Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dutch Oven - Chuck Wagon Chicken

This is pretty easy--just dump in the ingredients and bake. Since I made bread dough this morning, I wanted something easy for dinner. I think I've hit a Dutch oven equilibrium. I don't always get to cook every weekend, but I still enjoy doing it. Lately, we've been very busy. With Halloween this month, I've had parties the last two weekends, and Dutch oven or grilling wasn't on the menu. I stopped doing the 'Wordless Wednesday' posts, mostly because I figured the readers of this blog would prefer quality over quantity.

10" Dutch oven
350 Degrees
60 minutes
4 Servings

4-6 small potatoes
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pouch dry onion soup mix
1 cup water

Cut potatoes in quarters and lay in a 10 inch Dutch oven. Add 1/2 the onion soup. Add chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle remaining soup mix on top. Add cream of mushroom soup on top and add water. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Sunflower Oat Bread

I decided to try bread again, and it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. First of all, I scoured the net trying to find a recipe that I could do in one day; I'd prepare the dough before church, and bake it when we came home. Mark's Black Pot has a lot of great ideas, but a lot of his breads are sourdough, and I don't have a start in my fridge. So I cracked open my bread machine cookbook. Before you all run away, I want to say that while I was tempted to at least do the dough in the machine, I adapted this recipe and did it all by hand. First, I made the mistake of activating the yeast in too hot of water. It was only warm to the touch, but I'm not microwaving any more yeast starts. I think I killed those poor defenseless micororganisms. Next I put all the other ingredients in a bowl and mixed them, adding the yeast water. This gave me a sticky dough, so I added a little more flour and kneaded. I probably didn't knead enough. We will refer to this as mistake number two. Next time, I will knead until it passes the windowpane test. (and I will actually do the windowpane test. Read Mark's squidoo lens here for more info.) Then I put it in a bowl, covered it with a towel and put it next to my cold window, where I thought that magically I would get some heat waves and it would rise. Yes, this is mistake number three. We went to church. I came back, and to my utter shock, it had not risen a bit! So, I punched and folded and added the oats and seeds, marked with an *insert your initial here*, and tossed it in the oven for *insert your name here* and me. I baked it for 350 using the 3 over 3 under rule-- 3 coals more than the diameter of the lid on top, and three under below. This doesn't work for the volcano, because it gets hotter. So I burned the bottom. It still tasted good. I rated this a 3 and called it a flop, but it was a good learning experience. I can't wait to try it again next week. Hopefully, I'll learn from my mistakes.

12" Dutch oven
350 Degrees
60 minutes
4 Servings

1 1/3 cup water
1 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbs butter, softened
3 tbs maple syrup
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup rolled oats

Warm water and mix with yeast. Set aside to activate. Mix all other ingredients except sunflower seeds and oats. Knead and let raise 3 hours. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

3 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dutch Oven - Bacon Wrapped Trout

This is an old recipe, but a good one. We caught these beautiful trout last summer and I saw this photo while I was cleaning up my drive. We drove to the Granddaddy Lakes trailhead early in the morning, hiked our float tubes in, fished for 6 hours and hiked out. My Dad skunked us all with about 27, and I got a shameful 19. I kept these three. Since we fly fished, it was easy to catch and release. Every fisherman needs to do his part to conserve our resources.


10"-12" Dutch oven
350 degrees
30-40 minutes

Trout, cleaned and beheaded
Lemon, cut into wedges
Green onions

Clean and behead trout. Shake pepper on the inside of the body cavity and stuff with lemon wedges. Wrap fish in bacon and lay in 10"-12" Dutch oven. Lay green onions whole in oven for flavor. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until fish is tender. Discard bacon, unless you like fishy bacon. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grill - Bill's Famous Bar Bee Que Chicken

I cooked this on the 17th, but hadn't had a chance to post yet. This is my Dad's famous chicken recipe. It's really tasty, and easy. Dad's original recipe didn't call for the rub--he would just do two bastings, but I had some on hand so I tried it.


Chicken breasts
McCormick Barbecue rub
Barbecue sauce

Rub chicken in barbecue rub. Grill 5 minutes on a side. Baste both sides with barbecue sauce and finish on medium heat.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Grill - Italian Chicken Sandwiches

This is an easy marinade- your acid, sugar and flavor base are already mixed in the salad dressing, so just dump the bottle into the chicken bag and refrigerate overnight.


20 Minutes
4 Servings

Chicken breast
Italian Salad Dressing

Bread, toasted

Marinate chicken breasts in Italian salad dressing and pound flat with a meat tenderizer. Grill on high for 10 minutes on a side. Cut chicken in half and make sandwiches.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Primer: Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

People worry too much about this, and I think this is one aspect of Dutch oven cooking that scares a lot of people back indoors. It really is easy if you do it right. A well kept patina will lead to years of successful Dutch oven cooking. A bad patina, rancid oil, and improper maintenance can not only ruin your Dutch ovens, make your food taste gross, but it could actually kill you. Food poisoning is no light matter, but use the right techniques and you'll be safe.

