KITCHEN ON WHEELS: DUTCH OVENS
I'm willing to bet that some of you received a Dutch oven as a gift this holiday season. If so congratulations! You are in for a treat. Nothing beats slicing into a freshly baked loaf of bread that you've just taken off the fire. This article will give you some of the basics of your Dutch oven and also a few recipes that you can practice so you can "WOW" your camping friends.
CARING FOR YOUR DUTCH OVEN: SEASONING
First, let's go over a few basics. Cast iron Dutch ovens must be seasoned before they can be used. If you received an aluminum Dutch oven, it does not require seasoning. Seasoning is heated oil that is bonded to the metal through a process called polymerization. This will prevent your Dutch oven from rusting and it forms a non-stick cooking surface.
Although using vegetable oil is preferred, other oils can be used. Whichever oil you choose, you will need to find that oil's smoke point. A chemical reaction occurs at that smoke point, so the oil will bond to your pan. You can reference this article to determine the smoke point of the oil you'd like to use. The article will also tell you if that oil has a neutral flavor or not.
To season a new Dutch oven (or any cast iron), scrub the pan with warm, soapy water. Since you are seasoning the pan for the first time, it is ok to use soap. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Secondly, apply a very thin layer of the oil of your choice, inside and out. Lastly, place your Dutch oven upside down in the oven, with either a large baking sheet or foil on the bottom of the oven for easy clean up. Bake at 450° - 500°F (230° - 260°C) for one hour. If you are using an oil with a lower or higher smoke point - adjust the baking temperature. Allow your Dutch oven to cool and that's it! You've now seasoned your cookware. Note: You can do this on an outdoor grill if you can accurately measure the temperature. This may be preferred because there will be smoke. If you do this in your kitchen, be sure to crack some windows and keep your kitchen exhaust fan on during this process.
CARING FOR YOUR DUTCH OVEN: WASHING