, say ten seconds, you are more around 250-300 and you need to add more coals. If you are only able to hold it there for a second or two, you are too hot, more around 400, and need to remove a couple of coals from the bottom.

pineappledutchoven

This cake takes about an hour to bake.  At around the 45 minute mark, I start to hang out much closer to the dutch oven.  As soon as I smell the unmistakable scent of pineapple and cheesecake, I check the cake.  To see if the cake is ready, first do a touch test.  Lightly press on the top of the cake in the center, if it is finished baking it will lightly spring back when pressed on.  Second, you can insert a tooth pick in the center of the cake and it should come back out clean.  The top will have a light brown color.

To make this cake truly upside down, use the foil to pull the entire cake from the oven.  Set the cake on a flat surface and place your serving plate on top of the cake.  Gently slide your hand under the cake, place the other hand on the plate, and flip.

pineapplefinal

Interested in other dutch oven desserts?  Try apple pie, baked pears and dried cherries, and banana upside down cake!

Happy Hunting!

Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 can sliced pineapple, 20 oz
  • 1 box cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 box cheesecake instant pudding, 3.4 oz box

Instructions

  1. Start dutch oven charcoals in chimney.
  2. Line a 10" dutch oven with aluminum foil. Melt stick of butter in oven and sprinkle cup of brown sugar over butter. Place pineapples and cherries in butter-sugar mixture in single layer.
  3. In large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, cheese cake instant pudding, and juice from the pineapple can. Mix until batter is free of lumps, and silky smooth.
  4. Pour batter over pineapples. Spread batter evenly over entire dutch oven.
  5. On a flat, hard surface place 12-14 coals. Set oven on top of coals. On top of dutch oven add 15-20 coals.
  6. Let cake cook for one hour.
  7. Cake is ready when toothpick comes out clean. Flip cake and enjoy!
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Dutch Oven Apple Pie

applepiedutchovencookedpie“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” ~ Jane Austen

No season is more defined by flavor, smells, and taste than fall.  Sure, summer has lemonade and watermelon, and winter has hot chocolate, but fall has a an overabundance of flavor.  Pumpkin, cinnamon, caramel, ginger, cranberry, maple, and the list could go on and on! One of my favorite fall flavors to play with is apple.

Apple can be coupled with a variety of options.  Caramel and apples are a wonderful pair.  Pears and apples make for a sweet and tangy dish.  Apples even compliment the subtle sweetness of onions when sautéed together.  But nothing can quite compare to apples and cinnamon in a crusty, flaky traditional apple pie.

Apple season was in full swing last week, and I was lucky enough to get in a case of honey crisp apples to play around with.  I decided to create a special weeknight apple pie treat at home.  It was nothing short of amazing.  Traditionally, apple pie is made with tart apples, like green granny smiths.  Honey crisp apples, which are hybrid from keepsake apples and another unidentified parent, are a bit larger apple with a tangy sweetness and a firm texture.  They are an excellent eating apple.  I could not bring myself to eat an entire case of apples, so I had to come up with something to do with all those apples.  Bring on the pie!

So, after making the pie at home, I decided to take some apples with me for our fall muzzle loader mule deer hunt.  Dutch oven pie sounded like a pretty simple and good idea.  I was right about the pretty simple part, it was easy to throw together and one of those recipes that would be hard to mess up.  I was mistaken about the good idea; it was a great idea.  The pie was even better in the dutch oven then than the one I had made at home.

applepiedutchovenapplesSo, if you are interested in having a phenomenal dessert to serve your hungry campers and hunters after a long day, look no further, dutch oven apple pie is it!

Start the coals first.  They take quite awhile to get hot, so it is advantageous to start them before doing anything else.  I use a charcoal chimney! I purchased my charcoal chimney at the Sportsman’s Warehouse for about $20.00 to start my coals.  You could also do them in a fire pit, but I tend to lose a lot of coals when I do it that.  With the chimney, all you do is crumple up a few pages of newspaper and stuff them under the base of the chimney, add your coals, and light the paper. You don’t need lighter fluid or even the match light coals. Initially, the chimney will set the coals on fire, much like the barbeque pit. After a few minutes, the coals will go down and they will start to ash over. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes for the coals to be ready. I usually pull mine from the heat when the top ones are half grey and half black. If you wait until the top ones are completely grey then the bottom ones are almost gone. A reminder I ALWAYS need when cooking with my dutch oven is to remember to not set up my dutch oven just in the dirt. The dirt will extinguish the coals (I know, common sense should take over here, but I do it all the time!) I usually set my dutch oven up on a flat rock, but you can also buy really great metal pans that make the process even easier!