Lets examine how the non-stick coating on your Dutch oven works. When new from the factory, the metal is susceptible to rust and water damage. So the factory coats the oven in wax or gross petroleum based grease. (Bear in mind we are talking about non-factory seasoned ovens.) This packing wax or grease protects the oven during shipping and the time spent on the shelf, but it needs to come off when you pull it out of the box. How do you get the grease off? Two ways. 1. Scrub with a green scrubby and soapy water. Repeat until the metal no longer feels waxy. Don't use steel wool or other abrasive pads. 2. Put it in the dishwasher. Set the washer to a pots and pans scouring setting and put nothing else in the dishwasher. Load it upside down so the water drains out. Wash both the oven and the lid. Either way, dry the oven and lid with a cotton towel that doesn't leave a lot of lint behind.

After you get the grease or wax off, the oven is susceptible to rust, so don't leave it out, or you'll have an orange oven in no time. What is a patina, anyway? A patina is a food safe oil that is burned into the oven. Cast iron is cast into molds made of sand, and has lots of little bumps and pits. Look at a Dutch oven with a hand lens- bumpier than our moon! The patina is burnt oil that fills the holes, cracks and gaps in the iron finish. This creates a slick surface so food doesn't stick... Better than Teflon, right? So how do you get a patina? A few ways, with the same goal in mind.

Lets start off with the worst way. Your home oven. Capable of temperatures near 500 degrees, and conveniently available to all with racks for placing the cookware on. Why is this the worst method? Because your house (or apartment, as I did my first time) will fill with smelly, gross, yucky smoke. If it's all you have, open all your windows, and you'll still probably have to fan your smoke alarms as I did my first time.

A step up is the barbecue grill. Capable of higher temperatures, conveniently situated outside, and at waist height. Also has convenient racks. You'll probably have to do your lid and oven separate.

My favorite method, is to do it in a fire pit. Directly in the coals, it has the heat potential of 800 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and does a great job.

What you will need for any method:

Heat resistant gloves
Cooking oil (don't use spray oils)
A heat source (see above)
cotton rags that don't shed much lint

Step one: Scrub the packing grease off. (See above)

Step two: Thoroughly oil all surfaces in and out wiping with rags.

Step three: Build heat up to the hottest possible. On an oven, set to the highest temperature on the dial. For a grill, set the flame highest or build a hot fire. For the fire ring, burn a lot of hardwood and rake the coals to the center. Keep a side fire going.

Step four: Invert the Dutch oven on the heat source. For the oven and grill, just put it upside down on the racks. For the fire, you'll need a way to raise it about an inch above the coals- we used 3 bricks arranged radially. This allows you to get the iron out without losing a hand.

Step five: Wait. For the oven and grill, you may need to wait 30 minutes or more. The tell tale is when the smoke stops coming from the iron. Directly in the coals, you only need wait 15 minutes. See why it's my favorite?

Step six: Remove iron from heat and wipe out. Wear gloves- fire is hot.

Step seven: Repeat whole process (except scrubbing) at least 3 times. More is better, especially with the lower temperature methods.

Step eight: Cook something in it, with a lot of fat. Bacon, roasts, any meat really. Don't cook starch foods at first. The patina is weak initially, so you want to strengthen it before giving it something that sticks as bad as starch.

After cooking each time, a lot of people wipe an amount of oil on the oven to reseason it. I don't do this, because the oil will either go rancid, or get tacky, and won't give a good patina. If your going to oil after cooking, heat up the iron either in some coals or on a large gas stove and then add the oil. Heating it up will bake it in the pores and also kills any germs that are living there.

The best way to get the best patina, is to use your iron often! Get a skillet and put it in your kitchen- nothing beats a fried egg when cooked in iron! And look ma, no Teflon flakes in my food! If the patina flakes off, it's just harmless burnt oil. No nasties!

What's your experience with seasoning iron?

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dutch Oven - Chicken Lentil Soup

This is the second in what seems to be the soup series at the back porch gourmet. Soup and sweaters are the best things about fall. I love soup and I love sweaters. Something about their warming properties is just amazing. A good cup of herbal tea, soup and a sweater is probably the best thing about fall. Oh, the leaves are nice too.

12" Dutch oven
350 degrees
60 minutes

Chicken, cubed
Onion powder
Garlic powder

Braise chicken with spices. Add remaining ingredients. Boil until potatoes are tender. Serve immediately.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Split Pea Soup

Last week, my buddy Richard and his wife came over for dinner, and Richard stayed until late- we were seasoning his cast iron in our fire pit. I'll post up a primer on how to do this. It's easy, but I didn't get any pictures of the process.

This is a great soup because it only takes an hour, and warms you up on a cold day.

12" Dutch oven
60 minutes
350 degrees

split peas
ham, cubed
celery, chopped
chicken bullion
onion powder
garlic powder

Braise ham in oil. Add fresh parsley and celery. Add water and remaining ingredients. Boil until peas and lentils are soft, and rice is cooked.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Guest Post - Mark's Black Pot Publishes Tome on Breadmaking

Mark Hansen over at Mark's Black Pot has been a great friend of mine since the dawn of the internet. A few weeks ago I asked the great sage if he could give me some advice on a good sandwich bread. What resulted is a veritable tome on bread making that will grace the halcyon halls of the University of Baking for millennia. Go check it out! It's a great read, if not awesome.

Available for your enjoyment here.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

*Photo courteously ripped off Mark's Website. All rights reserved to the owner.