In this part of the Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking series, we are going to talk about where to cook with a dutch oven. The answer to that question might seem obvious, until you start to think about it. After all, in order to cook with a dutch oven, you need some place where you can put 15-20 coals and put a dutch oven on top of those coals. You'll also want to be able to put some coals on top. That's how you cook with a dutch oven.
So, do you have someplace where you can have 15-20 coals going, without causing damage to the ground or to whatever you put them on? If you are lucky enough to have a fire-pit in your backyard, then you are set. You could wait until you go camping and use a fire-pit there.
But what if you want to cook right in your own backyard? Here are a number of suggestions for you to consider. Which solution you use, will depend on what you have available to you and how much you want to spend.
If you have a charcoal grill that would hold a dutch oven, that might work for you. I've done that. I took out the grates, started the charcoal, and set the dutch oven down inside the grill. If you do try this method, make sure the grill isn't top heavy or unstable. You don't want a huge problem on your hands if that grill were to tip over.
Dutch Oven Table
Another solution is to use a dutch oven table. This is a metal table that is built for holding dutch ovens and the coals that are used to heat them. They are a great solution, and work really well. At a recent dutch oven cook-off that I attended everyone was using a dutch oven table. The only downside of the table is that there is a cost. And if you are just getting started, you might not want to shell out $60-$80 more to get a dutch oven table. But if you don't mind doing that, a dutch oven table is a great solution. Click here to get more information about dutch oven tables.
Another possible solution is the Volcano Grill. This unique, versatile cooking device can be used with charcoal, propane, or wood. It has a patented heat chamber that concentrates the heat. 12-15 coals will last for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. That's perfect for a dutch oven.
The outside of the Volcano Grill is cool to the touch, so will work well in your backyard. The legs keep it up off the ground, so that will help protect whatever you have it set on as well.
Another advantage of the Volcano Grill is that not only can you use it to cook with a dutch oven, you can also grill with it, and cook in a variety of other ways. Check out the Volcano Grill with use with your dutch oven.
So if you don't want to get a dutch oven table or a Volcano grill, what's a cheaper solution?
I tried using a old roasting pan bottom, set up on some bricks on my lawn. They worked great, except for one big problem: the heat from the coals was too hot for the grass underneath, even with the pan on the bricks. The grass turned brown and died. Definitely not what you want. I suspect it would have been ok on top of concrete, so if you have a concrete area this could work for you. Putting the pan up higher would likely also have worked, such as putting it on cinder blocks.
I was interested in what others did, so I polled the subscribers to my newsletter and got lots of great ideas. Just make sure that you keep the coals far away enough from grass so that the grass is not burnt and that you keep the coals away from flammable material. Here are some of the suggestions that I got:
- One person used on old satellite dish, centered on three bricks (I would just do this over concrete, or make sure the bottom of the dish is high enough above the grass)
- Someone else used a garbage can lid on top of an old metal milk crate
- Many people said that they used feed trays from a local farm supply store. Buy two, invert one and place on the ground and set the other one on top of it. These have enough depth to keep the coals off the ground and to keep the coals contained. Many other people said that they did something similar with metal oil change pans. Get two, invert one and put the other one on top of it. You could get just one and put it on top of some cinder blocks. There other such utility type pans as well, that would work just like the feed trays or oil pans. Visit a local farm supply store, hardware store, or auto parts store, and see what you can find.
- If you have a place in your yard that you could dedicate to doing charcoal, that might also work. Make sure you check your local ordinances and provide the proper clearance if you do this method. Clear out the area, make a circle of bricks and cook right on the ground.
- One person that he digs a hole in his garden, puts the coals in the hole and sets the dutch oven in the hole. When he was done cooking, he just filled the hole with dirt to put all the coals out.
There are many other possibilities if you put your mind to it and use your imagination. Just remember that hot coals can do damage to vegetation, and to cement, so make sure that you provide adequate protection to what is underneath when you cook with your dutch oven.
That's it for this article. If you have any questions or other suggestions, please be sure to post them in the comments below.
Next time we'll talk about what you need to know about using coals to cook with your dutch oven. What you do with the coals is one of the secrets to making everything you cook in your dutch oven turn out just right.
See below for all the articles in this series on Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking:
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - What to Look For in a Dutch Oven
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Buying a Dutch Oven
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Seasoning a Dutch Oven
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Where to Cook With a Dutch Oven
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Cooking with a Dutch Oven
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Dutch Oven Accessories
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Easy Dutch Oven Recipes
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Cleaning a Dutch Oven
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Dutch Oven Cookbooks
- Getting Started with Dutch Oven Cooking - Online Dutch Oven Resources
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