Sunday, June 12, 2005

More Thoughts on Dutch Oven Potatoes with Dried Cranberries

I need to emphasise the two-hour baking time for the Dutch oven potatoes with dried cranberries. Like many layered dishes, this recipe needs time to settle into a cohesive product, much like the process a lasagna goes through.

I remember from The Cowboy's Kitchen with host Tori Richie that the dish cooks down to a single layer. It's then cut it into squares or wedges for service.

I don't recommend that you fill the Dutch oven completely with potatoes and cranberries. Half-way is about right for this dish. This gives you sufficient headroom to allow the top heat to penetrate through the dish. The potatoes will compress as they cook.

When overfilled, Dutch oven potatoes with dried cranberries will not cook properly. Layered dishes need time to compress into a single structure that stands on its own when cut into individual servings. You won't be rewarded with a wonderful dish if you pull the heat from the Dutch oven too soon. Be patient and do some fishing. The wait is worth the effort.

Note that this principle mainly applies to layered dishes. Moist dishes like stews, soups and chilies because rely on bottom heat to cook. The liquid environment will move heat through the dish rapidly.

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