Shopping for A Dutch Oven and…

OK, you’ve seen that I’m on an outdoor cooking kick lately. Particularly looking at baking bread.

So after some “experiments” I decided that the “best short term fix” is to just bake bread in my Dutch Oven. I have a Lodge 12 inch that I bought a decade or so back and rarely used. (Turns out I’m the only one in my family who likes to go camping and I don’t need a 12 inch dutch oven for “just me”…)

OK I dug it out of the garage. One or two small rust spots. Washed off the dust, lint, and tiny bit of rust. Dried it. Found out a standard bread pan fits nicely inside (so I can make bread that fits in the toaster when sliced). Oiled it up with highly unsaturated oil, into the electric oven at 375 F (open windows to let smoke and smell out) and bake for 2 hours…

Along the way, realize that “Gee. If I’m going to fire this up to bake bread, I could just stack a smaller one or two on top to roast a chicken or make stew and vegetables…” So decide I want a smaller one or two to add to the stack. I’ll be using the same ‘brick base’ that I’m using for the POB BBQ and the G70 Stove to hold the bottom coals. Eventually I plan to put a ‘brick surround’ around the Dutch Oven so less coals cook the same temperature.

Initially, I found a nice site that listed approximate temperatures for a given number of coals:

A ring around the top and the bottom is about 325 to 350 degrees.
Remove every other briquette underneath to make 300 degrees.
Add a second ring to the top to make 375 degrees.

It lists several other methods as well, but that’s the one I’m starting with. As I want 325 F to 350 F, that “one ring” is very easy to remember. Adding a brick surround and finding out what coals to use then will come after I have mastered the first step…

As it is raining tonight, I’ll not be able to use it for a couple of days. Time for an “order” to arrive… So off I go to WalMart and Amazon to find price and shipping and all on smaller Dutch Ovens.

At Walmart, I found a brand that even as a notch in the edge that aligns with a matching notch in the lid for inserting a thermometer. I’m in heaven! I can actually know what the temperature is inside! So adding that brick surround need not be trial and error, it can be build and measure. (I eventually ordered a 6 qt one, and I’m pondering the 12 quart… but it’s large enough for small turkeys so maybe not best for my first trials.. even if it is only $58 at the moment.)

But before buying, I figure I ought to check The Competition…

So I’m at Amazon and, well, the Dutch Oven isn’t quite what I was looking for, but it is interesting….

This is NOT photoshopped or in any way modified. Just a straight “print screen” and paste into Gimp. Save as.

At Amazon shopping for a Dutch Oven

At Amazon shopping for a Dutch Oven

So I’m noticing that the right most Dutch Oven is looking a bit, er, um, “unusual”… I was thinking more along the lines of an 8 inch or smaller, but maybe a 10 inch would do….

So I click on the link, just to see if it was an error on the loading of the search page…

The Dutch Oven Ad

The Dutch Oven Ad

It says it is already seasoned and works well with wood… What’s a fellow to do?

I mean, I am shopping for a Dutch Oven. Near as I can tell, this is Dutch… and it makes all the right claims… and it’s “easy to maintain”…

Sometimes life is just so unfair… somehow I think the spouse would not let me keep one of those around the house… Especially hot and cooking…

I think I need to click over to Walmart and look at cast iron there for a while and hope the “only 2 left” are sold by the time I get back…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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26 Responses to Shopping for A Dutch Oven and…

  1. Ralph B says:

    I question the “easy to maintain”…from the picture I conclude high maintenance. Probably doesn’t keep the same shape for years either. Can’t hurt to try though especially with Amazons great return policy.

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    I could have lived a long and happy life without knowing that… It’s just so so… “wrong”. In so many ways.

    @Ralph B:

    Just in case anyone wants to see how long the ad stays that way, here’s the link:

  3. Petrossa says:

    i wonder why you lot are so fond of taking the mickey out of us poor Dutch. We loaned you the money to start your nation for Christ sake! :(

  4. Bloke down the pub says:

    ”Raised lip around the lid is excellent for cooking….”

    What more can one say? I think a capacity of 4 quarts might be more than I would want though.

  5. philjourdan says:

    Still there! WOW! Makes a man want to take up cooking!

  6. Stuart says:

    My favorite music is by “Dave’s True Story”…one song’s lyrics start with the words “Ned has a big Dutch wife”. It cooks a bit.!/search/song?q=Dave's+True+Story+-+Sex+With+Out+Bodies+ned's+big+dutch+wife

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    Perfect for a camper when feeling lonely!….

