Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dutch Oven - Spiced Peach Cobbler

This time I thought I sunk to an all time low. Now, who puts gatorade in a cobbler? Who puts gatorade in any cooked dish? Well, I decided last minute to bake a cake, and I had already added the peaches and cake mix and then realized I needed more liquid. Usually I would add a can of soda, but we didn't have any. So, I added the only sweet liquid I could find. It actually tasted really good, and you couldn't taste the gatorade. This is the first time I've cooked a cake successfully in a long time.

350 Degrees
10" Dutch oven

1 Spice cake mix
2 cans peaches
1/2 bottle gatorade, purple flavored

Add peaches to greased dutch oven. Sprinkle cake mix on top. Add gatorade and stir to mix the cake mix. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Italian Stuffed Pork Chops & Potato

In an effort to push the envelope even further here at the Back Porch Gourmet, I made Italian Stuffed Pork Chops. I used really thick cut chops that we had in our freezer. It turned out really well, and the tomato bruchetta stuffing really gave nice color contrast. One of my scouts stopped by during dinner to pick some stuff up and said it really smelled good, so I guess that is a compliment!

I'm really getting used to the efficiency of my volcano. This is the first meal that didn't stick to the bottom too bad in a while. I'm not saying I burn dinner every time I cook, but I've just had too much heat. Using less coals really did the trick.


350 degrees
12" Dutch oven

Thick pork chops
Olive oil
Bread crumbs
Asiago cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Dried garlic
Italian salad dressing mix

Potatoes, cubed

Mix bread crumbs, asiago cheese, mozzarella cheese, bruchetta, dried garlic, 1/4 the italian salad dressing mix, and mushrooms in a mixing bowl. Bread pork chops with bread crumbs. Cut a large slit in the side of each pork chop almost to the other side. Stuff the chops with the filling mixture. Add potatoes, milk, and remaining salad dressing mix to a greased 12" Dutch oven. Toss with olive oil. Place the stuffed pork chops on the potatoes and add the remaining mushrooms. Top each chop with the remaining stuffing mix and sprinkle the dish with parsley. Bake for 30 minutes until meat is cooked thoroughly and potatoes are tender.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dutch Oven - Scout Split Pea Soup

Today was really unique, because I got to cook 2 different meals in my dutch ovens today. The scouts were at my house all day building a sled ("Tiny Tim" that is really not that small. It's huge!) for the Klondike Derby race next weekend. I decided that if I was going to keep them motivated, I would need to feed them. So we made some simple food from my stores.

2 cans precooked pork chunks
1 cup rice
1 cup lentils
1 cup green split peas
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup alphabet noodles
Beef bouillon
Celery Salt
Onion powder

350 degrees
Roasting, with minimal top heat

Saute the garlic in the oil and add all other ingredients. Check often to ensure there is enough water level. Keep replenishing the water, because the water will evaporate, but the flavors will stay in the soup. Serve as soon as the dry ingredients are tender.

3 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Chicken Paad Thai

Tonight we had Missla's cousin over for dinner. They are a really cool couple and have a new baby girl and a six year old son. After dinner's revelry and merriment, we played "Qwirkle" a game much like Scrabble, but instead of making words, the tiles all have 6 shapes in 6 colors, and you line up the tiles in rows and columns. (Like colors in columns, like shapes in rows.) When you complete all 6 tiles in a row or column, it is a Quirkle, and is worth 12 points. I don't like to brag too much, but I got 5 Qwirkles and won the game.

Earlier in the day I had spent 7 hours building a sled with the scouts for our Klondike Derby race. I was pretty worn out, so I'm glad I picked something easy. This is a variation on the Shrimp Paad Thai that was featured earlier. I tweaked it just a little and I think it turned out better.

350-375 degrees

Chicken, cubed
Ginger powder
Rice noodles
Bean Sprouts, whole
Red bell pepper, chopped
Green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
Cilantro, minced
Peanuts, crushed

Saute garlic in oil. Add chicken and braise, mixing in generous shakes of curry and ginger. Soak the rice noodles in warm water according to package directions and set aside for later. Add vegetables and half of cilantro. Add noodles after vegetables begin to tenderize. Add coconut milk and stir. Let cook for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender, stirring often. Serve with minced cilantro and peanuts. Peanuts can be crushed by placing them in a plastic zip top bag, placing inside a kitchen towel and hitting with a hammer or meat tenderizer.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

*From now on, I will be referring to the cooking style and temperature covered earlier.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Product Review - Volcano Model I

About a month ago, my coworker sold me his Volcano model I. I have used it extensively every weekend since then. I thus feel that I have gotten to know it very well, so I will review its performance.