applepiedutchovenappleslicesNext, peel, remove the core, and slice the applies into slices that are about an inch thick.  This is a task that technically could be done at home before leaving for camp.  It would also be a fun task to have the kids help out with.  As I said before, I used honey crisp apples, but a more common approach to apple pie is the granny smith apple.  In all honesty, I would probably use the granny smiths if I had not had a case of honey crisp for the simple reason that honey crisp apples are expensive.  Anyway, select the apple of your liking and start peeling!

When making desserts in a dutch oven, I like to line the oven with aluminum foil.  It is probably against some cardinal dutch oven rule to line the inside with foil, as the idea behind cast iron cooking is the oven becomes seasoned over time with all the dishes you have created inside it and this assists in creating even more flavor with each additional dish, but desserts use sugar, which is sticky, and makes a big, difficult to clean up mess.  So, I line the oven with foil for any sugary dessert.

For this dessert, you want to use a smaller dutch oven.  An eight inch oven would be ideal for this pie, but I only had a ten inch available.  It still worked fine.  I laid the crust in the bottom of the oven and then added the apples over the top.  When I prepare apple pie at home, I like to make a crust from scratch.  When I am out in the wilderness, crusts from scratch are cut and I just use the store bought refrigerated ones.

For the sugar syrup in the apple pie, you will need a gas stove.  You could do this part in a dutch oven, and it would work just fine, but it would require having two ovens.  So, I used a small camp gas stove.  In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt a stick of butter.  Once the butter is melted, sprinkle in three tablespoons of flour and then whisk until a paste is formed.  To the paste, pour in a quarter cup of water, a half cup of brown sugar, a half cup of sugar, a tablespoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of ginger, and a quarter teaspoon of salt.  Mix until the sugar starts to dissolve and then let the mixture cook at a very light boil for five minutes.

applepiedutchovensauce

To make things a little easier, I pre-measured the sugars, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and placed them in a Ziploc bag.  This makes cooking outside a bit easier because you don’t have to worry about bringing measuring cups along for your camping trip.

applepiedutchovenappleslices

applepiedutchovenlattice

Pour the sugar syrup over the apples.  Cut the second crust into inch thick slices and create a lattice top over the pie.  Cover the oven and set over the coals.  For this recipe, the oven needs to be cooking at about 350 degrees.  I put 14 coals on the bottom and about 10 to 12 on the top and let her go! I also like to check the temperature of my oven by using my hand to guesstimate where things are at. I read this online, and while it isn’t a fool proof method, I have found that it has not failed me yet. So, place your hand about 6 to 8 inches above the dutch oven. You should only be able to hold it there for about five seconds. If you can do this, you are at about 350 degrees. If you can hold it there longer, say ten seconds, you are more around 250-300 and you need to add more coals. If you are only able to hold it there for a second or two, you are too hot, more around 400+, and need to remove a couple of coals from the bottom.

Let the pie cook for about an hour.  The top should be slightly browned and the sugar syrup bubbling up between the lattice holes.  You also should be able to smell the pie.  I call this the sniff test, which was a technique shared with me by my brother-in-law (he worked for years as a river guide on the Colorado River and made thousands of dutch oven meals. I consider him my dutch oven mentor!). Going by smell sounds like a weird tactic, but it works and it is crazy! You might THINK you smell the pie a few times and will catch a couple of whiffs, but when the dessert is done you will be OVERWHELMED by the smells of cinnamon, apple, and brown sugar and it can be from a good distance away. That is a sure fire way to know it is ready to eat!

applepiedutchovenfinishedpie

Happy Hunting!