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    “Taking the Mickey” out? Here I am praising Dutch Ovens. My Amish ancestors are, here, called “Pennsylvania Dutch”. We’re even looking at what may be a picture of a Dutch (something or other… it does look like some Dutch ‘window shopping’) and nobody has “talked it down”. Heck, I even wondered how the Dutch were so productive (large an economy of net foreign exchange – in another thread) from so little land… I think I’ve not “bashed” the Dutch at all. Heck, I admire them (and thought of learning Dutch once… that and Frisian are ancestral to English and fairly similar. My Anglo / Saxon ancestral lines did come from there… and up toward Denmark… but from before they were different countries…)

    BTW, the Amish came to Pennsylvania from parts of Germany and Switzerland. Many of the Swiss Amish had started out in the parts of the German territories that would eventually become “Dutch”. (Thus the name “Pennsylvania Dutch”… well, that, and after two world wars it was much easier to claim “Dutch” than “German” origins in the USA… )

    I think you are just being overly sensitive…

    Besides, we were borrowing money from everyone then. The French. Heck, a key battle was funded by Jewish immigrants.

    Haym Solomon (or Salomon) (April 7, 1740 – January 6, 1785) was a Spanish and Portuguese Jew who immigrated to New York from Poland during the period of the American Revolution, he was a broker and helped convert the French loans into ready cash by selling bills of exchange for Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance. In this way he aided the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain
    Once resettled, Solomon resumed his activities as a broker. He became the agent to the French consul, as well as the paymaster for the French forces in North America. In 1781, he began working extensively with Robert Morris, the newly appointed Superintendent for Finance for the Thirteen Colonies.

    In August 1781, the Continental Army had trapped Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis in the little Virginia coastal town of Yorktown. George Washington and the main army and Count de Rochambeau with his French army decided to march from the Hudson Highlands to Yorktown and deliver the final blow. But Washington’s war chest was completely empty, as was that of Congress. Washington determined that he needed at least $20,000 to finance the campaign. When Morris told him there were no funds and no credit available, Washington gave him a simple but eloquent order: “Send for Haym Solomon”. Solomon raised $20,000, through the sale of bills of exchange, and Washington conducted the Yorktown campaign, which proved to be the final battle of the Revolution.

    Solomon negotiated the sale of a majority of the war aid from France and Holland, selling bills of exchange to American merchants. Solomon also personally supported various members of the Continental Congress during their stay in Philadelphia, including James Madison and James Wilson. Acting as the patriot he was, he requested below market interest rates, and he never asked for repayment.

    Solomon is believed to have granted outright bequests to men he felt were unsung heroes of the Revolution who had become impoverished during the conflict. One example is Dr. Bodo Otto, senior surgeon in the continental army. Dr. Otto joined the army at the age of 65 and served for the entire war. Among other things, he established the hospital at Valley Forge were he often used his own funds to purchase medical supplies. Thanks to Solomon’s bequest, Dr. Otto was able to rebuild his medical practice in Reading, Pennsylvania at war’s end.

    The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the Revolutionary War but not the financial problems of the newly established nation. America’s war debt to France was never properly repaid, which started the cascade of events leading to the French Revolution.
    Despite lack of evidence, there is a legend that during the design process of the Great Seal, Washington asked what compensation Solomon wanted for his contributions. He replied that “he wanted nothing for himself but that he wanted something for his people”. As a result, the 13 stars representing the colonies on the seal were arranged in the shape of the Star of David. In 1893, a bill was presented before the 52nd United States Congress ordering a gold medal be struck in recognition of Solomon’s contributions to the United States. Hollywood saluted Solomon with the 1939 short Sons of Liberty starring Claude Rains as the patriot. (see IMDB under Claude Rains)
    In 1939, Warner Brothers released Sons of Liberty, a short film starring Claude Rains as Solomon.

    Though the movie makes it look more like the American Jews were contributing their gold and silver to fund the revolution, rather than just Solomon being a money launderer and banker…

    In any case, a (then quite huge) sum of $20,000 was raised ( think “about 600,000 ounces of gold”) and the war was won. The USA exists because of Dutch money loaned, French money loaned, a Jewish financial ‘arranger’ and some dedication from all sorts of immigrants, Jewish, Dutch, French, Irish, German, and all…

    The Congressional Record of March 25, 1975 reads:

    “When Morris was appointed Superintendent of Finance, he turned to Solomon for help in raising the money needed to carry on the war and later to save the emerging nation from financial collapse. Solomon advanced direct loans to the government and also gave generously of his own resources to pay the salaries of government officials and army officers. With frequent entries of “I sent for Haym Solomon”, Morris’ diary for the years 1781–84 records some 75 transactions between the two men.