The way these things work is there is an inner chamber where you place your dutch oven, surrounded by an air circulation chamber. This design is so effective that you can cook on top of a plastic table and no heat will escape down to the bottom. The bottom is cold to the touch for the first hour or so of cooking.

The thing I like about it is that it is so versatile. You can cook one pot dutch oven with even heating and increased efficiency, or do a stacked dutch for more volume, or use it as a campfire, or with the grill attachment you can barbecue over a wood fire.

Using the Volcano takes some getting used to. Because there is more heat transfer and reflection, you need to use a lot less coals or you will burn your meal. When we made breakfast for 35 people, the Volcano saved our skin, because we were able to rotate the 3 12" Dutch ovens in the volcano and cook them fast. The integrated flue helps control how fast the coals burn inside, which is a nice feature not available if you are cooking in the open.

The volcano gets the heat off the ground, so if you are cooking in snow or grass, it is not going to melt the snow, or burn out the grass. I wish I had the volcano at the City Weekly cookoff last year. I had to put my ovens on bricks and pizza pans.

Now it is time to talk about the cons. It's hard to find things I don't like about it. It is kinda big, and the model II takes care of that with a folding mechanism. I also wish I could put a larger dutch oven in it, but then it would be too big, wouldn't it? The thread on the screws to set the Dutch oven is really fine, and I would have liked to see bigger knobs, since it takes a long time to tighten the screws for my 10". Other than that, I think it is a great product and would recommend it to anyone from the novice to the expert.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Primer: Cooking Methods

So cooking is just adding heat to food right? Basically, yes. In many ways, cooking hasn't changed in the thousands of years it has been around since man discovered fire. In this primer, I will discuss the 4 basic cooking methods as it relates to outdoor cooking: roasting, broasting, baking, broiling, as well as the 3 heat transfer methods.

First we need to know some things about heat dynamics. The 3 ways heat can be transferred to food are convection, conduction and radiation. Convection is the moving of hot air in an enclosed space. Conduction is direct heat from metal to food. Radiation is heat waves penetrating food, such as a solar oven or microwave oven. In many cases, it is not a clear cut of only one type of heating. For example, a reflector oven works by receiving heat via radiation by a nearby fire, and the hot metal cooks the bottom via conduction, while hot air circulates the immediate area via convection. One more example: the dutch oven. Hot metal cooks the bottom and sides, while convection currents cycle inside. This is why you don't fill your dutch oven up all the way. Otherwise, it is just a big stew pot and you are cooking by conduction alone. The airspace allows the even heating of convection.

The four methods below mostly work best when applied to Dutch oven cooking, but some methods can be used in other forms of outdoor cooking.

Roasting: Roasting is cooking with all heat coming from the bottom up. Spit cooking, sauteing, frying, grilling and stick cooking over a fire are all examples of roasting. Roasting is good to use when braising meat, or for cooking wet meals such as chilies and stews. I usually start every Dutch oven meal with roasting.

Broasting: A hybrid of broiling and roasting, broasting is 2/3 of the heat on top and 1/3 of the heat on bottom. Broasting is good for carmelizing a top while still cooking the bottom, and is my favorite method for cooking roast.

Baking: Baking is even heat on top and bottom. With dutch oven, this is not the same coals on top and bottom, because the bottom will be hotter. It is usually a 1-2 ratio with more heat on the top. Baking is good for cakes and other desserts, casseroles and anything you would bake in your oven at home.

Broiling: Broiling is all the heat on the top. I typically only use this to finish off a meal to caramelize a cheese topping or toast the top of the dish.

Deep frying: Technically roasting, but the even heating of food suspended in hot oil not only yields evenly cooked food, but very tasty and unhealthy since the food soaks up the oil.

Radiative cooking: This is using radio waves to cook food. Solar ovens and microwave ovens are examples, but this method is not very common.

Some quick definitions:

Frying: Roasting with a small amount of oil or fat.

Searing: Roasting meat with little or no fat to seal in the juices.

Sauteing: Roasting vegetables with a medium amount of oil or fat.

Braising: Roasting meat with a medium amount of oil or fat.

Deep Frying: Roasting with a large amount of oil or fat.

Toasting: Broasting or Broiling to achieve a crustiness on the top of the food.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dutch Oven - Chicken Pot Pie

Tonight we had my wife's parents over for dinner. I had debated heavily over what to cook for them, but I knew it would be a "Chuck Wagon" meal, because I've been cooking too many "Gourmet" meals lately. I had made this before and it turned out really well. I always get stressed cooking for company, because I'm under the gun and I have deadlines. Yet, I keep doing it every weekend. I guess you could say I'm a glutton for punishment.

