Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dutch Oven Tips/ Volcano Stove

I've noticed when I write about Dutch Oven cooking here on the Happy Camper's Blog that a lot of readers tune in to read what I've written. With that in mind I've decided to do a series of articles on Dutch Oven Tips, or Short Cuts.

The International Dutch Oven Society has some very specific rules for their competitive cook-offs and all of these short cuts are sure to get you disqualified. These short cuts are for those camping trips to the local State Park or the back yard cooks, especially those lazy, beer loving males.

Let's start with the beginning, the fire. I use the Volcano Stove made in Salt Lake City. This stove adds a measure of safety to your burning charcoals by containing them. Being the lazy guy I am, I used the stove for easy clean-up. The day after I just shake the ashes out of the stove and put it away.

I set the volcano on these blocks of wood, so that I don't have to bend over so far the reach my oven. The fourth block off to sit is where I set the hot lid while serving or checking the food.

The Volcano can be adjusted with three thumb screws to accommodate a #10 or #12 Dutch oven. Here I'm backing off the screws for the #12 Dutch Oven.

Here I'm tightening the three set screws to hold the #10 Dutch Oven.

If you use a larger Dutch Oven, say a #14 the oven will have to sit on top of the stove and a lot farther from the bottom hot coals.

Another option of the Volcano Stove is a damper. You can actually set this damper and use less charcoals for cooking by extending the burn time of the coals to two hours.

The next option is called a wind ring. We spend the majority of our time camping in Nevada, we love the "Sunny & 80" weather and no bugs. The price we have to pay is a lot of valley winds. This wind ring is added on those days to slow down the burning of the charcoal on the top of the oven. Back in the Mid-west we've used foil and clothes pins to cover the wind ring and keep the rain out.

The last option is the grill which fits on the top of the Volcano Stove so that you can use it as any charcoal grill or stove top.

I'd like to point out that we have been using this Volcano Stove for the last eight years. The product is still available and many improvements have been made in the eight years, so google the Volcano Stove to see what the current models are all about.

Ok, let's get it started. Lay a paper towel in the bottom of the oven and add the proper number of charcoals to cook your dinner. Squirt on the lighter fluid, the paper towel will keep the lighter fluid from puddleing in the bottom of the grill. Try to keep the charcoals in a single layer. Open the draft all the way and light the fire.

Here is where you need to be careful, the charcoals, with draft take off, well like a volcano. Be sure your Volcano Stove is not under the awning of your RV when you light it!!!

So how many charcoals should I use? Tune in next time for some tricks and answers.