Dutch Oven Accessories
A dutch oven is just the first step on this journey you've begun into the land of outdoors cooking. You've now got Birthday and Christmas presents lined up for the next few years if you don't get in too much of a hurry. There are a few tools you really should have for safety and basic cooking, but the rest can be acquired over time.
Well, there aren't many moving parts to break on a dutch oven :-) so replacement parts are rarely needed. But, that dropped lid that hit a rock and cracked or that bail handle that got all mangalated might be nice to replace.
I contacted Lodge Manufacturing and they have replacement bail handles for their dutch ovens for around $7.00 Their phone number is 423-837-7181 and you need to tell them the size of your oven.
If yours is not a Lodge, there's a good chance the handle wouldn't fit but then again it might. Or, you can contact the manufacturer of your dutch oven and ask them.
Lodge also has a selection of replacement lids in their catalog.
Prioritized Cooking Tools
Here's the things you can add to your collection in the order I believe they are most needed.
Gloves - thick, lined, leather gloves are an important safety tool. These are red Lodge gloves. I have a pair of grey fireplace gloves that work well.
You can get by with a simple pair of work gloves, but the security and safety of a good pair of barbeque gloves makes it a lot more fun. Without gloves, you should make sure you've got plenty of cold water, bandaids, and extra food for when you drop the whole pot when you get burned.
Lid Lifter - handling the lid without dropping ash in the food or losing coals or getting it dirty is probably the part of dutch oven cooking that requires the most finesse. I started out using pliers to grab the wire bail and lift the oven and then grab the lid handle and lift it. That's hard work and your hands are pretty close to the coals. A lid lifter moves your hands away from the heat, gives you more control, and is a strong, sure hold on the bail or lid. It lifts from underneath rather than using a grip squeeze so there's much less chance of dropping the lid.
Make sure to get one with a three-toed foot similar to the picture. This gives you a firm lift when picking up the lid and reduces swaying. And, remember when you're buying your dutch oven that you get one with a loop handle rather than a solid handle so there is a place for the lid lifter to stick through.
- Shovel or Tongs - I use a small shovel like a garden trowel to scoop coals from the fire to the dutch oven. A nice stainless steel pair of tongs like these work very nicely and keep your hands away from the heat. Some sort of scoop or tongs is very important to a successful cookout.
Scoop and Fork - once the food is done, how are you going to serve it? A long-handled ladle for stews, a long-handled fork for chunks of meat, and a long-handled serving spoon should do fine. Make sure they have no plastic parts that will melt on accident. Barbeque tools don't work too goo unless you don't mind bending the neck so you can reach down into the oven.
I also use wooden spoons to stir food when needed - I like wood better because it is easier on the oven sides.
Coal Starter - If you are a briquette user, one of these is very handy to get hot coals quickly. Some crumpled newspaper in the bottom, a load of briquettes on top, and 15 minutes later you're ready to cook. No need for explosive lighter fluid and all the smell that goes with it.
If you leave briquettes in too long, they just burn up and all that heat is wasted. Get them going and then use them.
If you are cooking something that takes more than 45 minutes, you should start another batch of briquettes after 30 minutes of cooking so they are ready to go when needed.
Lid Stand - Getting dirt on the lid is very bad form, not to mention bad food. A lid stand gives you a convenient, clean place to set the lid.
Three rocks, a couple sticks of wood, or a tuna can work fine too, but what the heck. Get one that folds up so it takes up little room when packing up. This is one of those things I'm pretty sure I'd lose quickly if I ever got one since it's small and black.
Tripod - Now this item is useful for keeping food warm in the dutch oven. If you got the meal ready and folks are still out fishing, then you can hang it over the fire to keep warm but not overcook. An adjustable hook lets you move the oven higher or lower depending on the amount of heat you want.
Having one of these is also useful for other campfire cooking. With a different chain hanging down, you can suspend a grill and do hamburgers and such. It's not high on my list, but would be a fun present.
Storage Bag - Provides protection for your dutch oven when travelling. Also, keeps the rest of your gear clean and away from the soot and seasoning of your dutch oven. Wooden boxes are also available for storing your dutch oven.
Dutch Oven Table - For folks that do dutch oven cooking every weekend or go to tournaments, cooking tables are great to have. Saves a lot of work for your back and brings the cooking up where other folks can see it better. The walls shield the cooking from wind so a more even heat is produced too.
As I get older, I might decide one of these would be nice. Right now, it just seems like way too much work, weight, and clean-up for the cooking I do while camping. And, since I don't use briquettes, I still have to go down to the fire to get coals.
Don't forget the mundane things that you need for cooking. I've seen all these things forgotten at one time or another:
|bio soap||whiskbroom||veggie peeler|
|spice rack||matches||can opener|
|hot pad holder||aluminum foil||pie tins|
|knives||cutting board||cooking oil|
|cheese grater||measuring cups||paper towels|
|bottle opener||water bottle||briquettes|