Guess what kind of shoes I have on today? Sandals! It has been an unseasonably warm winter here in southeastern Utah, and spring has arrived much earlier than past years. I looked up the average temperature for our area in March, and the internet (which knows all, right?) said the average is 61 degrees. It was 78 two days ago, and currently, my phone (also which knows all, right?) is saying the high today will be 73 degrees. To be honest, it feels crazy; however, it does make me think about starting all my favorite outdoor activities: swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. I am also very keenly aware now that turkey season is right around the corner! I am excited and it is not just for the bird hunt. I can not wait for camping and the meals that go hand-and-hand with outdoor living. So, in honor of my impatient excitement for the spring turkey hunt and all the food that goes with it, I am going to share one of my favorite dutch oven breakfast recipes.
I am still a dutch oven newbie, and this recipe was one of the first meals I ventured out solo on. Previously, I had a helping hand from my brother-in-law. He helped me prepare the coals, check the temperature during cooking, and taught me the sniff test for knowing when things are done. He was not around for this meal, but everything went fine and the meal turned out great. My favorite thing about the dutch oven is that it is very forgiving, for the most part, and somehow even if things appear to go wrong the meal still tastes great. Plus, camp cooking, even if it is what some would consider an epic fail, is always good because you are enjoying it while CAMPING!
Anyway, this recipe is nice because it is a one-pot meal. It kind of reminds me of old fashioned golash. You just chop everything up, throw it in the oven, and wait for your giant moshpit of meat, vegetables, spices, and whatever else you decide to throw in to be ready!
To start this meal, I prepared the coals first, because I wanted to cook my sausage for a bit before I started adding everything else to the pot. Also, I popped open my two cans of premade biscuits and dropped them into a large bowl with a dozen eggs beaten together with about half a bag of cheddar cheese. The biscuits get a beautiful brown crust on them if you soak them before cooking. The biscuits soak for about fifteen minutes, so I start the coals and then mix of the eggs and biscuits.
I heated about half a bag of coals and pulled out 14 to place under the oven at the start. For this meal, I used a 14 inch dutch oven, but you could also use a 12 inch or even a 16 inch. The size difference will really only change the thickness of your meal and possibly add or substract a few minutes of cooking time. Once I could feel a bit of heat rising out of the oven, I dropped in my sausage and some onions. I also sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on my meat, but not a ton because I wanted to season the rest of the meal a bit closer to the finish.
Anyway, I used a pound of elk sausage for this meal, but any pork or beef based sausage would be great. You could also do turkey sausage, bacon, chunks of ham, chicken sausage, or even leave it meat-free, if you so desire. It is a very versatile meal.
I only cooked the sausage for a few minutes, just to get a little brown on the meat and let some of the onion flavor mix in, before I added some peppers. You could use just green bell peppers, but I added red in because I love a little color. As I have heard so many times on cooking shows, we eat with our eyes too. Also, I think the red peppers are a bit sweeter than the green, and I always enjoy that bit of tangy sweetness. Any color of bell pepper would be beautiful for this meal: yellow, orange, purple. You also could add some heat with jalapeno or anaheim peppers. Pablano peppers would also go great in this meal, and as I write this I am deciding that I will definitely add pablano peppers the next time I make this.
Get everybody better acquainted in the pot with a quick stir, and then drop the lid on it and let things meld together for about five minutes. This will also help ensure that the peppers get soft, which is a better texture for this meal than if they are crunchy.
After the peppers have had a few minutes, I drop the eggs and cheese into the dutch oven. You want to leave the biscuits in the bowl, because they are not added just yet. This can be a difficult dance to manuveur, because the eggs REALLY want to pull the biscuits along with them, so I am just throwing out a small warning here…everybody will want to run from the bowl at once, so pour slowly. I usually grab a large spoon to hold the biscuits back as I pour.
Season with salt and pepper, give everybody a good stir so the eggs can cover everything, and return the lid. At this point, I check the heat of my oven. You want it to be around 350 degrees for the rest of the time, and depending on how long you have been cooking, you might need to add a few more coals to the bottom of the oven. I check this by counting how long I can hold my hand right above the top of the dutch oven. For 350 degree, you should only be able to hold your hand there for about five seconds. This website has a great guide for gauging temperature on your dutch oven: http://www.dutchovendude.com/campfire-cooking.shtml
I let the eggs cook for about 10 minutes. When you lift the lid, the eggs should just be starting to firm up and holding together. At this point, I drop the biscuits over the top and sprinkle on some more cheese (I have a bit of a cheese addiction, if you can’t tell). Put the lid back over it, and let the biscuits cook for 10 to 15 minutes. You can check at 10 minutes to see how things are going, and you can tell they are done when the biscuits are golden brown. Also, as I have said before with dutch oven meals, you can smell when this meal is done. The smell of cheese and biscuits is undeniable once it seeps out of the oven, and that is a go-to method for knowing breakfast is ready!
In a 14 inch oven, this meal can feed a very large crowd. A decent size portion is one biscuit per person, so you are looking at almost 16 servings with this meal. In my family, we are pigs when it comes to camping food, so I would hesitate to say that it is 16 servings for us. I would say it is more around 10 servings, with many of those being extra-generous portions.
This breakfast is hearty, complete, and very versatile. You have the freedom to use a variety of meats, peppers, and vegetables. It is simple to pull together, but tastes incredible while enjoying a cup of coffee or juice in the great outdoors. Happy Hunting!
* Pound of sausage (your choice: I went with elk, but you could use any type)
* Medium onion, chopped
* Three bell peppers, chopped (color of your choice, could also add jalapeno or pablano peppers)
* 12 eggs, scrambled
* 2 cups of cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
* 2 cans refrigerated biscuits
* Salt and pepper to taste
Place eggs and cheese in large bowl, scramble and top with two cans of refrigerated biscuits. Place pound of sausage and onion in dutch oven and heat until sausage just starts to brown. Add chopped peppers. Cover oven and let peppers soften, about five minutes. Pour in scrambled eggs and cheese, reserving the biscuits in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover oven and cook eggs, sausage, and peppers for ten minutes. Check to make sure eggs are starting to firm up before adding biscuits. Top egg and sausage mixture with layer of biscuits and sprinkle on more cheese, if desired. Cover oven and cook for 10-15 minutes. Breakfast is ready when biscuits are golden brown and cheese is melted. Enjoy!