Monday, June 8, 2009

Cooking Your Food Storage - Part 1b

There are several ways to estimate the temperature of your coals.

For the three of methods listed below the coals are put around the top edge of the lid and just inside the legs on the bottom. In fact, if you can put them between the legs, just under the bottom edge, that is perfect. You want to keep from putting coals in the center of the bottom for baking, this creates hot spots and will burn your food. The same for the top, if you are doing a bread or cake, coals near the center will create hot spots and burn the center of your bread or cake.

1. Use the Lodge Baking Temperature Chart. A PDF version can be found here. You use this by finding your Dutch Oven size in the left column, go across the top to the degrees you want. Find the intersecting point. For example, a 12" oven, at 350 degrees would be 25 total coals. You would put 17 on top and 8 on the bottom.

2. Rule of 3: Take the diameter of the oven and double it. So for our 12" oven we would use 24 coals. We would put 3 less on the bottom and 3 extra on top, or 9 on the bottom and 15 on top. This will give you approximately 350 degrees.

3. Ring method: Ring the entire lid with a single ring of coals, so that the edges are just touching. Do the same on the bottom. This will give you approximately 350 degrees. This is better explained on the LSDOS website.

There are other methods as well. Just do what you can remember. Most of us around here use the Rule of 3.

Each coal is approximately 10 to 15 degrees. So if you need more temperature, add the appropriate number of coals for methods 2 and 3. If less, subtract. I have found that most things can be cooked at approximately 350 degrees. If the recipe calls for 325, cook less time, if 375, cook longer. Some things, like Prime Rib, require a really hot oven at first, around 400 to 425 degrees, but most things are happy at around 350.

Also weather effects the heat of the coals. If it is really cold, not a real problem here, or windy, a typical issue in my backyard, it will take a couple of more coals. The wind makes them burn hotter and quicker, so you have to watch them. A windscreen is a good accessory.

As you can see from the methods, it is not an exact science. You get the feel for it after cooking awhile. Good cooks can tell the temperature using the palm of their hands held over the ovens.

The above information is for baking in the Dutch Oven. If you need to fry or saute something, then you need more heat on the bottom. If you are cooking something like beans and need it to boil, more heat on the bottom and top.

Remember Cee Dubs basic rules:
1. If it smells done? It is DONE.
2 . If it smells burnt? It is BURNT.
3. If it don't smell? It is NOT DONE and NO PEAKING.

Happy cooking

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