Dutch Oven Apple Pie

Dutch Oven Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 8 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts (usually come in a pack of two)
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Start coals for dutch oven.
  2. Peel, core, and slice apples into two inch slices. Set aside.
  3. Line oven with foil, and cover oven bottom with one pie crust. Pile in apple slices.
  4. Over medium heat in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until paste forms.
  5. Add sugars, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Stir until combined. Let boil for five minutes.
  6. Pour sauce over apples and create lattice top with second pie crust.
  7. Cover dutch oven with lid and set over 14 coals. Add 10 to 12 coals on top. Allow to cook for one hour.
  8. Enjoy!
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Chipotle Apricot Rum Chicken: Dutch Oven Dinner At Its Best!

dutchovenapricotchickencampsite“A good spicy challenge strikes a balance between flavour and fear.” ~ Adam Richman

Out for the muzzleloader deer hunt this past weekend, it got cold! It was in the mid-70s on Friday afternoon.  For a fall October afternoon, it was one of those days reminiscent of summer.  It didn’t feel possible for the sky to be so blue and clear.  The sun had a direct path to my face, and the day just felt, well, hot!

Come Saturday morning, it was like Friday never existed.  A cold front blew in, and the sky filled with black, thick, heavy clouds and rain tickled the desert sand. On Friday, I was out in a camp chair, reading books in the sun while taking a break from hiking the desert in search of mule deer.  On Saturday, I wanted to sit by a fire, a cup of hot chocolate warming my hands, and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders.  It was dark and windy and cloudy, but most importantly it was COLD! Gone was a warm fall afternoon, and instead it was replaced by the 50s, and quickly dropping to the 30s by sundown.

I was so happy come Saturday evening to have a spicy, warm, rich dutch oven dinner ready to share with the hunting camp. This recipe takes a bit of time to cook, but is worth the wait and is very simple to put together. It is perfect for a chilly evening and a tired, maybe even exhausted, camp full of people.

Heat a 14 inch dutch oven over a significant number of coals, like 14 to 16.  You want the pot to be hot enough to brown the chicken.  Pour in two tablespoons of cooking oil and two tablespoons of butter.  You want an oil that can handle getting hot since you are browning the meat.  Canola oil works great, but other good options are vegetable, avocado, and peanut oil.  Get the oil hot before dropping the chicken in.  For this recipe, I used a dozen chicken drumsticks, but wings and thighs would also be good additions.  The other nice thing about this recipe is you can make it as big or as small as needed.  The recipe creates a lot of sauce, so you could add up to six or eight more pieces of chicken to the pot and still have plenty of room.

dutchovenapricotchickenfryingSprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper before adding to the pot.  Brown each side for about three minutes.

Pull the chicken and set it aside.  Add the sliced onions and minced garlic to the pot, and cook them for about five minutes.  If the oil is too hot from frying the chicken, you might consider removing a couple of coals from beneath the oven and drop the heat a bit.

Now comes the fun part.  Drop in a cup and half of rum. I love this part!  The rum will hit the pan with a sizzle, pulling a bunch of flavor from the chicken, onions, and garlic from the bottom of the pan, and then it will bubble.  Just the sound is delicious!  You can use whatever type of rum you have on hand, white or dark, or you could substitute the rum for whiskey or bourbon, maybe get a little adventurous with some brandy.  If you aren’t a liquor cabinet type person, you could also use chicken stock, which will still add tons of flavor to the dish.dutchovenapricotchickenonionsdutchovenapricotchickenbbq

Allow the rum to simmer the onions for a few moments, this will also cook off the alcohol.  After a few minutes, like three or four, pour in the entire bottle of barbeque sauce.  In order to create the heat in this dish, you want to get a spicy barbeque sauce.  I used chipotle, and it paired so wonderfully with the apricot and rum flavor.  The spicy really enhances the subtle sweetness found in apricots.

dutchovenapricotchickenjuiceThere are a couple of options for the apricot part of this recipe.  I was fortunate to have an abundance of fruit available to me this summer, and juiced my own apricots. I used an entire quart of the apricot juice for the recipe.  You could also purchase apricot juice at the super market. My suggested brand is the Santa Cruz Apricot Nectar, which comes in a 32oz jar.  I would probably start with half the jar, check the sweetness level, and then see if you want more apricot.  Another option is a jar of apricot jam.  If you use jam, you will need to add a cup of water to the pot.

To finish things off, add two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.  If you used unsweetened apricot juice like I did, you will also need to add a tablespoon or two of honey to add a bit more sweetness to the dish.  Give everything a good whisk, add the chicken back to the oven, and place the lid over it.  Add about ten coals to the top of the oven.  This dish is designed to cook for a long time, so the flavors can really develop and gain some depth, and also so the chicken gets tender and starts to fall of the bone.  Mmmmmm…

dutchovenapricotchickenpotPlan on giving the pot at least an hour to cook.  If you have more time, you can let it go an extra half an hour, your palate will thank you for it!

