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How many here use the dutch ovens?

Discussion in 'Food Forum' started by Sixgun_Symphony, Dec 20, 2003.

  1. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002

    I use my 12" DO for stews and chilis. My 10" DO is mostly used for baking cornbread and sourdough bisquits.

    Yes, I keep a sourdough starter.
  2. Sta. 18

    Sta. 18 Modern 'tater

    I love my Dutch Oven. It's the only thing I use for making stews. I think a well seasoned piece of cast iron is just as good as any other cookware which costs ten times as much.



    Jul 27, 2002
    Yeah, chili, sourdough biscuits, bread, stews, fricasses(sp?),etc. Just guard the dang things or some do-gooder will wash the seasoning out of them! RKBA!;)
  4. I use one to cook tough cuts of meat a long time until they are tender. The best part is to sear the meat on both sides in peanut oil (high flash point), with garlic cloves, the then pour in some chardonnay for sweetness, and let cook. Later, add your onions and carrots.
  5. Shoeless

    Shoeless Gun Totin' Girl

    Nov 25, 2001
    Planet Earth
    MR. SHOE DOES!!! And damn, is he stinky sometimes! Whew!

    What? Uhh... oh... Not that kind?


  6. Sta. 18

    Sta. 18 Modern 'tater



    We have had so many recent requests – as well as repeated requests over the years – for this information, that it (finally!) occurred to me to post it here for all to find, rather than copying and sending out the pages by “snail mail” to each person who asks. This is the complete scoop for seasoning and maintaining cast iron cookware of all sizes and shapes. It was sent to me years ago by the author who collects cast iron pieces as a hobby. His own words are such a pleasure to read, that they follow here, without editing.

    Below the section on seasoning cast iron, is a special addition that explains what to do in the event of needing to restore badly damaged or “ancient” pieces of cast iron. Cast Iron Jack modestly referred to these tips as “Priceless Words of Wisdom” – and they are!


    Anyone who’s ever cooked anything in a new cast-iron skillet or other utensil has probably figured out real quickly that the iron skillet needed something done to it before it was fit to use. If nothing IS done to it, two things will happen. One, the food will take on a metallic taste, and two, the skillet will surely rust no matter how carefully you dry it after washing. What that skillet needs is called seasoning.

    There is really only one successful way to season a cast-iron cooking utensil, and that is to use it, use it, use it. But until the months and years have passed that are needed to properly do the job through use, the iron must be coated with layer of something to protect it from rust and prevent that metallic taste from transferring to the food.

    Most manufacturers suggest ways to apply that layer of protection – always a fat of some kind – but most of their instructions seem designed to make the job seem easy and not scare off the buyer, rather than to do the job right. What is really required is a relatively thin layer of pure and simple carbon. Yes, carbonized fat or oil. Carbonized to a hard, smooth surface that seals the utensil from rusting and prevents the iron from exuding that metallic taste, which, by the way, is not harmful just a bit unpleasant. Contrary to some manufacturer’s instructions, that layer of carbon just simply cannot be formed at 250 to 350 degrees of heat. The carbonization of that layer of oil takes HIGH heat. Like 500 or 550 degrees.

    This is how Cast Iron Jack McGrew treats a brand new cast-iron skillet or other cast–iron cooking utensil:

    1. Remove any labels, and if the manufacturer has included some printed instructions on how to season the piece, throw it away quick before you read it. Wash the piece well by hand with regular hand-type dishwashing detergent. Dry it thoroughly. NEVER put cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher.

    2. Rub a relatively thin coat of oil all over the piece with the fingertips. Animal fats are not really suitable, as the carbon formed is usually quite soft, not nearly as hard as vegetable oils. One cooking-lady-about-town has always recommended using mineral oil, but since Ol’ Jack doesn’t fry his eggs in mineral oil, he doesn’t use it to season skillets either. Jack himself uses almost any kind of vegetable oil, even bottom-grade olive oil, but generally likes regular Mazola or Wesson oil types the best.