    And folks wonder why I’m intolerant of slander toward Jews or Bankers… While this may be only a small part of it, the simple fact is that America was paid for with Jewish money and kept functional by Jewish bankers. We owe them a lot (snicker… ;-)


    I’ll give it a listen after lunch… looks like an interesting song…

    @Adolfo & PhilJourdan:

    Well, there’s a reason I like to cook….

  9. Tim Clark says:

    I wondered where the term “a bun in the oven” came from.

  10. gary turner says:

    Tim Clark says:
    6 March 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Perhaps because the fornix is the deepest part of the vagina, immediately surrounding the cervix. The word fornix is Latin for arch, and also means oven. The Roman goddess of the hearth and baking was Fornax for whom Fornicalia is celebrated February 19, or thereabouts. The word fornicate comes from the habit of Roman prostitutes hanging around archways which provided a dark venue for the exchange of money for favors.

    With this background, the provenance of “a bun in the oven” becomes obvious.



  11. DirkH says:

    While we’re talking about the Dutch.
    Spirit Of Amsterdam in Denmark

  12. Judy F. says:

    Last night I was going to add something to your dutch oven post. I was trying to find a recipe from Sunset Magazine that made bread in a dutch oven cooked over coals. It was from years ago and I had no luck in finding what I was looking for. I did find this link to the blog “Alaska From Scratch” and some of the recipes looked really good. I found ” Dutch Oven Crusty Bread” , but after what you posted today, it, ermm, just somehow seems wrong…

  13. K says:

    The local Boy Scout troop uses multiple stacked dutch ovens to make several courses for the troop including dessert.
    Er, the ovens on the left.
    With the legs.
    Oh, forget it

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F:

    Thanks for the recipe. I have just finished roasting a chicken in my Lodge Dutch Oven. Surprisingly good. (Just salted / peppered chicken, in the pot; ring of coals top and bottom, about 1/2 hour in, added another dozen? cold coals for the others to get started – might not have needed to do that, but was trying for consistency).

    At about 1:15 or so, with some coals left, took the pot off the coals. Chicken nicely roasted and starting to fall apart. Gentle golden finish.

    What I had not expected was the aroma and flavor being enhanced. (Not sure why. Maybe the hot oil from the seasoning?) It’s kind of like a light (southern meaning – wet slow cooked) BBQ flavor added. Not smoke, nor really a ‘grilled’ anything… but a subtle richer flavor.

    I’m also of the opinion that starting with a bit extra coals and finishing with a bit under (as they burn down) is likely ideal for roasted meats and poultry. No need to ‘consistency’. It lets it get going fast, when cold, but finish “low and slow” like BBQ.

    At any rate, I’m quite happy with how it worked as a oven. For some obscure reason we’d always used it like a stew pot or deep frying pan before… It actually does deserve the name “Oven” and did a great job on Roast Chicken.

    ( I know, I ought to have something cute or cheeky or ‘comedy’ to add… but I don’t. I tend to the serous when dealing with the hows and results of cooking… )

    An open question is just how good the ‘pan drippings’ will be for soup stock. I usually take the pot drippings from a chicken and add one sauted onion (in chicken fat), a couple of chopped carrots and a cup or so of chopped celery, some rice and lentils, water (a few cups) and cook. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a chicken bouillon cube if the flavor is too weak. I’m hopping that the ‘pot drippings’ from the dutch oven works as well.

    It took more charcoal than I expected. (A Weber charcoal chimney nearly full) So my estimated “cost to operate” may need a review. But frankly, the flavor is enough better that I don’t care… ;-)

    An 18 lb bag cost about $6 at Wally World, so about 33 cents / lb. I’d guess I used 2? lbs. At the present 29 cents / kW-hr I think it’s a tiny bit cheaper. When we get to $1/2 / kW-hr is is likely a wash. If you have your own supply of wood, it’s a no brainer… Adding the rest of dinner in a ‘tower’ of Dutch Ovens would be economical. Adding a brick surround / wind screen will likely cut fuel needed as well. ( I had a 1/4 or so ‘wind block’ on a cool, overcast, windy day.)

    It also turns out that the 12 inch Lodge will not fit the 7 lb “1/2 ham” I bought. So I have a reason to buy that giant one ;-) Having ham that is a bit more like BBQ and less like “oven dried” without firing up the whole giant smoker thing is worth it.

