The Dutch Oven – Easy to Use and Fun Too!

Scott Leysath |

Dutch Oven Cooking150 years ago, back when the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was born, you’d be hard pressed to find a decent Teflon pan. And microwave ovens? Forget about it. The Dutch oven was the go-to cookware for most folks, especially for those who spent the better part of their days pioneering the West. They knew well that they could cook anything from breakfast to dessert.

The Dutch oven concept is simple. The “oven” part happens when a measured amount of hot coals are placed both on top of the lid and under the pot. Whatever is in the pot is cooked from all sides, like an oven. The Dutch oven can also be used as you would any stew pot, or fryer, or skillet, or coffee pot. One pot does it all.

I can’t imagine what it was like in the Old West without picturing the scene in “Blazing Saddles” when the group of outlaw cowboys sat around the campfire at night, eating large bowls of beans. You know what happens next. No doubt, the pot of beans would have been started with whatever fat was available, maybe some wild onions and beans that had been soaked in creek water. And after a long day of blazing trails and settling The West, you know it had to be good.

The cast iron Dutch oven is among the relative handful of cookware that has withstood the test of time. Created over 300 years ago by…you guessed it…the Dutch, modern manufacturing hasn’t produced anything that works better and is as versatile as the original product. Properly seasoned cast iron cookware is non-stick, holds its heat and, no matter how badly it has been abused, Dutch Oven Gulasch kochenyou can always bring it back to life. Today, most cast iron pots and skillets come pre-seasoned and ready to fry an egg that will glide off a skillet as easily as any high-dollar pan that requires much more maintenance.

In honor of western pioneers and, of course, Winchester, here’s a Dutch oven recipe that’ll stick to your ribs while you’re out clearing a path for folks who want to move to Hollywood and become famous movie stars. Use the lesser, tougher parts of a deer from the shoulders and shanks. This is a “low and slow” preparation that combines low heat and plenty of time to turn otherwise toothy parts into something pot roast tender.

DEER CAMP STEW

Bacon, fat back or pork belly

Deer meat, trimmed of sinew and cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks

Carrots, celery, onions and any other vegetables on hand – sliced, diced or cut into 2-inch lengths

Beef broth

Potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

  1. Place Dutch oven over an even bed of coals. Once hot, add bacon or other fat until grease is rendered and meaty parts are medium-brown. Add deer meat and brown evenly on all sides. Add a pile of carrots, celery and onions. Add enough beef broth to just cover the contents of the pot. Place lid on top and add 8 to 10 coals to the lid. Allow to cook for 3 to 4 hours, adding coals as needed.
  1. Add potatoes, cover and cook for 30 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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