DO questions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-02-2018   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 58
DO questions

I am planning on bringing the dutch oven out on trips this year. What kind of charcoal do you all general bring? Match light or standard charcoal and bring lighter fluid? Also what is the preferred surface to place the bottom coals and/or start the coals. I don't want to sequester the fire-pan to DO cooking and am wondering if there is another tried and suggested method. If this thread gets hi-jacked into a DO recipe discussion I won't be too disappointed....

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Old 04-02-2018   #2
Eagle, Colorado
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 41
I use natural lump.... lit with paper and a spritz of vegi oil.... I use a 1:1 top to bottom you really don't need that much, something in the line of 8-10 pieces. I use this same formula while trailer camping.....
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Old 04-02-2018   #3
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 491
I use a circular cake pan to make a mini fire pan for the dutch oven.

You can get them in many sizes at a hobby store, like Joann's or Hobby Lobby or restaurant supply. They are used for layer cakes.

I found two nesting ones that just a bit bigger than my DO. I use one for DO cooking and one for lighting charcoal. I use Kingsford briquettes, exclusively and I go to great pains to keep them bone dry. Inferior brand briquettes or the MatchLight ones burn too fast or inconsistently.

I light them using a chimney and some waste paper. The two pan system lets me keep a supply of hot coals in one pan and the DO cooking away on the other. I keep a kitchen tongs, heavy leather glove, cheap pliers (lid lifter)
and other essential items in the same kit. The whole mess fits nicely into a 5 gal bucket I shortened to size. (purchase a new bucket + lid, cut off the bottom leaving a 1" rim, then slide the cut off down the inside to the height desired. Seal seam with hot glue. A heat gun or hair dryer will soften the plastic enough to make stuff fit)

other DO tips...
- parchment paper liners make cleanup super easy, if needed at all. Buy them at Cabelas or cut your own from rolls of baking paper found in the kitchen aisle of any major grocery store.
- pre package ingredients in large ziplock bags, use bag as mixing bowl.
- I prefer flat bottom DO's + a trivet. They pack flatter and I can use the DO on my camp stove.
- I really like aluminum DO's for travel. I use the cast iron ones at home but prefer light weight aluminum in the boat.
- linseed oil (flax seed oil) makes the best seasoning. Seasoning works on both cast iron and alum.
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Old 04-02-2018   #4
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,182
I usually use the Match Light stuff (brand doesn't really matter) out of convenience. It doesn't always work though, so a bit of starter fluid isn't a bad thing to bring. I'll admit I'm not a big fan of the longevity of the Match Light stuff...seems to turn to ash faster and not burn as hot or as long. Fairly easy to toss a few extra briquettes on if they don't last long enough though. I think Kingsford makes longer lasting ones and higher heat ones that I've wanted to try but haven't yet.

If there is a blaster on the trip, you can use that to start standard charcoal without starter fluid too. Fold it up, bring it over to where you are setting up your DO station and blast the crap out of it till it seems lit.

Best way I've seen to make sure every piece is fully lit, is a charcoal chimney. A buddy of mine has one that folds up and goes in with the rest of the fire tools inside the firepan when it gets packed up. Fill the chimney up, take it over to the stove (blaster or standard both work), light the stove and set the chimney over the burner. Come back a few minutes later and all the charcoal you started is perfectly lit. If you need it ASAP leave it on for a few more minutes....really accelerates the time it takes to have the charcoal ready to cook with.

Not gonna weigh in too much on how many charcoal to put on/under...but I do know that it will be different based on Aluminum vs. Cast Iron. Every DO and recipe will need it a bit different, so experiment to find out which works for you. Generally do a ring evenly spaced around the whole top plus a few in the middle of the top, and 6-10 underneath depending on the dish. Also, bringing a cake pan or other pan to set the charcoal in so you don't have to break out the firepan or hog it for DO cooking is nice.
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Old 04-02-2018   #5
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 491
A simple home made collapsible charcoal chimney can be fabricated out of some vent pipe. I used two sections of 4" pipe that form about an 8" dia. chimney when split open and assembled face to face.

materials needed...

1) 2 pieces of 4" dia. stove pipe, about 12" long. Open them up at the folded seam and re-assemble end to end to make a 2 piece unit of larger diameter. The seams can be opened and the two sections lay flat

2) Make eight equally spaced holes around the perimeter about 2 1/2" above the bottom rim. I used hammer and nail. Cut some heavy wire to length and thread criss-cross fashion thru the holes to make a platform to hold the charcoal grate. I added air vents along the bottom rim using an old fashioned can opener

3) I bent some stiff steel wire into a spiral shape to act as a grate, open spaces about 3/8" apart and sized to fit snug inside.

