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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Editors' Choice Gold 2012: Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Ovens

Feed the troops or go gourmet–these pots do both.

by: The Backpacker Editors

Lodge Dutch Oven (Courtesy Photo)
Lodge Dutch Oven (Courtesy Photo)

For more than two centuries, campers have been fueling adventures with meals made in these pioneer pots. Our editors have only been using them for a decade or so, but we’re convinced: For car-, horse-, and boat-camping trips, when weight is no object, nothing beats these ovens for fireside meals. Our enthusiastic test crew has used them to make mashed-potato-topped shepherd’s pie, hearty green chili with chicken, blueberry cobbler, and more. The technique is simple: Build a hot bed of coals (you can use charcoal briquettes, too), set the cauldron on top, and cover the flat lid with more coals.

Sit back and enjoy a beverage while you rotate the pot every 10 minutes or so (to ensure even cooking). Lodge offers a slew of sizes (from 1- to 12-quart); just be sure to get one of the “Camp” models that come with legs for elevating the pot over the coals. Each includes a booklet filled with recipes and maintenance tips; never wash your oven with soap, and oil it before storing to prevent rusting. “It’s a family heirloom,” says one tester. “I’ll be handing this down to my kids someday.” $44-$175; 18 lbs. 10 oz. (12 qt.);

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Dan Dickinson
Aug 18, 2012

From a Braised Beef Potroast To Chicken and Dumplings; Breads, Biscuits, Cakes and Cobblers. The only limitation is your imagination. A couple of years ago I learned a new trick. A 9 to 10 inch springform pan can be set on three little twigs or pebbles in a 12 inch oven and allow you to get real fancy if you'd like. That combination just nicely fits a regular cake mix and the thickness needs about 45 minutes of cooking time which just nicely matches the burn time of your briquettes. I loved the look of surprise when I served up a decorated birthday cake at camp.

Jamie Thomas
Jul 01, 2012

I have grown up using the dutch oven from the use of my father, to the Boy Scouts, and now onto my family. I will always use a dutch oven, there is none better.

Jamie Thomas
Jul 01, 2012

I have grown up using the dutch oven from the use of my father, to the Boy Scouts, and now onto my family. I will always use a dutch oven, there is none better.

John Kemmis
Jun 13, 2012

Lodge is a great cast iron Dutch oven source!

Besides the traditional peach cobbler we cook in them, we roast cornish game hens, stews, egg bakes, and pizza thingys.

Not so sure if your writer(s) used a cast iron, I have never "rotated" the oven for even heat. That is the cast iron distributes the heat evenly, naturally. Maybe the write is confused with aluminum Dutch ovens.

As a preference, I use Crisco or another hard vegetable shortening.

Also, follow the recipe's recommendation on the placement and number of coals. And you can use them in your oven at home too.

David's comments are very good too!

c. dickenson
Jun 12, 2012

They are also perfect for slow cook side dishes. For instance, when doing a whole pig on a spit, or underground, we use one dutch oven for carrots (orange marmalade sauce), and a separate one for potatoes, onions, and various roots. Adds to the outdoor experience, primes the taste buds, etc. And, they stack well if space is tight. Buy larger than you think you'll want!

Scout Dad
Jun 06, 2012

Our Troop has been using dutch ovens on our camps for as long as I can remember. We cook some sort of meal or desert on each campout. The scouts get pretty creative with some of the meals and deserts.

David Verlander
May 24, 2012

Oversimplifies the use of the coals. There need to be relatively far more coals on top and relatively few on the bottom. With too many on the bottom, the food burns. Properly used, you can cook anything in a dutch oven.


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