Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dutch oven cookout at camp

When I arrive at camp last year my focus was to get the kitchen ready for staff and campers. I had little time to enjoy a Dutch oven cookout with the cooks. My first week went to writing a new menu, working on vendor relationships and cleaning the kitchen that's dormant eight months of the year. Once the cooks arrived, the focus shifted to training them to cook my recipes and molding them into a cohesive team.

Opening the kitchen this year has been much smoother for me. Outside of revising the menu and training a new crew, the 2014 start up has been a bit less busy. I didn't have to reinvent every process or procedure. I'm spending my time improving on what we did last year and training new cooks (only one 2013 cook returned).

I've added a new feature to our pre-camp evening program. Once each week the cooks enjoy a dinner cookout. We held our first one last night on the barbecue patio that's adjacent to the kitchen. Using the New Braunfels charcoal charcoal grill, I grilled marinated steaks, then set them in a 12-inch camp oven to braise. Nine staff (kitchen, maintenance, housekeeping and leadership) joined in for a fun meal on the patio.

After trimming an eye of round, I cut it into around 20 steaks. I flattened each steak with a heavy bacon press.  
The steaks marinated in a (mildly) spicy guajillo chili sauce. To my guajillo adobo sauce, I added a bit of vinegar, juice of 2 limes, couple tablespoons chopped cilantro and a splash of olive oil. The steaks marinated in the refrigerator for around 4 hours.
The steaks were grilled over a hot charcoal fire in the camp barbecue grill. I set the 20 steaks on a bed of thick onion rings. The onion rings acted as a trivet and flavored meat and resulting sauce.
Since I didn't want to burn the charcoal briquettes on the concrete deck, an inverted 17-inch Lodge skillet served as the Dutch oven table. Five coals under the oven and around 20 on the lid were used to tenderize the steaks (at approximately 350 degrees). It takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours to cook the steaks to the point when they're fork tender. Be ready for a change of coals after 45 minutes. I poured the marinade over the steaks at the halfway point.
The menu for dinner was grilled steaks with spicy guajillo sauce, rice pilaf and succotash with spinach.


  1. Cousin, you surely know how to eat well. That meal looks delicious!

  2. Thanks, Bill. Comments from kin are always welcome on 'Round the Chuckbox.

    Bob, missed seeing you this year at the conference. Deb and I need to make it next year.