    I think I’ve just become a committed Dutch Oven cook… From “Garage Albatross” to “why haven’t I been doing this for years?” in one simple trial…

    May make a posting of the brick layout and resulting chicken later… I did take pictures…

  15. Judy F. says:

    When my kids were all home, I bought a clay cooker that was glazed inside, and it had a clay lid. Often life would get hectic and I didn’t get the roast defrosted in time. I found that I could put a mostly frozen 5-6 pound beef roast in that clay cooker and it would be fall off the bone tender in about 4 hours. I have wondered how a clay cooker would hold up in some of your experiments, if you could have a less intense heat source. Then the food could just cook slowly for a number of hours. I know that my clay pot needed to be put in a cold oven, and then the heat turned up, so you probably couldn’t put it directly on hot coals. But maybe hot coals with a layer of dirt over them, or a POB with the coals scraped to the side. Just another idea.

    I too have Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors. I was told that they called themselves Pennsylvania Deutsch ( german), which was anglicized to Dutch. Interesting different stories.

  16. John F. Hultquist says:

    I followed Judy F.’s link to the crusty bread to find an image of what looks like the Belgium Descoware (in green color) – not that there is anything wrong with that.

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    Something new discovered? A “dutch” oven makes a great camp oven. :-) Back in the days of the Pennsylvania Deutsch no one owned a stove or range. They cooked in a fireplace in the winter and a firepit outside in the summer. A masonry oven would be something only a wealthy landowner might own. or a professional baker would have. Damn, and I was going to reinvent the wheel over my outside fire pit. What I need is to rethink the use of the pit. Great work Smith! next time add the carrots and potatoes etc. to the chicken and the stew will be nearly made, just add more water. Guess I need to acquire a Dutch oven or two, for the veranda cooking area. And some bricks. Much easier to stack bricks instead of piling rocks. Now where is my sledge hammer, need to do a small remodel. 8-) pg

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F:

    Not so different a story… Dad also told me it was Pennsylvania Deutsch and got Anglicized, but added that there was some ‘motivation’ to go along with the typical misunderstanding of “Dutch” in the aftermath of WWI and WWII. When you look into the history, some of the Deutsch came to the USA from Switzerland, which if you trace them back, came from “low Germans”.. i.e. Germans from the Low Countries. Holland Germans… so they two things are the same as you go back far enough.

    Low German or Low Saxon (Plattdüütsch, Nedderdüütsch; Standard German: Plattdeutsch or Niederdeutsch; Dutch: Nedersaksisch in the wider sense. See Nomenclature below.) is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is descended from Old Saxon in its earliest form.

    Note the connection fairly directly to the Saxons… so Saxons, Dutch, and “Low Germans” are the same folks from the same area… That was also part of the Kingdom of Germany:

    (See the map in the link…)

    The history of Europe is fascinating, especially when you start looking at language and genetic groups. For example, the Franks, for whom France is named, were a Germanic tribe… so folks in Northern and Eastern France are, in fact, Germans… just speaking French these days….

    Which leads into the Holy Roman Empire that is nominally under the French, but those were Franks… So in essence that Holy Roman Empire had the “Low Germans” and the Dutch, and the rest of the Germans being pulled into one Empire by another batch of Germans… from France…

    At any rate, by the time you get to the 1700s or so, some of the “Low Germans” got religion and ran off to Switzerland, then to the USA, as Amish, then a generation or two later one of them ran off to W.W.II, and met a gal who was of Saxon extraction also, but about 1500 years earlier and via England, and one thing lead to another and eventually to me ;-) So while I cheerfully point out my “mixed ancestry” with Amish, German, English, Viking etc. etc. the reality is that they all lead back about 1800 to 2000 years ago to that Danish / Dutch / German area and a bunch of Angles, Saxons, and the stray Dane going a Viking… Oh, and some Celts from Ireland and Britain who were fighting them off… All inside a line from Ireland to Denmark via Holland. (Before that, they may have been even closer, but it’s hard to say… Potentially a small area on north Iberia and wherever the Dutch / Low Germans were then… basically both sides of France.)

