By Keith Fisher
The weather is cooling. Not many days of summer left. Some folks are planning their last big camping trip, or they’re thinking of having the in-laws over for dinner on the holiday. Just because it’s Labor Day doesn’t mean you have to labor.
I’ve been cooking in camp since I was little, and I’d used Dutch ovens many times before. Outdoor cooking at home, however, consisted of the propane barbecue, until one Saturday when my wife had to work. I wanted to make dinner for her, but I didn’t want to give up my gardening time.
I pulled a venison roast out the freezer, put it in the microwave to thaw, and retrieved our Dutch oven form the camping stuff. I set it in a wheelbarrow, and started the roast cooking. I dug some onions from the garden and added them. I dug some potatoes and added them. I dug some carrots and added them. I finished it off by picking corn on the cob, breaking them in half, and adding them to the top of the pot.
When it was done, there was way too much food for the two of us. I called my brother and my dad, and we had an impromptu party. We had loved entertaining in our backyard, but I found that when I invited people to a barbecue, some of them would come. When the invitation was for Dutch oven cooking, I rarely had anyone cancel.
It was all down hill after that. We got involved in competition, and ended up winning the World Championship in 2005.
The point here, is entertaining doesn’t have to be a big production. Put food in a Dutch oven and let it cook. Now, before you ask, “what do I cook”, I will tell you a basic secret. Many of my recipes start with two things. Onions and bell peppers. Dice them, and add them first. You may need a dab of olive oil to get started, but only a dab.
These vegetables contain water that cooks out, leaving moisture in the pot so the meat doesn’t burn, and they add flavor.
Here is a simple recipe.
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 chicken breasts cut in half
1 can cream of chicken soup
Dried rosemary to taste
With bottom heat only, (No coals in the center), sauté vegetables until translucent. Add chicken breasts and stir with the vegetables. Cover the pot, and let the meat cook. Stir occasionally. In 45 minutes, change the coals to fresh, hot ones. This is the time you add the soup. (You might want to use a second can.) Add rosemary and let simmer 45-minutes.
You will be amazed that you can eat the meat with a plastic fork. It will be a bit dry, but so tender. Spoon the sauce on the meat and the baked potatoes.
Next week I’ll tell you how to do potatoes.