This is very simple, and short of leaving it to burn for 6 hours, I don't think anyone could mess it up. It consists of a liquid filling and a biscuit top. This is great for campouts, because if you use precooked or canned chicken, you don't have to worry about refrigeration.

350 degrees
12" Standard Dutch Oven

Garlic, chopped
Chicken breast, cubed
Season Salt
Celery, chopped
Carrots, chopped
Potatoes, cubed
Onion, cubed
1 Can chicken stock
2 Cans cream of chicken soup

Saute the garlic in the oil to release the flavors. Add the chicken and spices, braising until almost cooked through. Add vegetables and saute. Add chicken stock and soup. Bake for 30 minutes. Add mixed Bisquick to top in dollops. Bake for 10-15 minutes until biscuits are golden brown and pass the toothpick test*

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

*The toothpick test is to poke a toothpick through the thickest part. If it comes out clean, it is done. If it is doughy, it needs to be cooked longer. This is a standard test for all dough-based dishes including cakes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dutch Oven - Wasatch Chile Verde

Tonight we wanted to entertain company but all attempts fell through. It's pretty hard to line up guests the day before. So instead of doing a Chicken Paad Thai, I started to make a light white chili, and it turned more into a chile verde. This 2 alarm chile would go great as a smothered burrito sauce.

350 degrees*

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 cup green taco sauce
1/2 cup green tomato salsa
2 cans beans
1 pound shredded precooked chicken
1 pouch southwest marinade mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Saute garlic in oil, add all other ingredients. Let stew for 30 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.

3 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

*Starting now, I will be referring only to the baking temperature, not the number of coals. Please refer to the temperature to coals conversion chart in the sidebar.

By the way, I name my chilies after mountains near my home. The spicier the chili, the taller the mountain.

Grill - Smokey Mountain Chicken Part II

Last night we had our friends over for dinner, with the plan to barbecue. I got home an immediately lit the charcoal. It was about 25 degrees out, and snowing, so I put out my Volcano I and lit a fire. I had moist wood, so I used lots of "Scout Water" (lighter fluid) and had to tend it to keep it going. It kept me warm, and I was only wearing a jacket. The coals were ready to spread, so I put them in my barbecue, and heated the grill tines. I srubbed off last time's burnt on gunk and was ready. Matt & Tammy arrived, and we put the chicken on the grill. They had brought chicken too, but had brought some marinated tenders, and mine were very thick. His finished really fast, and the coals started to burn colder. I was afraid this would happen, so we took his chicken off and put it on the top rack. I pulled out the grilling rack with some insulated gloves my brother gave me, and put it on the Volcano. Since I could only get pencil sized twigs to stay lit, the coals did not last long in 25 degree weather. It was almost a bust. I finished the chicken on the trusty George Foreman grill. Yes, I know that is cheating, but there is no shame in avoiding salmonella. This spring I will scour the classifieds for a used gas grill when everyone goes out to buy that new fancy one.


Smokey Mountain Marinade

Garlic Powder

Follow the directions to make Smokey Mountain Marinade. Sprinkle with dill and garlic powder and grill on both sides until done.

4 Stars

The Grillmasters taking a break for a photo op.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start When You Unplug the George Foreman Grill!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Grill - Smokey Mountain Marinade Part I

Tonight I will be having my friends over for some barbecue, and I didn't want to eat plain meat, or something just kissed with a rub. So last night I put together this marinade and let it soak overnight.

Smokey Mountain Marinade

1 part vinegar
2 parts worchestershire sauce
3 parts A1 Steak Sauce
2 parts liquid smoke
2 parts oil
Season salt
water to cover the meat

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a plastic bag and add meat, making sure the meat is below liquid. Marinade for 12-24 hours.

The trick to a good marinade is 3 fold: an acid, an oil and a flavor base. In this case the acid is vinegar, the oil is oil, and the flavor base is everything else. The acid helps break the barriers to permeate the meat so the flavors can get inside. The best marinade I had was a 48 hour marinade of some chicken chunks we were grill on kebabs. We had to postpone our party, and it worked out for the best! They were so dark and full of flavor that they looked like little chunks of steak.

*Rating pending upon tasting.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Primer: Roux

You'll Roux the day you cook without me! Revenge is mine!

