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How Hot Is Your Dutch Oven?

You are at the campsite and planning dinner. Maybe you are in charge of the whole meal or maybe you only are responsible for dessert (Dutch Oven folks always get dessert). You pull out your recipe book, review the ingredients and prepare to cook. The directions say the oven should be 350° F. How do you know what temperature your oven is? At home you just dial in a number and select BAKE. Those setting are missing on the Dutch oven.

The most often used temperature guide is used to establish an “ideal” oven temperature of 350° F. This guide determines the number of charcoal briquettes used by the size of the oven. Double the diameter of the oven to get the total briquettes. A 12” oven would use 24 briquettes. Instead of placing half the briquettes on the bottom and half on the top, subtract 2 from the bottom and add 2 to the top. Our 12" oven would have 10 briquettes on the bottom and 14 on the top. A variation on this is to place 1/3 of the briquettes on the bottom and 2/3’s on the top. Adding a briquette to the top and bottom increases the temperature 15°-20°.

Another method of testing temperature is using flour. Place a teaspoonful of flour in a small pie pan and put the pan inside a hot Dutch oven.

A third method used by Duane Dinwiddie is the “ring” method.

All his cooking has 4 temperatures: slow, medium, hot, and very hot. For a 12-inch oven:

The final method is pretty unscientific but it has worked for me. Place you hand about 3” above the Dutch oven and count backwards from 450° by 25's- 450, 425, 400, 375, etc. When you have to move your hand, that’s about the temperature.

All these recommendations are guidelines. You will develop a knack of knowing the temperature of your oven and will make adjustments. Good eating!!

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