    3. Such oils as Wesson oil or Mazola will become tacky as they air dry, and the piece should be allowed to air dry for perhaps two to four days, turned upside down on a newspaper to absorb drips. If an oven with a pilot light is available, its temperature should be about 110 to 120 degrees, and drying in such an oven will speed the process. Once the piece has become tacky to the touch, handling it very carefully so as not to leave fingerprints on the tacky surface, carefully BLOT (don’t wipe) any drips that are not tacky. If the piece has shiny areas that are very tacky, the oil was too thick. If it has almost no tacky feel at all, the oil was too thin. In either case, it can be recoated. The application of new oil will dissolve or thin the oil on those shiny spots and it can then be wiped to a thinner coating. If the coating seems too thin, just add another thin layer.

    4. All that remains to be done is to burn that oil coating to a layer of carbon. Put the piece upside down in the oven, with a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drips and turn up the heat. Ol’ Jack, like a lot of other heavy-duty cooks won’t let an electric oven or cooktop through the kitchen door, so his oven is gas. He sets it at 500 degrees and burns that pan for one hour.

    5. Yes, you’ll want the exhaust fan on, and all the ventilation you can get. It’s always nice to do a few pieces at once, as the process does smoke up the kitchen, and who wants to do that every week? Let the cast-iron ware cool slowly in the oven for an hour or two after you turn off the heat, and voila! It’s ready to use. If the carbon coating seems a little thin, the process can be repeated immediately.

    No account of Cast Iron Jack McGrew’s Ultimate Method would be complete without some instructions on washing, cleaning, and caring for the cookware after you’ve seasoned it, so take Ol’ Jack’s instructions to heart:

    1. Rule #1 is NEVER cook at higher heat than is necessary to do the job.

    2. Rule #2 is always try to remember to clean the piece while it’s still hot. If it cools before you get around to cleaning it, it can be reheated. Sometimes a quick shot of a pan coating like PAM and 30 seconds on the burner will work wonders. Other times, just blistering hot water from the sink faucet will suffice.

    3. Rule #3 is NEVER do any more cleaning than is necessary. If you’ve just fried a couple of eggs with a squirt of pan spray, at low heat, a quick wipe with a paper towel is probably going to be all that’s necessary.

    4. If a quick wipe with a paper towel won’t do the job, hold it under that blistering hot water from the faucet and scrub it briskly with a stiff fiber brush; stiff enough to loosen any bits and pieces off carbonized food sticking to the pan. Remember, what you want that coating to be is carbonized oil, not carbonized groceries.

    5. If there are still bits and pieces of carbonized food sticking to the pan, give it a quick swipe with an old, dull copper or stainless steel Chore-Girl. Don’t use a new, sharp one; it’ll scrape off your nice new seasoning. Avoid wire brushes like the plague. Don’t even think about those nice yellow fabric things that have metal particles imbedded in them, and never, never use those space-age plastic scouring pads.

    6. If it really becomes necessary to wash the thing in soap and water, go ahead and do it. That age old admonishment to never use soap has been handed down through the generations since “soap” was a home-made commodity consisting of lye and bear grease, and the lye alone was enough to strip the seasoning from a skillet. Modern detergents are about as much wetting agents as anything and have no relationship to what people meant when they said “soap” a hundred years ago. Just wash it in the sink, using your regular hand dishwashing detergent and a stiff bristle brush -- or even that old, dull Chore-Girl – dry it carefully, and when you’re done put a few drops of vegetable oil in it and wipe it around with a paper towel until it’s dry. Yes, the paper towel will be black. No, it isn’t dirt. The black is carbon.

    7. Eventually, after enough use and proper cleaning, that surface in your skillet will get to be just like Teflon or Silverstone type surfaces. It will require very, very little oil for most cooking.

    *Naturally, I can’t leave well enough alone (this is Melinda writing now) so I will add that I do use (the previously maligned) mineral oil for one step of this process. After drying the piece in Step 6, I rub it with mineral oil instead of vegetable oil before putting it away. That’s because mineral oil will not become tacky or rancid, but vegetable oil will – and I like the mineral oil result better for that reason.