Well, maybe you won't rue the day you don't use a roux, but they definitely prove very useful. During this primer I'll talk about what a roux is, how to make one, and when to use one.

So you are creating that perfect sauce, say a white sauce, with cream milk and artisan cheese. Everything is going good until you decide to thicken it. You add a little flour thinking that the starches in the flour will thicken the sauce. Instead you get a lump of goo inside a thin sauce. Gross! Don't even put the cheese in, just dump it out... it's ruined.

Simply put, a roux (pronounced ROO) is flour mixed with equal parts liquid fat. (such as oil, butter, bacon grease, or any other liquid fat.)

As paraphrased from Matt Pelton's great Dutch oven book, The Cast Iron Chef, there are 3 types of roux:

1. Blonde Roux
2. Brown Roux
3. Brick Roux

The blonde roux is cooked long enough just to mix the flour and oil. The gluten in the flour have not had a chance to cook. The blonde roux adds the least amount of flavor in the sauce of the 3 roux. If you have a sauce that you really want to showcase the sauce and not the thickening agent then use a blonde roux. A blonde roux is golden in color.

The brown roux is cooked so that the flour gluten is released and is brown in color. Don't be fooled; it is not burnt. It adds a rich flavor to the sauce and is typically used in heavy sauces such as gravy and stews. Cook the roux for 10-15 minutes until it is a brown color.

The brick roux is so named because the flour is cooked until the gluten is completely released and it is the color of a red brick. This roux adds the most flavor to the dish and it mostly used in Cajun cooking. It is not common to use the brick roux, unless you are cooking Cajun because it adds a strong flavor to the sauce.

Roux does not keep extremely well in the fridge, probably no more than a week. I usually make it as I need it, using the fats from the meat I cooked with, or olive oil for a more healthy meal.

A roux can be spiced up by sauteing some chopped garlic with the oil, or adding any spice when adding the flour. This adds a subtle flavor to the roux, and therefore the sauce.

Using different types of flour will yield different results. Bleached white flour gives the best color, while a whole wheat flour will yield a better flavor. Grinding your own wheat to make the roux is best, but not very convenient, unless you have an electric wheat grinder.

Other thickening agents that can be used are cornstarch, which actually can be added straight into a hot sauce. Make sure the sauce is near boiling and sift the cornstarch first to reduce clumping. Cornstarch adds essentially no flavor to the sauce, so it is perfect for delicate sauces.

Corn masa or ground hominy can be added to chilies to thicken and add a savory flavor.

Next time you want to thicken that cream sauce, don't just dump in a starch and pray. Plan ahead and cook a roux, remove it from the pot and then add a little at a time until it thickens to your satisfaction. Remember, you can add more liquid, but if you run out of roux, you have to make more. That is why I usually make my sauces a little too thick at first, then add more liquid if necessary.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dutch Oven Duel - Creamed Dill Basa Fillets with Potato

Tonight we came home from church and immediately started working on the dutch oven duel. For those just tuning in, I had challenged Mark at Mark's Black Pot to a "Dutch Oven Duel". We chose 3 ingredients for each other to work with, a meat, a spice and a fruit, vegetable or starch. I was given fish, dill and potato. I chose for Mark pork, curry and orange. Since my parents were coming over we served dinner at 5:30, and I actually was on time for the dinner bell with them! This is what I came up with for the challenge.

I was busy cooking a pig yesterday, so I couldn't go to the store myself. Instead I sent my awesome wife to do the shopping for me. She called me during a very dangerous full contact game of "do you know your neighbor" with the young men and young women of our congregation. She wanted to know what kind of fish fillet to get. I had put flounder, because we saw some frozen flounder at the store, but she had gone to a different store, and they didn't have flounder. I said "Just get the cheapest fillet you can find". Dangerous words, right? One might think so, but she came home with some basa. I thought they had just keyed in a misspelling when they labeled it, and it was bass. Turns out basa is a catfish that swims in Vietnam and Thailand. You learn something new every day, right? Basa is a very flavorful cut, but does not have the fishy taste that turns most people off.