There are several ways to finish this meal.  You could always just eat the chicken by itself, but I like to serve it over the top of something.  For this weekend’s trip, I poured the sauce and placed the chicken thighs over sweet potatoes.  I baked the sweet potatoes in a dutch oven for about an hour and a half.  When they were soft, I split them and mashed them up a bit, then scooped spoonful after spoonful of the spicy sweet sauce directly on the mashed sweet potato and then added two to three chicken thighs.  You could also do a russet potato or even rice.

Well, I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious dutch oven recipe. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes or if you have any questions.

Happy Hunting!

dutchovenapricotchickenfinalplate

Chipotle Apricot Rum Chicken: Dutch Oven Dinner At Its Best!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

4-5

Chipotle Apricot Rum Chicken: Dutch Oven Dinner At Its Best!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 12 Chicken Legs, Wings, Thighs
  • Two Medium Onions Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups rum - white or dark
  • 18oz Bottle Favorite Barbeque Sauce - I used Chipotle!
  • 32 oz Apricot Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a 14 inch dutch oven over 14 - 16 coals. Drop in butter and oil.
  2. Once butter has melted and pan is hot, add chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Brown each side of chicken for three minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Remove a few coals, three or four, to drop the heat of the oven a bit. Add diced onions and minced garlic. Allow to cook for five minutes.
  5. Add rum to the oven and simmer for five minutes.
  6. Pour in the entire bottle of barbeque sauce and apricot juice.
  7. Add Worcestershire sauce and honey. Stir and test sweetness level, add more honey if you like!
  8. Add chicken back to oven, cover with lid.
  9. Place additional 10 to 12 coals on top of the oven.
  10. Allow oven to cook for one and a half hours. The sauce should be thickened and chicken should be tender and falling off the bone.
  11. Serve over baked sweet potato, russet potato, or rice.
  12. Enjoy!!!
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Dutch Oven Nachos!!!!

NachosSunsetPhoto“Life is a nacho. It can be yummy-crunchy or squishy-yucky. It just depends on how long it takes for you to start eating it.” ~ John Updike

I always struggle with dinner the first night of a hunting trip. Usually, we pull into camp after dark. Everyone knows how it goes. You have a long weekend planned full of camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, and recreating, but you can’t leave until after work on Friday. And then when you get home from work, you realize you have to go grocery shopping for three days worth of food. And then you realize you have to load the truck. And the entire drive to camp you are remembering all the things you left at home, like a pillow or the coffee (Oh man! Don’t even start with me on someone forgetting the coffee, talk about a camping nightmare!). When all is said and done, you pull into camp after dark, and you still have to set everything up!

It is always at this point I realize dinner is going to be a midnight affair, if we are lucky. Usually I like to start my hunting trip with a memorable dinner to kick the weekend off right, but that plan always backfires, as it is too late to dutch oven anything in hopes it will be ready in a reasonable amount time for everyone to eat. We usually end up grumpily eating sandwiches, which were supposed to be for lunch the next day but have now replaced dinner. Everyone goes to bed a little disappointed at the start of the trip.

Well, this sad story will not be repeated for us anymore! I have found the PERFECT dutch oven meal for your first night at camp: Dutch Oven Nachos! They are quick, easy, delicious, and give that fun feel to the start of the weekend you are looking for, because hey, you are eating nachos in the outdoors and how fun is that? My favorite dutch oven meals are the ones that bring the unthinkable to the outdoor. Usually, nachos are made in the oven, or at least the microwave, and have a ton of ingredients so they don’t really sound like a very easy camping meal. Don’t be fooled, they are super easy!

NachosChimneyThe key to not having your nachos ready at midnight is to pull the charcoal chimney out when you first arrive at camp and light your briquettes. The briquettes will be ready to go by the time you are finished setting up the tent. Besides the coals, there is very little prep needed for this meal. Light the coals and allow them to heat until the top ones have just started to turn grey. I used to let them burn until the top ones were completely grey, but this resulted in the coals at the bottom of the chimney amounting to nothing more than dust.

The fun thing about nachos is you can top them with pretty much anything your heart desires. They can be filled with meat or vegetarian, spicy or mild, topped with a pile of veggies, have beans of several varieties, and so on. Anything the old heart desires!