    If you’re collecting old cast-iron cookware – or just have a few pieces around the kitchen – you may wonder if it spent the last fifty years getting coated with the same stuff the roof man used when it leaked around the fireplace. What that stuff is, my friend, is carbon, carbonized fat and food particles. It can be removed and a new, “base coat” applied. The result is worth the effort. How to do it? Well, you have several choices.

    First, no amount of rubbing and scrubbing with steel wool or a Chore-girl will take it off. It can be scraped off, but it’s a primitive and tedious method. Scrapers that utilize single-edge razor blades are the most useful. Sandpaper will cut the carbon, but also the base metal. Best of all, use a lye solution. Get a plastic container (like a new trash can) big enough to submerge the item. Make sure (with water first) that it doesn’t leak. Get a can of lye at about any supermarket. It’s nearly always right next to the Drain-o on the shelf. Lye is a highly caustic chemical and it is absolutely imperative that you wear rubber gloves and protective goggles and to work in a very well ventilated area. With the cast-iron piece submerged in just enough water to cover it, dissolve some or all of the lye in the water. A good strong working solution is a can of lye to 2 or 3 gallons of water. Put your plastic container somewhere the kids and pets can’t get into it and wait it out. How long? Oh, anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on how thick and hard the carbon buildup is, how strong the lye solution and the temperature. The lye works faster when it’s warmer. If you’re so inclined, you can help it along a little with a scraper from time to time; but stay in a well-ventilated area, wear those rubber gloves and avoid eye contact by keeping those goggles on.

    Once that carbon build-up is removed, the next thing you’re certain to find is a layer of rust. It too must be removed. The lye won’t dissolve it, but you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to remove before it dries out after the lye-bath soaking. A brand new, sharp stainless steel or copper Chore-girl, used with a lot of elbow grease under running water will take off a lot of rust. There are two or three kitchen cleansers on the market made especially for aluminum and stainless steel -- available in most supermarkets – which do help the Chore-girl considerably. Regular kitchen cleansers, like Comet, Babb-O or Dutch Cleanser are probably better than nothing but don’t seem nearly as effective. Barkeepers Friend or Kleen King are better for this purpose.

    Without any doubt, the most effective way to remove that rust is with a motor driven wire brush mounted on a workbench. If you have access to one you’re in luck. Hand brushing with a wire brush is a slow, tedious and ineffective process; so much so that one would almost stay with the Chore-girl and metal cleanser and forget the wire brushing. With a rotary brush, one can keep going over it and over it and it and it looks better all the time. When enough is enough is up to you, but a final process before giving up on the brushing can be an overnight soaking in a fairly strong solution of Lime-Away. Lime-Away is an acid and about the strongest acid that Ol’ Jack would recommend, because any strong acids are very dangerous to use and will, of course, attack the base metal as well as the rust. Once you’ve done your final wire brushing, wash the piece thoroughly with regular detergent, rinse and dry it well and season it the same as you would a new piece as described in Ol’ Cast Iron Jack’s famous bulletin “Cast Iron Jack McGraw’s Ultimate Method for Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware” (above).
  7. Cali-Glock

    Cali-Glock Mountain Man

    Feb 11, 2002
    California Sierra Mnts
    I could have guessed Sixgun_Symphony cooked in dutch ovens!

    YES - I have some "house dutch ovens" and campfire (with legs & high liped top for coals) ovens.

    Cast iron and a wood fire is the only way to cook!

    Not a great picture, but you can see a few of my cast iron pieces next to the wood stove[​IMG]

    Here are a couple of me cooking with cast iron on the wood stove.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here are some more cast iron cookware.. (I have more than 40 pieces total)


    Here is my nephew in one of my few non cast iron pans
  8. I have some that I use quite often. My favorites though are the Cousances and LeCreusets.
  9. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002
    Nice! woodstove you got there Cali-Glock! ^c

    40 cast iron pots & pans? Excellent!