4) I then fashioned a handle out of bent wire and a section of 4" long piece of scrap wood. I drilled a hole thru the center of the wood, length wise. Slipped this over the middle of two 14" long pieces of wire and bent the ends out to look like this >=< Next I added a 1/2" long 90 degree bend to the 4 ends,
these will be used to attache the handle. Adjust your bends so the wire forms
two bi-pod supports, one top & bottom.

5. This whole mess is assembled with some big hose clamps acting as tension rings. The 90 degree bends at the end's slip under the hose clamps to attach the handle
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Old 04-02-2018   #6
90Duck's Avatar
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 422
cheap alternatives

I use a metal automotive oil drain pan for the DO to sit in while cooking, balanced up on three rocks. Fresh briquettes can be fed in out of the adjacent fire pan. I prefer regular briquettes with some starter fluid to get it going. I also use a homemade starter chimney made out of an old Folgers coffee can. You remove the top and bottom, then use one of those little openers that makes a triangle shaped puncture to make a series of vent holes around the bottom. The can can be flattened for packing and reopened again numerous times - I've used the same one for years.
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Old 04-02-2018   #7
Panama Red's Avatar
glenwierd, Co.
Paddling Since: 05'
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 271
Metal oil pans from Tractor supply. 20-25$ ea. Don’t buy a 3 leg trivet if your DO has 3 legs cut them off with a angle grinder w/ cut off wheel and get a 4 legged trivet. I’ve seen to many leaning towers past the point of no return. Pizza, French Toast bread pudding, lasagna, fruit turnovers, chocolate cake skip the DO liners and buy a roll of parchment or waxed paper clean up and transition to desert is quick and easy.
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Old 04-02-2018   #8's Avatar
lafayette or Grand Lake, CO., Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1,061
Temperature vrs. charcoal bricks chart. This is a good starting point.
I also lift and turn the DO 180 degrees and set back down to kind of even out the cooking if you have a breeze coming from one direction and do the same with the lid. I do most my baking in cake pans so I can take out a batch of biscuits, corn bread or whatever and start a new one in a manner of seconds
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File Type: pdf DO cooking temps charcoal.pdf (603.2 KB, 91 views)
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Old 04-02-2018   #9
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,176
I'm simpler than most of you, I light coals on the grate over a fire. If no fire then I use lighter fluid, but there is usually a fire going. I set my DO on aluminum foil on the ground. Never used liners, but I can see bringing parchment paper from now on - that might be handy, though I wonder if you loose some of the flavor transfer from the dutch's seasoning?
"If you dont do it this year, you will be one year older when you do"
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Old 04-02-2018   #10
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C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,778
I use kingsford and tiki fuel. Not the kind of tiki fuel you get at home cheap-o, but the kind you get from the diesel pump. I use the lid from my fire pan to cook them on and put rocks or wood under the lid to get it off the ground so you don't scorch the soil. On big trips we will stack a couple of 12"er with the main dish in them, then stack a couple of 10"ers next to them, full of desert fixins. Fire pan lid holds them all, right next to the fire pan that I started the charcoal in. Once done cook'in, I pour all the ashes on the lid back into the fire pan....along with the hot coals. Of coarse, everything is kept on the fire blanket.

The guru that taught me about Dutch ovens, gave me this simple formula for how many coals to use. Diameter of oven x 2 = number of coals to use to make the oven 350 degrees. Add or subtract coals at 12 1/2 degrees per coal. Put 2 more coals on the top than you do on the bottom from the total number of coals you use.

Example 12" dutch oven at 350 equals 24 coals. Put 10 coals on the bottom and 14 on top. For an 10" Dutch oven, it's 8 on the bottom and 12 on top.

Spin lid seperate from the oven on the coals for more even cooking temps. Half a turn each every 20 minutes or so.

No peeking until you can smell it cooking. Remember, each peek adds time to the finished product.

Here is an easy desert you can make. Take a Hinds Super Moist cake mix. Substitute the oil or butter that the recipe on the package calls for, with sour cream. Mix all ingredients and pour into the dutch oven. Take a can of your favorite pie filling and pour it in the middle and lightly stir it into the mix. Put the coals on the oven using my formula above. In about an hour....or when you can smell it.....get out a tooth pick and check to see if it's cooked. Eazy Peazy A 10" Dutch oven is the perfect size for one cake mix as described above. Good luck.

Favorite cake and filling combo's are.
White cake mix with strawberry or cherry filling
Chocolate with strawberry filling
Lemon with red raspberry or blackberry filling
Spice cake with apple...great for mornings too.
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