Bottom: 15 coals
Top: 18 coals
12" Standard Dutch Oven

5-6 basa fillets, or other fish fillet
5 large potatoes
1 tb chopped garlic
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup milk
6 tb butter
3/8 cup flour
olive oil
balsamic vinegar*
1 pound white hard artisan cheese (I used asiago)

Rub the fish fillets with dill, salt and pepper. Braise the fish in a generous amount of oil. *Spill some balsamic vinegar in the pot by mistake, because it looks exactly like the olive oil bottle. Sear both sides then remove and set aside. Add butter and melt. Add garlic and flour, combining to a blonde roux. (a blonde roux is golden in color and does not cook much of the flour gluten.) Remove roux and add cream, 1/2 the milk, generous shakes of dill, salt and pepper. Add spoonfuls of the roux until the cream sauce thickens. I ended up using it all and it turned out perfect. When the sauce thickens, grate about half the cheese stirring often. Add the potatoes and stir with the cream sauce. Add the fish on the top and grate some cheese on top. Replace the lid and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with bread and steamed vegetables.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Well, I had a great time throwing down the gauntlet with Mark, and I look forward to see his challenge posted up at the Black Pot. If you cook a mean dutch oven, find somebody else who does and have a similar challenge! It will not only help your skill grow, but you can make some great friends in the process!

My parents gave the dish rave reviews and my wife, who hates fish, said it was really tasty! ~Take THAT Mark! ;)

I steamed some mixed vegetables. To steam in a Dutch Oven, just put about 1-2 inches of water in the bottom and add the vegetables with even heat on top and bottom.

I toasted some premade french bread and served it with bruchetta.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stove - Oxtail Soup

Yes, I said oxtail soup. Before you say 'gross!' and go google some LOLCATS, read the full post, because the soup was really tasty. In fact I'd say it is the best soup I've had in a long time.

This is part of the medieval dinner that our young men cooked for the young women in our neighborhood. When Mike asked the boys what it means to braise meat, I was the only one who could answer correctly, so I was tasked with cooking the soup.


3 pounds oxtails
worchestershire sauce
1-2 table spoons beef base
salt and pepper
season salt

Braise the oxtails in a large stock pot. (By the way, if you also don't know how to braise beef, put a little olive oil in the pan and brown all the sides of the meat.) Add chopped vegetables and saute until the onions just start to turn clear. (When they turn clear they are releasing the starches and also flavor into the food.) Add water to about 3/4 full and let simmer. Add worchestershire sauce, salt & pepper, and season salt to taste. Add beef base about 15-30 minutes before it is time to serve. Serve with bread.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Pit Cooking - Roasted Whole Pig

Our special activity coordinator Mike, that I cooked with last week, did a medieval dinner for the young women in our neighborhood. They were given a pie tin, a knife, and a cup. We served oxtail soup, salad with oil and vinegar, and a mixture of cheeses, dates, and nuts. We also cooked a full 110 pound pig. Here's the story:

At 8am we all meet at Mike's house to start the fire and heat the rocks. The idea is, that we burn a huge fire down to coals, heat rocks and then dig out the coals, add the pig, rocks, and wet cardboard and a few layers of foil to reflect the heat back. Then we cap the firepit with a large steel plate and let it cook for 4 hours. Unfortunately, it was still raw after about 6 hours, so Mike tried quartering it and barbecuing it and it still didn't work, so we never got to have any pig. Mike was so disappointed, he had spent so much time researching how to cook a pig, not to mention the time we spent cooking it. At the time of this posting, the pig is probably ready by now, but I am too snug in my living room. It was 15 degrees out this morning.

First we had to bust up a pallet for more firewood, and we got some special help:
First we had a normal manageable fire:

By the way, Mike rebuilds engines on heavy equipment, and the cool fire ring he has is a large planetary gear with a broken tooth. He says they just throw this kind of thing away, and he can hook me up! That'll motivate me to get in the back yard!

Adding the pallet made this ginormo-hugantous fire. (yes, that is a technical term)

Next it came time to dress the pig. No, we didn't put a little tuxedo on it, just a spice rub of season salt.

Then the pig had to be hog tied. (Pun DEFINITELY intended!) So it would fit in the fire ring.

Bryce is prepping the cardboard that will soak in the bathtub for a good 20 minutes.

Next the pig is given a jacket of chicken wire, so that it can be pulled from the fire pit with ease.

Mike and Jake are pulling the coals except for a few in the bottom, out of the fire ring. The coals are piled up around the fire ring.

At this point the rocks are heated to 500-700 degrees. They are sitting on the steel plate that will cover the top. The tinfoil on the right, we wrapped around cardboard. Our pig consultant suggested that that piece of cardboard be removed since it would catch fire. We just added the tin foil on top of the coals. Then the pig went in:

After the meat was in, hot rocks were arranged on top and the sides so that the lid would close. This took a little while, since the rocks were quite large. And very, very, hot.

