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Heart of Louisiana: Dutch Oven

It’s an old style of cooking in cast iron pots that creates a tasty outdoor meal. You can see a free demonstration and get a great lunch at some state parks.
Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s an old style of cooking in cast iron pots that creates a tasty outdoor meal. And you can see a free demonstration and get a great lunch at a number of state parks.

The fires and hot coals feel especially good on a chili breezy spring morning. They’re cooking everything from breakfast to soups, stews, entrees, and desserts

“Today’s cabbage and cornbread and tart roots,” said Dennis Allen, of Fluker.

Allen is one of more than a dozen Dutch oven chefs who started stoking their small fires at 8 am.

“I’m cooking chicken, vegetable, barley, stew. And, my son’s cooking too. He’s making, venison, dirty rice. My daughter-in-law’s making two different kinds of cobblers,” said Paula Humphries.

Humphries and her family have a portable fire pit for their cast iron Dutch oven pots.

“Looked fun and get to feed people. And we joined right in,” said Humphries.

The Dutch ovens have short legs to hold the pots above the hot coals and a ridge around their flat lids to hold coals. On top, there is a science to this.

“They have charts, you know, it tells you how many coals to you use on bottom and on top to get Dutch oven a certain temperature, you know, like, say you want 350 degrees, you put eight coals on the bottom 16 on top, like I’m baking a apple cobble right here. I’ve got it set at about 350 or so,” said Alan Passman.

“There’s a lot times that you think is something burning on bottom. And it’s actually not. I mean that pot’s pretty evenly distributed. You know,” said Allen.

All of the cooks here are part of the Louisiana Dutch Oven Society. They prepare lunch on the second Saturday of each month at Bogue Chitto Park in Franklinton. The Dutch oven and enthusiasts have chapters all across Louisiana. And those groups are doing similar cooking demonstrations at many of the state parks.

“I love to cook, love to eat. I love to feed people and we have a contract with the park and we commit to just giving to the park feeding people. And anytime you travel, check out the state parks,” said Kelly Milligan.

The club does accept small donations that help pay for charcoal and some improvements to the park pavilion. Members provide the food and the joy of cooking.

“I’ve cooked spaghetti squash casserole. I’ve cooked the regular chilies, the beans, the jambalaya just anything you cook on on, on the oven at home in your oven can do right here,” said Milligan.

“I like to say that when you cook cast iron, all the calories and the cholesterol is gone,” said Allen.

It’s all about the flavor, the friendships and sharing, and just spending a little time enjoying the outdoors.

To learn more about Dutch oven cooking and to get some favorite recipes, click here.

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