Anatomy of a Potluck Party

By Keith Fisher

Did you ever have a DOG? No, I’m not talking about eating dogs. DOG is an acronym for Dutch Oven Gathering. It’s a phrase adopted by Dutch oven cooks, and is widely used in those circles.

You'd never know it since the temperatures have been so cool, but with the passing of Memorial Day, summer is upon us. Time to start thinking of backyard parties and camping trips. I’m sure you know how to throw a dinner party, but let me talk you into a special kind.

For my wife’s birthday a few years ago, I planned an event. I was into a Dutch oven hobby. I wanted to cook, but I didn’t want to cook all the food. The solution of course, was the proverbial potluck party. Not just any banquet though, I wanted to have a Dutch oven affair. I knew some of my relatives and friends cook in Dutch ovens and I wanted to cook with them.

It was fun. The dinner was delicious, and I learned a few things that I’d like to share with you.

  • Secure a place to hold it---Backyard or park pavilion?
  • Plan ahead---Will you need an extra Dutch oven table?
    Access to restrooms? Perhaps you will need a source of water?
  • Send an invitation. Mine said: Come and cook in your Dutch oven or
    bring your favorite potluck dish. List cooking times and eating times.
    Emphasize the relaxed atmosphere.
  • Plan what you are going to cook.

This might seem simplistic, but so is Dutch oven cooking. When I held the birthday party I mentioned, one of my friends came by and watched my preparations. I started cooking a 12-pound turkey and he shook his head.

"It’s amazing," he said.
I looked up from placing coals on the lid. "What is?" I asked.
"It’s amazing you can cook something that big, with only a few coals."
I grinned and sat in my lawn chair. "Yes, it is, and you can kick back and relax while you do it."

One more thing to note, If you happen to be involved in Dutch oven cooking competitions, and your guests know it, tell them you are cooking something simple. For some reason your guests will tend to shy away from cooking around you. Help them relax and have fun.

When the big day comes, put your feet up, have fun talking with your guests. You might find they’re interesting people. Then, when it’s time to eat, enjoy the smiles and the compliments.

Return to the Neighborhood.

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