Dutch Oven Cook-Off

Blaine County Extension is hosting it's annual Dutch Oven Cook-Off!  The past two years it was during the Sugarbeet Festival here in Chinook.  Since there won't be a Sugarbeet Festival this year, the Blaine County Cruisers decided to still have their car show!  They have graciously invited us to "tag along" and have our Dutch Oven Cook-Off down at the fairgrounds as well.  We are excited to see everyone at the car show, jam-packed with family -friendly fun!!

Click here to see the flyer for this year's Dutch Oven Cook-Off

Download the full Entry Packet today!!  Simply print and fill out and turn in the first page to enter.  Be sure to read all the rules and brush up on your food safety knowledge so you are ready to compete this SUNDAY!!  You can also download just the section you want: Entry Form, Rules, & general Food Safety Information.  There is NO registration fee- and everyone is welcome to join.  Dust off your cast iron and pull out your favorite recipes, and come join us for some backyard cookin'!


A little "Dutch Oven" History...

Dutch Oven cooking is one of the oldest and remains one of the most popular methods of outdoor cooking.  Back in the days when most every meal was fixed over an open hearth, one tool that was indispensable for quality cooking was the Dutch Oven.  Lewis & Clark listed it as their most essential piece of equipment during their great Northwestern trek in the early 1800's.

The original Dutch Ovens were invented by a many named Abraham Darby, who traveled from England to Holland in the 1700's to learn the Dutch casting process of making brass vessels cast in dry sand molds.  With his new found knowledge, he began experimenting and eventually patenting a casting process to improve casting smoothness.  He soon began to cast pots and then shipping them to the new colonies, and even throughout the world.  These early Dutch Ovens were made of cast iron with a flat bottom and sides, and had short legs to hold the pot off the coals.  The flanged lid allowed hot coals to be held on top so the food inside would be surrounded by heat.

The origins of the name "Dutch Oven," has been debated.  Some suggest that it comes from the original Dutch process  for casting the metal cooking pots that Abraham Darby studied while in Holland.  Although Darby improved upon this process, it is still believed that the name "Dutch Oven" was a salute to that process. 

Another theory is that cast iron cookware was used by early American settlers.  As more and more people moved to and lied in America, the need for more cookware also rose.  This lead to some of the nations "door-to-door salesman."  Among these, early Dutch traders began peddling cast iron pots, and thus may have been responsible for the name "Dutch Oven." 

And another popular theory is that the name came from the Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania area who used similar cast iron pots or kettles.

Wherever the term came from, it is safe to say that these cast iron ovens have been present throughout many historical events in America's past.  These durable and multi-use pots have allowed generations of Americans to cook foods in a variety of ways.  Soups can be boiled, stews can be simmered, meat can be roasted, and bread and cakes can be baked...all in the same pot.  Whether it was Lewis & Clark's only cooking vessels during their epic journey across the country; a Colonial woman's go-to pot to bake bread or make chicken and dumplings; a Gold Miners favorite campfire pot to make some grub; a staple piece of cookware for those feeding the crews on the Transcontinental railroad; or used to make a signature pot of beans for the cowboy out on the dusty trail ...the "Dutch Oven" has played a critical part in feeding those who have helped to build our country. 

There have been many changes over the years to Dutch ovens.  What we refer to today as "Dutch Ovens" bear little resemblance to the original pots that bore that same name.  Lodge manufacturing, the largest manufacturer of "Dutch Ovens," refers to the pots with flat bottoms, round lids, and no legs as "Dutch Ovens."  They refer to the original design "Camp ovens."  Many people who enjoy Dutch Oven cooking, prefer the original design.  The short, built-in legs support the pot above the coals, while the flanged lid holds coals on top.  This design allows the pot to be surrounded by heat and makes for a more even cooking process.  The flat lid can also be inverted and doubled as a griddle. The flat lids and flat bottoms with legs also allows the pots to be stacked high to conserve heat by allowing the "top coals" from one pot to double as the "bottom coals" to another pot.  This also conserves space, making it convenient in any campsite. 

Today, people are rediscovering the joys and refining the skills of Dutch Oven cooking!