Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter

Here's the latest issue of Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter from Northern California. Email Don at to receive an electronic copy.

Don said in a recent email: "Your Blogger site is working. I am getting requests for our newsletter from Utah, Kansas, Michigan, New York and Vermont."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Barbecued Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where food is almost as important as the meaning behind the holiday. I’m thankful to have been raised in a family that agrees with me. It doesn’t matter which direction we travel -- south to one of the in-law’s houses, or to my sister’s in San Jose -- a roasted turkey awaits us.

A barbecued turkey at Thanksgiving -- or any other time of the year -- is simply divine. It's browned to perfection in the barbecue. Instead of filling the house with the pleasant aroma of a roasting turkey, you’ll be inviting all of your neighbors as its scent wafts over the fence into their yard. Better set extra place settings just in case.


I find that a fifteen-pound turkey is about right for the barbecue. But the important question is this: Will the turkey fit under the dome lid? On their Website, Weber advises that turkeys over 24 pounds may not fit under the lid of their barbecue kettles.

Completely thaw your turkey before grilling. It should be thawed in the refrigerator. A 15-pound turkey takes about three days to thaw. Thaw the turkey on the lowest shelf and place it over a pan to catch juices. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature.

I don’t recommend stuffing the bird. Instead, place the stuffing into a baking pan and place the pan on the grill (or in a Dutch oven) during the last 45 to 60 minutes that the turkey is on the grill. Use a thermometer to test the stuffing for doneness. It should reach 165 degrees. If the stuffing isn’t hot enough, leave it on the grill while the turkey cools. A colorful alternative is to stuff green, red and yellow bell peppers with your favorite stuffing. Grill alongside the turkey.

1 (15 pound) turkey, thawed if frozen
Olive or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 chopped medium onion
2 stalks diced celery
2 diced carrots

Consult the instructions for your charcoal barbecue kettle before proceeding. The amount of needed charcoal briquettes will vary slightly from model to model. This recipe is written for the Weber 22-1/2-inch Bar-B-Kettle™ Grill.

Ignite 50 charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they are barely covered with ash, about 20 to 30 minutes. While charcoal is burning, rinse thoroughly turkey under running cold water and pat dry. Rub skin with oil. Season with salt and pepper inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, on a baking rack.

When charcoal is ready, place an even number of briquettes on the left and right sides of the lower grill. Place a drip pan between the charcoal. Position the cooking grill with the handles directly over the charcoal. This will make adding fresh briquettes easier. Adjust the top and bottom vents to maintain the barbecue at 325 degrees.

Place the turkey (in the baking rack) on the cooking grill. Make sure to center the turkey directly over the drip pan. Cover barbecue kettle. Add 7 charcoal briquettes to each side each hour. A 15-pound turkey is done in about 3 hours. During the last hour of grilling, add onion, carrot and celery to drip pan if desired to flavor drippings. You don’t have to turn or baste the turkey.

When the thermometer reaches 170 degrees in the breast or 180 degrees in the thigh, remove turkey from the grill. Let cool about 20 minutes before carving. The meat just under the skin will be pink. Figure about 1 pound of turkey (with bones) for each person.

Strain vegetables into a pint-sized measuring cup. Skim fat from drippings. Discard vegetables. Reserve 1/4 cup of the fat for the gravy, and discard the remainder. Serve sliced turkey with camp mashed potatoes and turkey gravy.

According the Weber Website, unstuffed turkeys will take:

10-11 pounds -- 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours
12-14 pounds -- 2-1/4 to 3 hours
15-17 pounds -- 2-3/4 to 3-3/4 hours
18-22 pounds -- 3-1/2 to 4hours
23-24 pounds -- 4 to 4-1/2 hours

This article was originally posted on in November 2000.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Dutch Oven at El Dorado County Historical Museum

Two weeks ago, while working on rolling stock for the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation, Keith took me inside the county museum to view a recently donated Dutch oven.

Here's a few photographs of the cast iron oven:

The oven measures about 9-1/2 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep. The only marking that I found is the number 8 on the lid.

The interior of the oven. Note that it need to be scrubbed and re-seasoned.

The underside of the oven.

The inside of the lid. Note the rust. The oven is in very good shape.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Beef Stew

Although I've been enjoying a self-imposed sabbatical from 'Round the Chuckbox, it's time to get cookin' again. My son and I enjoyed a simple beef stew last night that I baked in the oven

Here's the recipe:


2 pounds beef chuck roast, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped.
1 cup red wine
1-1/2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
4 medium potatoes, cut ieighth'shths

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season cubed beef chuck roast salt and ground black pepper. Brown beef in hot oil in a 3-quart Dutch oven in 2 to 3 batches to avoid overcrowding. Remove each batch of beef to a plate after it is browned. Sauté onions in hot oil until browned, about 5 minutes.

Return browned beef to Dutch oven. Add red wine, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, bay leaves and thyme to Dutch oven. Stir, replace lid and set inside oven. Bake for 1 hour. Prepare a slurry by whisking flour into 1/2-cup cold water. Remove lid and pour slurry into stew. Immediately stir until thickened. Replace lid and return to oven.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Bring 1-quart salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add potatoes and carrots. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking until fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain vegetables. Remove stew from the oven Stir vegetables into the stew. Return stew to the oven. Continue cooking until beef is tender.

Total cooking time for the stew will be approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Makes about 2 quarts.