On top of all this went another layer of tin foil, shiny side down, circles of wet cardboard, and the large steel plate:

After we got the plate on it started to heat up and bulge like a pressure cooker. We knew it would hold in the heat, but we added a large steel drum on top to hold it down. We joked that it would pop off and fly over the street, damaging the neighbors house, but it stayed just fine.

Like I said before, the pig only cooked half way by dinner bell, but it was no fault or lack of planning on Mike's part.

Everything else was good, especially the oxtail soup:

Here is the fearless cast and crew:

The Smack is Already Starting to Be Thrown Down...

So Mark at Marks' Black Pot accepted my Dutch Oven Duel and has already purchased the ingredients. His full post complete with smack down is here.

Not to let a challenge go unanswered, I have also purchased my ingredients, and unfortunately, I don't have a funny story about acquiring them, except that I actually just gave my wonderful wife a list since I was cooking a pig all day today.

But the duel is on this Sunday. Read back for full juicy details.

Our little duel has also reached the great IDOS forums here.

Mark, ITS ON! You will be SERVED!

Andy J.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dutch Oven - Angel Passion Cake

Tonight we made Oquirrh Mountain Chili in the dutch oven. I also decided to do a cake in my 10" Lodge Dutch Oven. This is what resulted.

10" Dutch Oven
Bottom: 12-15 coals
Top: 8-10 coals

1 Angel Food cake mix
1 package vanilla pudding*
1 can Minute Maid Light Raspberry Passion Soda
1/2 package frozen mixed berry medley**

Grease Dutch Oven with canola oil. Add both parts of angel food cake mix and pudding powder. Add raspberry soda and whisk until all powder is liquefied. Add the berries. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream if available.

*I added the pudding and it turned into a foamy mess. It tasted good, but didn't have the body of a cake. I don't know if it was the pudding or the berries, so I will probably try a variation of this recipe again.

**I added a full bag of berries, and I think it was too much liquid. I would therefore only use half in the future.

Since it turned out less like a cake, I am giving this recipe two stars. However, it did taste very good.

2 stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Oquirrh Mountain Chili

Yesterday I cooked for 35 people. I used both my 12" standard Dutch Ovens, and my wingman brought a 12" and 14". This was about the 3rd time I used my newest Dutch Oven - "Babe", named after the blue ox, because when I seasoned it, the outside turned blue due to high heat. Unfortunately the patina is still weak and some of breakfast started to stick. I scrubbed it all out gave it a huge lather in oil and cooked this recipe. This chili not only tastes good, and isn't too spicy, but also is a perfect meal to cook to salvage a weak patina. The food isn't too starchy, so it is not going to stick to the pores of the metal. It is really easy to cook as well.

12" Dutch Oven
Serves 4-6
Bottom: 12 coals
Top: 15 coals

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 package chili season
4 cans beans, various (don't use black beans)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Pato Sauce (available on the Latin aisle- it has a duck on the can, get the yellow one.)
Cheese shreds

Saute garlic, onions, and brown the beef. Add the tomato sauce, Pato sauce, beans, and chili seasoning. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the flavors blend. Serve with shredded cheese.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dutch Oven - Mountain Man Breakfast

I usually like to push the envelope and do more 'gourmet' meals in the dutch oven, mostly because I can, and also because the even heating of the cast iron makes it pretty hard to screw it up. This is not what you would call a 'gourmet' meal, but a more traditional dutch oven meal.

I was asked to cook Mountain Man Breakfast for 35 youth and adults for our Church's young men and young women's organizations. I was enlisted help by Mike, our youth special activity coordinator. I couldn't have asked for a better wingman-- he helped out tremendously, and he even brought his dual burner Camp Chef stove. It was the best way to light the coals. Just put them in a chimney and turn on the stove.

Mike (left) and Myself Serving Up Breakfast

I scaled this recipe up tremendously, (in fact we had a full 14" dutch oven left over!) so I will try to scale it back down for you. I used almost a jumbo sized bag of charcoal, but you would need considerably less. Also make note that it was around freezing when we woke up at 6 am to get everything started. A cool ambient temperature will mean you need more heat to cook and may need to cook longer. I will try to write the recipe so it fits a situation in normal (ideal) circumstances and only one pot.

Serves 10
12" Standard Dutch Oven
Bottom: 12-15
Top: 15-18

12 Eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 medium bag of Tater Tots
2 onions
1 bunch green onions
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 package bacon
1 pound ground sausage
1 pound polska kielbasa
1 pound ham
1 pound grated cheese

Cut meat into small pieces and brown with chopped onions (green and yellow), mushrooms and garlic. Pull to one side of the dutch oven. Don't drain the grease. Fill the empty side with tater tots and pull the meat vegetable mixture on top. Fill the other side with tater tots and stir the mixture around. Beat eggs and milk. You can do this in a plastic bag to save dishes. Pour egg milk mixture on top of everything. Sprinkle 1/2 the cheese on top and cover. Let bake for 20-30 minutes and top with remaining cheese allowing it to melt. Serve with ketchup and salsa.