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Found that the brick “surround” even though only a 1/4 or so on the upwind side was helpful. (Had a decent breeze going and definitely kept things more even. Didn’t need to rotate the pot or move coals or anything). I’ve got a picture (up soon) and even did a ‘trial fit’ of the BBQ lid over the top with a stack of brick on the back side. (It was threatening rain and I need an “Aw Shit” plan… so ‘tin roof’ sounded better than ‘water cracked cast iron’…)

    All in all, for $60 for that large D.O. from Wally World and $20 of bricks, I’ve got a very nice oven that does a chicken (like the ‘stew idea’ too ;-) just dandy and will undoubtedly do a nice loaf of bread with one load of coals. Likely will put some glass beads under the bread pan as the carmalized bottom of the chicken was good, but not sure it would be best for bread… we’ll see… I need to measure the charcoals so I know the price of fuel per run, but “One Webber Starter Can” is more than enough. I’d make it about a gallon or gallon and 1/2?

    Good point on the history I tend to think of Dutch Ovens as “Conestoga wagons headed to California” as that’s how the history is taught here in California; but the were brought over by the Dutch and in Europe were used for home cooking, not trail food…

    FWIW, I liked that chicken so much I ordered that Large DO (14 inch / 12 quart) too. I’ll now have a full set of them. Why? So I can size the pot to the meal and thus limit the charcoal burned to “just enough” per pot. Also so I can do a ham (and maybe a small turkey ;-) in the D.O. too.

    I think why it tastes better is the fat spatter hitting the hot iron making a ‘smoked’ flavor, though subtle. Also the bottom of the chicken got those darker slightly caramelized bits like really good pan fried chicken ;-) Spouse loved it too…

    So I’m not giving up on the eventual “real oven” on the patio, but for now I’m quite happy to say that a couple of Dutch Ovens does more, better, than the Coleman anything… and definitely does fine for baking. In fact, It looks like “load a batch of coals and walk away” probably works just fine on timing too. It automatically ‘shuts off’ after the right amount of cooking was done, then swaps over to ‘keep warm’. (The pot kept the chicken warm from ‘finished’ at about 4:15 to “spouse home at last” at about 5:45 and likely would have been ok even longer. That was sitting out of the wind in the kitchen inside.)

    At this point I’m planning on: Smoker, Fire Pit / POB w/ Dutch Oven, and occasional Unleaded Gasoline or Propane Stove for fast things like making coffee. (It’s a 2 burner stove and I have both gasoline tank and propane generator so can swap).

    Then spending some time pondering just how to make a Real Oven that’s efficient… I want one small enough that it does just one or two loaves of bread on minimal fuel use.

    I’ll probably end up with two ovens. One for a single loaf of bread, another for a whole turkey…

    Might want to get the Dutch Oven before you start the remodel though… ;-)

  19. p.g.sharrow says:

    Well the oven thingy that I made does not work well enough to save but the grill part of the cooking area works great, so no loss. one way or another the oven part needs to be removed. It would be nice to have an “oven’ or slow cooker that works. A way to use a cast iron cooker or other things would be an improvement. The large cast iron Dutch Oven also would solve the problem of rust and cleaning the oven as it can be removed for maintenance and storage.

    Creating new things is fun, even better when then they work well. 8-) pg

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, the cast iron Dutch Oven works. Even if all you have a a fire proof flat to set it on. It is an oven with lots of coals, a slow cooker with just a few. Your choice. Walmart has them in various sizes from $25 for a 4 quart to $70 or so for large fancy brands I don’t need. ( The one I used here was about $65 IIRC in the Wally World add. See the new posting that has a link to it here:

    As these things will work on wood, and you have “scrub to clear”, your cost of fuel will be zero (well, labor, but you will be removing scrub anyway…)

    I’m thinking a ‘rocket stove’ base of medium size and a ‘large flue’ with doors you can open to set in / take out a couple of kettles and you have an efficient workable setup. Just remember you are talking about 25 to 30 pounds ‘lift’ for a pot of chicken. Make the “lift” an easy height / location.

    Personally, I’m planning to stick with the POB on a table at ‘just the right height’ for a while… At least until my muscles build up ;-)

  21. Bloke down the pub says:

    I don’t want to go adding to your ‘to buy ‘ list, but you might find this of interest. . It’s amazing what you come across when you google Moroccan

  22. Jason Calley says:

    While I cannot vouch for the quality, Harbor Freight has a 12 inch Dutch Oven for about $30.

    [Reply: Adding link. -E.M.Smith]

  23. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; This is just the thing for bread:
    Cast iron bread cook pan,
    3.5-cup Preseasoned Cast Iron Loaf Pan bottom dimensions per Reba at mfg. 7 3/4″ in lenght and 4″ in width. Real squared off loaves. ;-) pg

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    Same as above from manufacture website:
    Produced in our Tennessee foundry,
    All kinds of cast iron cooking utensils. pg

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, sadly, it looks like they have pulled the image. Guess someone else noticed…

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