Cowboy (er..girl) Campfire Cooking
First thing you need is a set of Lodge
cast iron, dutch oven cookware.
This is the official cookware of the Boyscouts!!.....and cowboys.
I acquired these ovens from the sporting/camping section of Walmart, AND a nice Merchantile shop in Virginia. Check out Red Hill General Store for their list of Dutch ovens.
Here, on the left, I use 3 ovens (with legs) for cooking with hardwood
coals or charcoal briquettes (Kingsford is best)
I have two 12 inch 8 qt camp Dutch ovens w/rimmed lids, and one 8 inch 2 qt oven. The rim is to keep the coals on top, to bake and brown!
I use the 12 inch ovens for large baking like pies and casseroles, the 8 inch is for cornbread, cobblers and yeast rolls!
On the right is the traditional standard 10 inch 6 qt Dutch oven (no
legs), for braising meats and stewing.
I cook the collards in this. It is also great for beans, soups and chili, hanging over the fire!
And HOW do I hang this over the fire, you ask!!!!?!!!
Back in 2003, I was watching RFD-TV and saw the show Campfire
They had a good looking camp cooking setup with hooks and accessories, so I bought one! The longer hooks allow you to hang your ovens low, for high heat, or high (on the shorter hooks) for simmering.
I thought the swing grill they offered was a tad expensive, so I bought a similar one from Campmor. An outdoor catalog for campers and hikers. It swings out of the way, if you don't need it. Pretty cool huh!!?! It comes in VERY handy to grill chicken, hamburgers, franks, a set of baby back ribs, or roasting homegrown peppers and squash.
Other web pages for camp setups and campware:
Camp Chef outdoor cooking supply
Cowboy Flavor cooking
Cowboy Living products
Tool Wizard Camping
As you can see, I grow my own maters, beans, squash and peppers. Currently, I have 5 different kinds of peppers which I use all year. Hot bananas, Cayenne (which I dry and grind up for powder), Jalapenos, Poblanos and Giant Marconi. The Giant Marconi pepper is an Italian sweet pepper that can get 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. Once it turns red, pick it and roast over the fire. It turns so sweet, you won't believe it!!
NOW, on to the dutch oven technique!!
Cooking with Camp Dutch ovens is not that much different than using a kitchen stove and oven. You have to be more aware of the temperature of your fire and coals, though. To cook meats, using a braising method, is easy. You need to take your dutch oven and place a 8 inch meat trivet in the bottom.(The trivet will keep the meat from burning and sticking to the bottom of the oven.) Then add your meat to the oven, with an inch or two of braising liquid in the bottom. This liquid can be water, but water doesn't add flavor to the meat. Choose a favorite soda or juice to add. Even some wine would be nice. Let this oven cook over the flames, hanging on a long hook to get the meat up to temperature quickly. When it starts to boil, move the oven to a shorter hook, that is further from the flame and let simmer for 2-4 hours, depending on how big the meat is.
To bake in an oven, is not very hard, but does take practice. Use the oven with the legs. With this, you can hang the oven over a slow fire, as you did with the braising of meat, but you also have to add coals or briquettes to the top, to brown. With casseroles, I line the oven with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, and then add whatever ingredients needed for you specific casserole and bake. I believe the Boyscouts use the Kingsford Briquettes and figure 1 briquette on the lid converts to 20° of temp. 10 briquettes = 200°F, 20 briquettes = 400°F. If not baking over the fire, place a few hot coals or 5 briquettes on the ground and place the dutch oven on top. The legs keep the oven from crushing the coals/briquettes. Then add your briquettes to the top for browning. I do the same for breads, but use a butter spray on the inside, instead of using aluminum foil, to prevent sticking.
When baking pies, I use the trivet again, so as to not burn the bottom
crust. Then I add a folded lengthwise piece of heavy duty aluminum foil
on top of the trivet to make a lifting device to remove the baked pie from
the oven. Bake the pie as you did the cassarole, with the coals/briquettes.
Note: Every 10 minutes, turn the oven 90 degrees to the right and the lid 90 degrees to the left, to keep the pie away from hotter spots and thus prevent burning!!
This is important!!
Cowgirl life: it's the simple things that count!