One of the things I like about the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook is that it is more than just recipes. The book includes a lot of helpful cooking tips, which is beneficial to we cooks because let’s face it, cooking with cast iron is an art and requires skill. Here is a list of guidelines for Dutch oven cooking, plus a handy chart to help you keep the oven at the correct temperature.
1. Prepare your cooking area. You want to choose a site with as much wind shelter as possible. If need be, build up a windbreak around where you will set your pot using patio stones, bricks, or concrete blocks. If you are using a camp Dutch oven in your backyard, be sure to clear the cooking area of twigs and other flammable materials. You may also want to lay out an area of brick to use for your fire site.
2. Determine how many briquettes you’ll need for the temperature you want and get them going in a chimney starter. (See the chart or your recipe.)
3. Place the hot coals. Draw an outline of the bottom of your pot where it will be cooking. Using the chart (or your recipe) as your guide, place the appropriate number of bottom briquettes in a checkerboard pattern within that outline. Set the oven over those coals. Then place the top coals in a checkerboard pattern on the lid of the oven, if your recipe calls for them.
4. Rotate your oven. To maintain an even oven temperature and prevent hot spots, lift and rotate the oven a quarter turn every 15 minutes. Then rotate the lid a quarter turn in the opposite direction. You’ll find that a pair of welding gloves and a lid lifter are necessities for camp cooking.