The 14" Dutch Oven that mike brought did not fit in the volcano, so we had to pile coals on and around it to give it enough heat. The volcano did the job so well that we had to keep rotating the dutch ovens down in the volcano to finish them off. We started the coals right at 6 and breakfast was at 8, so we were a little worried at the end. I decided to start one last basket of coals on the stove and I'm glad we did. It provided enough heat for the large 14" dutch oven to finish. It turned out great and we got lots of compliments.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Skookie - Chocolate Cow Pies

The Skookie pan set by Camp Chef is a shallow cast iron skillet, preseasoned with handle 'hot pot' holders and a cookie mix from Lehi Roller Mills. It is an awesome little pan. We've made cookies, mini pizzas, brownies... you could even fry fajitas like they do at Chilis. I won the set by participating in the City Weekly Dutch Oven Cookoff last year. Last Monday for family night we got a redbox movie and made skookie brownies. They looked a lot like cow pies, so I dubbed them "Chocolate Cow Pies"

Serves 4

1 Brownie Mix
1 Cup chocolate chips

Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions and mix in the chocolate chips. Grease the skookie pan with oil and add brownie mix so it initially fills 3/4 of the pan. It will spread out and expand as it cooks. Bake according to package directions, using the 9x9 square pan temperature and time. Watch the time... you don't want to burn them, since they are 1/2 as thin as regular 9x9 pans, I cooked at half the time and they turned out perfect. Let cool and top with hot fudge. Serve warm.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Throwing Down the Cast Iron Gauntlet

A few weeks ago I challenged my friend Mark over at Mark's Black Pot to a Dutch Oven duel. Here is the email I sent him:


I am throwing down the cast iron gauntlet. I hearby challenge ye to a cast iron duel. If ye choose to accept the challenge, here are the terms:

1. I will choose 3 ingredients:
a. Meat
b. Spice
c. Fruit or Vegetable or Starch
2. Ye must cook a one pot dutch oven dish with the 3 ingredients. Ye may add any additional ingredients so long as they do not nullify these terms. (See number 3.)
a. The ingredients must be as common and available as possible. I do not expect ye to backpack through the mountains of Nepal for the rare Joo-Joo Truffle or some such.
b. The ingredients may be up for interpretation. For example, if I say Chicken, ye may use chicken breasts, wings, nuggets, whatever ye wish. If the ingredient specifically states Rib Eye Steak, then there can be no choosing.
i. Although it states the ingredients may be up for interpretation, meat is meat, so ye may not subsitute stock for meat, or eggs for meat, although these items could be added. I will however, consider tofu a 'meat' only because the readers of ye blog may be vegetarian.
ii. No matter who you talk to, ketchup is not a vegetable.
3. It must be delicious.
4. Ye shall hearby document the entire process, including experiences at the grocery store, prepping the dish, cooking the dish, and most importantly, eating the dish.
5. The recipe shall be original in the whole, and the recipe shall be posted for all to see. (see documentation of step 4)
6. Ye shall post the experience on the interwebs for all to see and enjoy.

So, do ye accept the challenge? If so, I would expect to see a counter challenge with a list of my ingredients.

If ye be of valor, here are your ingredients. Choose your weapons wisely.

1. Meat - Pork
2. Spice - Curry
3. Fruit/Veg/Starch - Orange

He answered the challenge valiantly with this response:

This is a GREAT idea. Your challenge ingredients look fun, too. It might be as much as a week or two before I get to cooking it, though. Is that OK?

Here are your ingredients:

a. Meat: Fish
b. Spice: Dill
c. Fruit or Vegetable or Starch: Potatoes

The only downside here is that we really should get together and cook these challenge meals, then sample each other's dishes. I just don't know when we could do this.

Mark Hansen

So in a few weeks I will be hitting up the nearest market for some fish, dill and potatoes, and will post the recipe here. Check The Black Pot as well to see Mark's half of the challenge.

I won't be doing the challenge for a few weeks myself. I've been asked to cook breakfast for 35 hungry youth this Saturday, so I will post the recipe I choose and my experience here.

