Don't Underestimate The Power Of Your Dutch Oven When Camping

Dutch oven over open flame
Dutch oven over open flame - Hussmann/Shutterstock

By nature, camping is a minimalistic endeavor. Unless you're glamping, you won't bring nearly as much as you're used to having at home, and this includes most of your usual appliances and utensils. So what should be on your "needs" list from the kitchen? For the most versatile item, look no further than a Dutch oven.

Dating back to just over three centuries ago, the Dutch oven was simply designed as a thick-walled, and therefore heat-retaining, pot. Because of this feature, it's best to cook low and slow when using this cooking vessel. There are two main types of Dutch ovens: home and camping. The vibrant colors of brands like Le Creuset make a home Dutch oven a beautiful companion for any kitchen, but the enamel coating that provides those colors is not recommended for campfire cooking. The bottom of a home Dutch oven is also flat, making it difficult to balance on coals or embers in the wild.

A camping Dutch oven, on the other hand, is perfect for open-flame cooking. The durable cast iron oven, which comes in a plain black color, can handle the harsh conditions of a campfire, and the small feet on the bottom make it easy to place right in the middle of the heat. When camping with a Dutch oven, also be sure to bring hefty potholders, as the pot gets scorching hot and can be heavy.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

Why Bring A Dutch Oven To Your Campsite?

Dutch oven suspended over campfire
Dutch oven suspended over campfire - Jason Caulfield-ware/Shutterstock

Overall, while the Dutch oven is a hefty item, weighing anywhere from four to 18 pounds, it's a worthwhile investment to drag along to the campsite — the options for mouthwatering meals and delectable desserts are almost limitless. First, the Dutch oven is a master of single-pot meals. From stews, chilis, and soups to casseroles and pasta bakes, it allows you to conserve your cleaning water at the campsite by being an all-in-one vessel. You may need to bring a few extra ingredients to make a delicious meal, like this old-fashioned beef stew, but the quick cleanup more than makes up for it.

If you're cooking something that has to simmer like the stew, do consider bringing a tripod for hanging the pot while in use to ensure even cooking. As well, when cooking with a Dutch oven, keep in mind that the temperature will drop over time and will require the charcoal be replaced every so often.

Dutch ovens are also great for baking, whether it be sourdough bread, a pineapple upside down dump cake, an ooey-gooey cobbler, or even a fancy mac and cheese. Remember, it's called an oven for good reason; it's only begging to be used as such. For bread specifically, the tight-fitting lid of the shallow pot is perfect for crafting bakery-level baked goods, steaming the inside to perfection and crafting the perfect golden brown crust at the end once the lid is removed.

Read the original article on Tasting Table