Dutch Oven Tips
Helpful Dutch Oven Cooking Tips
Many problems can be avoided by watching your ovens while you are cooking so don't be afraid to lift your oven lids to check on your food. If you see steam escaping from around your oven lids then your ovens are to hot. Dutch Ovens act as a sort of pressure cooker steaming the food from the inside out making it tenderer. If you let the steam out of your Dutch Oven, it doesn't help the food and more often than not the top or bottom will be burned.
To keep from generating hot spots which cause uneven browning and burned spots, rotate your Dutch Ovens every 15 minutes by turning the oven 90° in one direction and the lid 90° in the opposite direction. The easiest way to manage this is to lift the lid, rotate the oven 90° clockwise, then put the lid back on so it is facing the same way it was when you lifted it. I usually look at the number cast on the lid when I do this. When rotating the oven properly the number on the lid should stay in the same place during the whole cooking process.
When I lift the lid to rotate my ovens I usually peek inside to see what the food is doing. This way I know if the oven temperature is right or if I need to adjust the number of briquettes."Stacking" your Dutch Ovens is a convenient way to save space and share heat. Stacking is best done when ovens need the same amount of heat on top and bottom. (I.E. - Do not mix and match ovens that require different amounts of heat on top and bottom. Placing an oven with a cake, pie, or rolls in it, on top of an oven loaded with coals on the lid is not a very good idea.) A Dutch Oven lid can be placed over the fire or stove upside down and used as a skillet or griddle. Using the lid in this fashion, you can make virtually error free pancakes and eggs that don't run all over. This is because most lids are shaped like a very shallow bowl so things naturally stay in the center, even if the lid is not level.
Many people have asked me how to turn an upside down cake out of an oven without getting cake everywhere. Here's the method I use: First, let the cake cool for 10 minutes or so in the oven with the lid cracked. Next run a rubber spatula around the inside edge of the oven to loosen the cake. To turn the cake out, first lay a piece of parchment paper across the top of the oven so it lays flat and replace the lid so that it holds the paper in place. Make sure you have an available lid stand resting on your table for the next step. Using gloved hands place one hand on the oven lid and your other hand under the oven and carefully flip the oven over so the cake falls onto the lid. Rest the oven upside down on the lid stand
and tap the bottom and sides of the oven lightly with your hand to make sure the cake didn't stick. Then lift the oven off the lid. The cake will be resting on the parchment lined lid and can be cooled this way or slid off the lid using the parchment paper.