If any readers have questions or want to request a specific meal to be spotlighted, you may email the author at backporchgourmet [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grill - Southwest Shrimp

Tonight we had a little bit of shrimp left over from the Paad Thai Shrimp recipe, so we decided to grill some shrimps on the barbie. This would go great as an appetizer, or a main dish with a side such as Easy Dutch Oven Rice.

Serves at least 2
1 pound shrimp
1 pouch mesquite spice rub
Spray oil

Thaw shrimp if necessary, and spear them with a skewer. (I used chopsticks because that is the only thing I had... I would use skewers next time!) Dust with mesquite spice rub and spray with "Pam" style oil.

Light the grill (charcoal or gas) and let the grill tines get hot. Place the shrimp skewers on the barbecue and grill 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately with lime and cilantro if you have them.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dutch Oven - Rice Pilaf

This is Part II of the dinner we shared with my parents. Part I was the creamed mushroom pork chops. This is a good side dish that you can use for just about any main dish that has a sauce.

Serves 6

2 Cups Rice
2 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups Water
Pinch Parsley
Dash Onion Powder

10" Standard Dutch Oven
Bottom: 12 coals
Top: 10 coals

Grease Dutch Oven with canola oil. Add rice, chicken stock, water, parsley, and onion powder. Place on heat and cook for 45 - 60 minutes until rice is fluffy, careful not to burn the bottom. Wasn't that easy?

4 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Creamed Mushroom Pork Chops

Tonight, I cooked Dutch Oven and had my parents over to share it with. With the recent addition of a Volcano cooker to my cast iron arsenal, I wanted to push the envelope and cook a full 3 pot meal. The menu consisted of Creamed Mushroom Pork Chops, Rice and Bread.

Creamed Mushroom Pork Chops
Serves 6

6 Pork Chops
Sliced Mushrooms
Green Onions
1 Clove Garlic
2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
Season Salt
Black Pepper
Onion Powder

12" Standard Dutch Oven
Bottom: 12 Coals
Top: 16 Coals

Season the chops with the season salt, black pepper and onion powder. Pat the spices in and massage the meat a little bit. It helps it become more tender. Cut small slits in the edges of the meat to prevent bowing. Grease the dutch oven with canola oil and place it on the coals. When hot, sear the sides of the meat for 3-5 minutes per side. Set aside. Saute the mushrooms, green onions and garlic and scoop out. Add the pork chops again, then put the sauteed vegetables back in on top. Add the cans of soup. You will be very tempted to add more liquid. Don't. If you must, add a little bit of Worcestershire sauce. Adding liquid will turn the sauce into soup. (I know we just added mushroom soup!) When too much liquid is added, it boils the meat, ruining it completely. Cook for 30-45 minutes until the chops are tender. Don't open the lid until 30 minutes has passed, and you don't need to turn the chops. The circulating heat inside the oven will evenly cook both sides of the meat. It is better than grilling in many ways. (I can't believe I said that!) Serve immediately, garnish with fresh parsley if available.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Shrimp Paad Thai

The best thing about outdoor cooking is sharing a meal with friends or loved ones. Gathered around the table, with great food, and great stories- it doesn't get any better than that. Last night we had Eric and Heather over to enjoy some Dutch Oven Paad Thai and some good company.

Serves 6 with leftovers
1 Pound Uncooked Shrimp
1 Package Paad Thai Rice Sticks
Powdered Ginger
Fish Sauce (Available in Asian aisle or Asian Markets)
1 Clove Garlic
1 Bunch Green Onions
1 Pound Fresh Green Beans
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1 Red Onion
Juice from 1 lime
Soy Sauce
Thai Garlic Red Pepper Sauce
Chopped Peanuts
Hot Pepper

12" Standard Dutch Oven
Bottom: 12 coals
Top: 12 coals

Grease the dutch oven with canola oil and warm on the coals. Prep the rice sticks by soaking them in hot tap water per the package directions. Saute the shrimp, adding the curry and ginger 'to taste'. (Smell the dish, and guess how much to add.) Chop and saute the vegetables in the same pan: garlic, green onion, green beans, red pepper, red onion, half of the cilantro. Add a dash or two of fish sauce, soy sauce, and the lime juice. When the vegetables are tender, drain and add the soaked rice sticks. Add the Thai garlic red pepper sauce. This is found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores, or in Asian markets. It is a orange red color, and the top ingredients should be red pepper and garlic. If you can't find this, you can substitute some 'rooster' sauce and some honey. Cover and simmer until the shrimp is cooked and the noodles are 'al dente'. Serve immediately, with chopped peanuts and the remaining cilantro.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!