Dutch ovens are cast iron pots used for a myriad of baking, stewing and cooking purposes. Bringing a Dutch oven along on a backpacking trip would be disastrous as they weight up to 20 pounds each. If you are camping by horse-packing, RV or other means of transportation, Dutch oven cooking is a rewarding way to get mouths watering around the campfire. You can use the Dutch oven for most meals and desserts.
Once a bed of coals is glowing at the fire, whipping up a fresh batch of baked biscuits is a simple affair with a Dutch oven. Before heading out into the backcountry, mix 8 cups of flour, a half cup of powdered milk, 3 tsp. of baking powder and between 2 and 4 tsp. of salt (to taste) in a Ziploc bag. In the morning, add 2 to 3 cups of water to the bag, stir until the dough is pasty, then use a coffee mug to scoop up balls of the pasty dough. Add a light coating of oil to the oven. Add the dough balls, put the lid on the oven and put over the coals for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Serve hot and fresh with morning coffee and you will be a rock star.
Make a batch of bacon-y potatoes with this easy recipe to serve with or as dinner. In a 12-inch Dutch oven, add 1 cup of chopped and shredded onion, 1/2 pound bacon, 3 to 6 diced cooking potatoes, 1 green pepper, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and 1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of broccoli soup. Put the lid on the oven and simmer the dish for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the bacon is fully cooked. Serve hot as a side or main dish.
On cold rafting trips (perfect for using a Dutch oven, as there is lots of packing space in rafts) nothing warms a boater like a batch of hot fruit cobbler fresh from the Dutch oven. Be sure to make this outside of bear country as the aroma is powerful and enticing. Put 2/3 stick of butter into a warmed Dutch oven. Add 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2/3 cup sugar, 3/4 cup milk (use powdered if necessary), 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/4 full vanilla bean and 3 cups of frozen or fresh berries. Cook for 30 minutes then top with 2 cups of fresh granola mixed with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Serve with hot drinks.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.