Out of the oven and into the fire: renovating Dutch oven for outdoor cooking

I spent around 5 years in the US in my late 20s and early 30s and did accrete a lot of books from Powells, some homeware and other assorted kit that was shipped back to Cambridge, England in 2003. One of the items Christine and I acquired was a Dutch oven, which we used for a bit of casseroling and one of my adopted personal recipes: Transylvanian Baked Sauerkraut gleaned from a Hungarian cookbook, obtained from Powells.

The Dutch oven has seen much less use as I Christine and I acquired other ovenware. However, the shift to doing a lot more outdoor work alerted me to the opportunities for renovating the Dutch oven for cooking on open fires, as well as in the oven.

While the oven would have been OK to use, the urge to tinker is upon me at the moment, so I decided to see what I could do to improve the oven for open fire use. The two major issues were the missing knob for the lid and the need to be able to hang the oven from a pot hanger if need be.

A trawl on the internet soon located a replacement metal knob that could be screwed in without too much effort once the metal stem of the never-present old lid knob had been cut off with a hacksaw with some help from Jenna.

Having seen the cast-iron Dutch ovens with the integral bail arm handles and looped handles that are sold to folks who realise from the off that they are knowingly buying a Dutch oven to do bushcraft cookery on, I had vague notions of how I might make some hanging system. A couple of webcasts from outdoorsy folks made me appreciate that all I needed some wire (an old bike brake cable would do for the truly parsimonious among you) and some ferrules and the willingness to mess about with some tools. Along with an acceptance that I might not get it quite right to have the ‘one-size-fits-all-with-ease’ constructs shown. Thanks to all the people out there who share their bushcraft knowledge freely and especially Alastair Ewan of Aspen Outdoors. He has introduced me to quite a bit of bushcraft kit and lore over the past few years I have worked for him.

The finished hanger does not quite work for all the possible receptacles I have but it does work a treat with the Dutch oven. Hoping to be able to test it out soon. Please send recipes! Now I just need to persuade Jenna she needs to finish her whittling badge and make us a pot hanger.

Dutch oven with new lid knob and bail arm.

Dutch oven with new lid knob and bail arm.

Another piece of cookware I got from the huge Maxwell Street Market in downtown Chicago was a cast-iron griddle pan with no handle that has been put to various uses over the years. On our recent family trip to the NW and West Highlands we put it to use on the gas stove, lined with aluminium foil, to do fried breakfasts and quesadillas on and on the BBQ when visiting Stacey and Max in Connel. By good fortune, it is an ideal fit to the Dutch oven pot and could be used as a second cooking layer or as a flat plate to pile hot coals on to allow heat from all sides.

Dutch oven with griddle pan as lid

Dutch oven with griddle pan as lid to extend the range of cooking techniques that the kit is capable of.




I am a palaeobiologist in my early 40's carrying out research work. I am based in Scotland.

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Al is a Summer Mountain Leader
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Previously on Hills of Hame
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