    Do you participate in any dutch oven cookoffs?
  10. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002

    When I season my cast iron cookware, I turn the temperature up to 500 degrees for a half hour. Then I let it cool down and when it is cool enough to touch, I put on more oil and turn back up to 500 degree temperature. I repeat usually repeat this process three times to get a good seasoning. The cast iron cookware comes out so black that people have asked me if I painted them.

    Just be sure to have those windows open and have the electric fans turned on.
  11. Cali-Glock

    Cali-Glock Mountain Man

    Feb 11, 2002
    California Sierra Mnts
    Nope; I LOVE to cook, and I do 95% of my cooking on cast iron (I use stainless saucepans) but have done very little true dutch oven cooking. Have not done much camping in recent years; and somehow I was not motivated to take my dutch oven with me backpacking - which has been the only camping I have done in the past few years. I want to introduce my wife to camping ( ;Q car camping) - so when and if we get arround to that, I'll pull out my dutch oven campfire cookbooks and have some fun!
  12. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002

    An advantage to the camping dutch ovens is that you can cook ouside in the summer months when it is too warm in the house for using the kitchen stove.
  13. jame

    jame mange takk

    Apr 6, 2002
    Central Iowa
    It gets damned cold here in Iowa, Six. Any tips on cold weather cooking?
  14. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002
    Try the fireplace? The fireplace was where people cooked before the woodstove was invented.

    Just be sure to get a conventional fire going before you light up any charcoal briquets. You need to get the warm air going up the chimney or you will get carbon monoxide from the coals going into the house.
  15. glocknsail


    Mar 19, 2001
    Fat Bastard: Baby, it's what's for dinner.
  16. MrsKitty


    Mar 23, 2003
    And that is a killing offense, just as bad as washing the bread pan;)
  17. Craigster


    Dec 15, 2002
    Wa. State
    Cleaning…. The method I have used for over 20 years is after the meal is over or even the next day is to put the Dutch oven in the fire or on the coals empty and without the lid until it JUST starts to smoke what is left in the bottom, but not to hot it’s a feel thing. Leave on the heat and throw in enough ice cubes (they should bubble and steam when they hit) so when they melt will cover the bottom with about ½ inch of water. While they are melting and water is hot use the spatula to clean up the inside. Dump and rinse with water then dry with a paper towel. Use another towel and a little cooking oil to lightly coat the inside and bottom of the lid while still warm. Store with the lid on. This procedure produces a clean oven in less time than it takes to throw another log on the fire. If your oven gets gunkie while stored over a long period a little vinegar rub will shape it up.

    I practice at home inside a kettle BBQ.

    Favorite camp recipes:
    Last day “Left over” omelets.
    Chicken potpie.
    Sheepherder pie.
    Chocolate fudge cake. Requires homemade ice cream. The kids love to crank for a lick off the paddles.
    Prime Rib.
    Biscuits and gravy.
    Elk chili and corn bread.
    Clam chowder

    I could go on but Iv gotten too hungry to continue.
  18. 45+

    45+ "Senior" Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Lone Star State
    We have several pieces that we use at home or on the campfire.

    Thanks for all the great suggestions and encouragement, folks.

    Keep legal, keep proficient, and keep packin'...the (cast) iron.
  19. Sixgun_Symphony

    Sixgun_Symphony NRA4EVR

    Apr 16, 2002

    Hey, I would like to get the recipie for that. :)
  20. lethal tupperwa

    lethal tupperwa

    Aug 20, 2002
    February 03, 2004 10:30 PM ET/PT
    February 04, 2004 2:30 AM ET/PT
    February 08, 2004 2:30 PM ET/PT
    February 21, 2004 7:30 PM ET/PT

    Alpine Dutch Oven Cook-Off
    Alpine, Wyoming is host to Alpine Mountain Days and Dutch Oven Cook-off. Participants in the Dutch Oven Cook-off bring their covered wagons and best old west dress and whip up their finest gourmet dishes over an open fire.