October 11, 2006


Men who have a cast-iron devotion to 'black-pot' cooking (ANNE SILIN, October 11, 2006, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"If you have some briquettes and a Dutch oven, you can prepare anything."

So says Gary Butterfield, director of the Puget Sound chapter of the International Dutch Oven Society. The Utah-based IDOS, with 37 chapters, is the world's largest organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Dutch oven cooking. Members are "black-pot enthusiasts," committed to cooking good food outdoors while creating a sense of community.

Inspired by an emergency-preparedness class taught at their church, Butterfield, Dale Beam and Brion Norton formed the Puget Sound chapter in March. [...]

The first step of Dutch oven ownership is seasoning the pot. Doing so requires a hot oven, and the overpowering smell of burning grease that typically results in a furious spouse. Preseasoned Dutch ovens are available, which Beam enthusiastically endorses for their spouse-friendly quality.

Once the pot is seasoned, you are ready to cook. [...]

Cooking with Dutch ovens doesn't require extra gear, but Beam and Butterfield admit to a touch of "castironitis." Between them they own 30 ovens. Carpenters by trade, they also have created gadgets, such as a "Dutch oven box" that includes kitchen tools necessary for any culinary emergency and a metal table ergonomically designed to reduce back strain while lifting heavy pots.

Ask each to name his favorite part of Dutch cooking, and he'll tell you it's the people.

"We've never met anyone in the Dutch oven classes or events that haven't just been genuine people" Butterfield said.

There's something about cooking outdoors with family and friends, united in preparation, anticipating the cooking pots, and finally gathering around a table for a hard-earned meal, that excites Dutchers.

"Our goal is to have good family fun," said Beam.

And Butterfield added: "We're here to spread and share the skills, share the love."



# 8 new potatoes, scrubbed & quartered
# 8 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
# 4 parsnips, cut into 2-inch pieces
# 2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered
# 1/2 cup cooking oil
# 2 1/2 cups flour
# 1 teaspoon kosher salt
# 1 teaspoon white pepper
# 2 tablespoons dried thyme
# 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
# 1 14-ounce can chicken broth
# 1/2 cup water

Soak the vegetables in salted water.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups of flour, salt, white pepper and thyme. Pat dry the chicken breasts and add 1 at a time to flour mixture until well coated. Shake off excess flour and set aside on a platter.

Add oil to a 12-inch Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees, or until a small bit of flour dropped into the oil sizzles and becomes golden brown. Being careful not to crowd the pan, fry the chicken until both sides are golden brown. Remove the chicken and set aside on a platter until all of the chicken is browned. Drain excess oil from the Dutch oven, but try to leave any chicken bits in the bottom of the pot.

Drain the vegetables and add them to the Dutch oven. Pour chicken broth over the vegetables. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and bring to a slow boil. Simmer vegetables for 25 or 30 minutes on medium heat, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add the chicken, along with any juices that have accumulated on the platter, to the top of the vegetables. Make sure the chicken does not touch the lid of the Dutch oven or it will stick to the lid. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender.

Leaving the broth in the Dutch oven, remove the chicken and vegetables and place them into serving bowls, covering to keep warm.

To make the gravy, in a small bowl whisk the remaining 1/2 cup flour and water together until smooth. Return the Dutch oven and broth to medium-high heat. Add half of the flour-water mixture to the broth, and whisk until smooth. Continue adding more of the flour-water mixture until you reach the desired consistency. Season to taste. Serve the gravy in a bowl together with the chicken and vegetables.

From the Kitchen of Dale Beam

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2006 8:22 AM

Cast iron is the way to go. Food just plain tastes better when cooked in the even heat of iron. Heat a skillet up to scorching and you get a real nice sear on steak etc. Also best for pie crusts and biscuits.

Posted by: Pepys at October 11, 2006 1:07 PM

This weekend is the deer hunt here in Utah - thousands of dutch ovens that have sat idle all year (and many that have not) will be put to work. It is hard to beat a big helping of dutch oven potatoes around the fire. (Ingredients: bacon, onions, peppers, potatoes, salt and pepper - everything in generous quantities)

Posted by: JasonJohnson at October 11, 2006 10:11 PM