Van Essential: Dutch Oven
I bought what I thought was a Dutch Oven but turned out to be a Bean Pot Kettle. In only two days of cooking with it I am in love with this form of cooking and thoroughly endorse getting a Dutch Oven (or Kettle) as part of your RVing or Van-dwelling cooking arsenal.
My first cooking attempt was simply to bake some potatoes and yams. I went as far to do the majority of the cooking with four tealight candles which, once the kettle was preheated using my propane stove, held the interior above 300 degrees for four hours.
Only a day later I went for the big-ticket item; chicken dinner. After preheating the kettle I placed a half-breast of chicken in it and closed the lid and set the propane stove to the lowest flame I could achieve. Even with the lowest setting, the interior of the kettle stayed above 400 degrees and within 45 minutes the chicken was fully cooked. I added in my favorite vegetables and a yam to reheat for a few minutes while I pealed the chicken meat off the bone. A few more minutes and I had one of the best van-cooked meals I have ever had.
Why use a Dutch Oven?
There are some major advantages to using a Dutch Oven over a BBQ or Microwave.
First, it requires no electricity at all so it can be done anywhere.
Second, it can be done both inside or outside the van. This means, I can cook up a proper meal even while parked in a Walmart parking lot. Or I can start up a fire at a campground and set the oven in the coals to slow cook.
Lastly, I can bake with it. While a normal cast-iron pan only allows frying, a Dutch Oven allows complete and proper baking. You can place a heat source (coals) on top of the flat lid too. Want biscuits? You can have them. Want apple pie? You can bake that too!
Although you have to manually manage the temperature, the cooking process is pretty much fire-and-forget once you have the temps you want.
For more, I found Dutch Oven Dude
What is the difference between a Dutch oven and a bean kettle?
A Dutch Oven has legs (so coals can be placed under) and a flat top (so coals can be placed on the top). A Kettle has no legs and the top is domed. A kettle can still be used as a Dutch Oven with a little extra effort.
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