cooking w/charcoal guide

Discussion in 'Camp Cooking & Dutch Ovens' started by jerry and tina, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. here is a good reference for using coals with your DOs,

    It has alittle tool that calculates how much charcosl to use.
    Sometimes I refer to it before we go camping and add it to my recipe and I have it saved on my laptop for quick reference.
    This is just part of it:

    Counting Charcoal
    Lots of dutch oven cookbooks tell you how many charcoal briquettes to put under and on top of the oven. This is the easiest way to cook since every coal is similar and consistent. If you are like me and use real wood for your outdoor camp cooking coals, it doesn't help much. Also, different brands of charcoal give off different amounts of heat. But, let's say you are going to use charcoal...
    The normal formula is to use twice the number of briquettes as the diameter of the oven. For a 12 inch oven, you would use 24 briquettes. Depending on the type of cooking you are doing, you need to make the heat come more from the top or bottom of the oven. For example, too much heat on the bottom will burn bread.
    To do this, you place more or less of the briquettes on the lid.
    Here is a simple chart:
    Baking More heat from top so bottom does not burn.
    Place 3/4 coals on top and 1/4 underneath.
    Roasting Heat comes equally from top and bottom.
    Place 1/2 coals on top and 1/2 underneath.
    Stewing, Simmering Most heat from bottom.
    Place 1/4 coals on top and 3/4 underneath.
    Frying, Boiling All head from bottom.
    Place all coals underneath.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2016
  2. Evan

    Evan Administrator Staff Member

    Wow! Thank you Jerry & Tina! Can't wait to start trying this.
  3. Oysterpot

    Oysterpot Moderator Staff Member

    cooking w/charcoal guide- Ring Method

    Practice makes perfect. Don't get dismayed. It will come.
    1. 800 deg? You burnt your seasoning off! Reseason immediately.
    2. I seem to remember that you have the camp oven? Yes? If not get a lid stand to support the pot.
    3. Charcoal placement. Practice the "ring" method.
    you don't need to count coals. 1 ring on bottom, and 11/2 rings on top will give you 350deg. Depending on wind conditions. But you will be very close. 2 full rings on top will be around 375-400 etc.
    Frying, all coals on bottom. Simmering etc adjust as you would using a range, add or remove heat.

    I have attached or copied a full description of the "ring method" below.
    If you are going to use your DO often, seasoning and wiping with oil is OK, but if you are not going to use it at least once a week, I highly recommend using Bee wax as your seasoning medium. It will not turn rancid and stink up your pot.

    The following is an excerpt from an article by Duane Dinwiddie of the Lone Star DO Society.


    Beginners frequently over-start their charcoal. By that I mean they leave it in the starter too long before they use it. It should take only 10 to 15 minutes to start charcoal in a chimney starter, and anything longer than that is a waste. It may not look lit in the starter, but if it has flames coming out the top and no smoke, it is ready. Dump out the coals and use the fully lit ones first. Charcoal that has been started for 30 minutes before it is put on a pot will be half burned away, and will not produce as much heat per briquette. It will also not provide heat long enough to finish some recipes. Always start more charcoal than you need, so you can add the extra later to maintain heat if necessary, especially if it is windy. All recipes assume that you use fresh, properly lit charcoal. A few lit coals in a starter will start charcoal put on top.

    When I first started this Dutch oven thing, I tried to count out the number of charcoal briquettes called for in the Dutch Oven recipe books. I rapidly found this to be far less than satisfactory for me, as it's dangerous to have to take your shoes off to count hot charcoal. In addition, I found out that you have to use more of the cheaper brands of charcoal than if you use a quality brand such as improved Kingsford "K" charcoal. So, I decided to measure quantities of hot charcoal by geometric patterns. All of my recipes are based on using the improved Kingsford K charcoal or equivalent and the following "ring" method of temperature control. The definitions are:

    1-ring : If you make a circle of hot charcoal with all of the briquettes lying flat and touching each other, with spaces left out for the legs on the bottom rings, that is "one ring". The outside edge of the ring is lined up with the outside edge of the pot, top or bottom.

    1/2-ring : A "half ring" is the same size circle, but with every other briquette missing.

    2- rings : is simply a second ring just inside the first, with the rings touching.

    Full spread :means to put all the briquettes you can (one layer deep, lying flat) either under (very rare, except in frying) or on top of the pot.
    This ring technique is kind of self-correcting for the size of the briquettes used. If your charcoal has been burning for a while, the pieces will be smaller and will put out less heat. But, it will take more of them to make a ring, so you still get about the same temperature. Of course they won't last as long and the comparison is rough, but it's better than counting briquettes!

    These cooking utensils were designed hundreds of years ago to cook food using coals from wood fires. Yes, of course you can cook with campfire coals, but the technique is beyond the scope of this booklet.
  4. flourgold

    flourgold Newbie

    Re: cooking w/charcoal guide- Ring Method

    Anyone know where to get a dutch oven near T or C NM?
  5. Oysterpot

    Oysterpot Moderator Staff Member

    Re: cooking w/charcoal guide- Ring Method

    Not sure what stores are available in NM, but
    on line there is Lodge, Campchef, Amazon, and my favorite KA-Tom Restaurant supply. Cabelas, Bass Pro as well. Lodge Campchef
    of course there is ebay as well, but that could be risky. My preference is of course Lodge MFG, as they are the ONLY mfg of cast iron cookware in the USA.
  6. Jim Carter

    Jim Carter Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

    Evan likes this.
  7. dutchovenpro

    dutchovenpro Newbie


Share This Page