I used a 12 inch Dutch oven for these nachos, but really any size will work. The temperature is not crucial to the success of this meal, like it would be if you were doing biscuits or some type of cake, so you can be flexible in the size of your oven. To start, I poured a very thin layer of nacho cheese sauce in the bottom of the oven. I felt that if I set my chips directly onto the bottom of the pan without a little bit of liquid they might burn. For those of you who might not know what nacho cheese sauce is, like I did not before making this meal, it is canned cheese found in the Hispanic food section of the grocery store. There were several varieties available out my grocery store, and I went with a queso fresco style, but you could get anything that catches your fancy. There were several varieties filled with different chilies or spices.

On top of the thin cheese layer, add a layer of chips. Everyone likes a different style of tortilla chip, and you can’t change their mind once it is set. Trust me, I have experienced this with the loved ones in my life. No fight is ever as vicious as when someone pulls out a brand of tortilla chips that is different than my sister’s or my dad’s favorite brand. So, use whatever brand of tortilla chips you love, but my suggestion, and it is purely a suggestion, is the Mission Tortilla Rounds. I like to use these for nachos because they are a bit thicker than some of the other brands, which means they hold up a little better to the cheese or other ingredients that make nachos soggy.

Nachos

NachosDutchOvenTo the tortillas, add a layer of shredded cheese. I used the Mexican cheese blend, but you could also use any variety of cheddar, Colby, or even Italian style cheese. Pepper jack cheese would add some nice spice and heat to your nachos. Next I poured half a can of black beans on top of the cheese. Again, there are several options of beans that could be added, including red kidney beans, pinto beans, or refried beans. At this point, you could also add meat. For this time around, I was looking to make a very quick meal and I did not add meat, but shredded chicken, pork, or steak would be amazing! You could also do chorizo or hot sausage. And that is something you could prepare at home and it would then be quick and easy to throw onto the nachos.

I added a couple more toppings to this pot of nachos, including pickled jalapenos, sliced black olives, and some diced tomatoes. You can create any flavor combination you want at this point. Other great toppings could include: diced pineapple slices, bell peppers of any color, red or white onion, zucchini (I know sounds, kind of weird but it is actually pretty good), shredded carrots, and whatever else you can dream up.

So, once you have all your toppings added, it is time for the second layer. Add another layer of tortilla chips, top with more cheese, the other half of the can of beans, and all the additional toppings you have decided to add. Top it with a final layer of chips and a sprinkling of whatever cheese is left over. To finish it off, pour the entire can of nacho cheese over the top of the nachos and let it run down through the mountain of chips and toppings you have created.

Place the lid on top of the oven and set over your hot coals. I did about ten coals on the bottom of the oven and added another eight coals to the top. Let the nachos cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the nachos are baking away, you can prepare the fresh toppings for your nachos. For this time around, I added shredded lettuce, salsa, diced avocado, and sour cream.

The nachos are ready once the cheese is all melted! Pile on your favorite toppings and enjoy around a crackling campfire!

Happy Hunting!

NachosFinalPlate

Dutch Oven Nachos!!!!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

4

Dutch Oven Nachos!!!!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • 1 can beans, any style including black, red kidney, pinto, or refried
  • Half pound meat, your choice of chicken, pork, steak, chorizo, sausage
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 can nacho cheese
    Additional topping suggestions
  • 1 can sliced black olives
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 jar pickled jalapenos
  • 1 shredded zucchini
  • 1 can diced pineapple
  • 1 diced tomato
    Fresh ingredients
  • Cilantro
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Lettuce
  • Diced tomato

Instructions

  1. Heat charcoal briquettes in charcoal chimney until top briquettes are just starting to turn grey, about fifteen to twenty minutes.
  2. In a 12 or 14 inch Dutch oven, pour a very thin layer of nacho cheese in bottom of pan.
  3. Add single layer of tortilla chips.
  4. Top chips with layer of shredded cheese.
  5. Add half of the can of beans.
  6. Add meat, if desired.
  7. Add additional toppings such as sliced jalapenos or black olives.
  8. Create a second layer of chips, cheese, beans, meat, and other toppings.
  9. Finish nachos off with a single layer of chips, any remaining cheese, and the rest of the can of nacho cheese.
  10. Cover with lid and cook over coals for fifteen to twenty minutes. Cook with 8 to 10 coals on bottom of oven and 6 to 8 coals on the top.
  11. Serve with additional fresh toppings.
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