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Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - eDJ_ - 05-12-2019

A piece of equipment I like to carry in my rig is a cast iron Dutch Oven.  DO's as those of us who are well experienced with them like to refer to them.  I have 4 of them ranging from 2 to 8 quart in size.  As a bit of Trivia, when Lewis & Clark returned from their expedition, Thomas Jefferson asked them what was the most valuable piece of equipment that they took with them (and they took some impressive things) on the expedition.  Their answer was the cast iron Dutch Ovens.

So if you pack one along in your journeys,  you may come to feel the same way.  Camp DO's have a special lid with a rim to hold coals on top of it and legs under it in order for it to straddle the coals that heat the bottom.

So to the Mac & Cheese.  

Here is my recipe. (it is rich and those I put it before make it disappear quickly) 

DO Mac & Cheese

Boil 3 cups of elbow to al dente in a large pot and drain

In a separate pot, make your sauce

Heat half pint of heavy whipping cream with about 3 cups of milk, half a stick of butter, and a small package of Cream Cheese.
Make a roux of 3 TB of Flour and half a stick of margarine or butter.
As the roux gets to a medium brown color whisk in the cream, milk, and cream cheese

Then add...while wisking 

1/2 C of Parmesan cheese
1 TB of garlic Salt
1 TB black pepper
1 TB dry Mustard
1 TB yellow prepared mustard

Put some of the cream, milk and cream cheese mixture in a small bowl and add one egg and beat.  (tempering the egg)

add this back into the sauce mixture along with

2 tsp of Paprika
1 tsp of Seasoning Salt

Have ready  a 4 Cup bag of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese opened (reserveing 1 Cup for the top crust)

The DO should be seasoned well with margarine then layered the bottom with the first tier of cooked
macaroni and added enough shredded sharp cheddar
to cover it, and add  sauce to cover that.  This is repeated three times or so in the 6 Qt DO. (12 inch) 
On the top cover this with Italian Seasoned bread crumbs, some Parmesan, and the last cup of
sharp Cheddar to melt into it and make a good crunchy cheese topping. 
I also put about seven pats of butter over top of the macaroni before
covering with the cheese.

Last, pour some milk gently down the side of the Dutch Oven until if fills just up to the bread crumbs but is still below them.  it won't take much.  Now it's time to place the lid on the Dutch Oven and bake it in the campfire.  The lid will be covered with some embers too.

This cooks for a half hour rotating the DO 1/3 turn every 10 minutes and then turning the lid 1/3 of a turn each time.  When finished remove from the fire and lift lid off and dump the coals off the lid completely (away from the food) before replacing the lid. This will rest about 15 minutes
before serving.

[Image: DO_Mac_cooked.jpg]

DO's in the campfire

[Image: IMG_0004.JPG]

If you are concerned about having and maintaining a certain temperature while baking it is easier to use 
charcoal briquettes that you ignite in a chimney.

Here is a graph showing temps and the number of briquettes that should be on top and below the DO to
have that temperature. 

[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT6P6EleZ4Nf8pAHOC-rMi...GvwjGyv41j]

As an example,  a 12 inch DO to have a 350 degree F temp you would need 17 briquettes on the lid and 
8 briquettes under it.  Generally the larger number of coals goes on the lid and the smaller number under it.

I also have a recipe for making escalloped potatoes which is similar but it uses a bit of prepared horseradish. (but the horseradish can be left out if you don't like that seasoning)

And the potatoes go just as fast as the Mac & Cheese

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - highdesertranger - 05-12-2019

mmmmm sounds good. I also have DO's. one thing to make clear, don't boil the noodles in the DO in fact don't boil anything or your cast iron seasoning ends up in whatever your are cooking. which really isn't a bad thing but it turns whatever you cook very dark almost black. just to be clear if you are cooking something and it boils its not a big deal, it's when you are boiling something for prolong times like pasta or soups or beans. high acid foods like tomato sauces will do it to, if you leave them in the DO to long. highdesertranger

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - eDJ_ - 05-13-2019

Very good points HDR.  

Maybe we'll get some DO cooks posting in this and perhaps some recipes.

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - highdesertranger - 05-13-2019

I use this no knead bread recipe from Mother Earth News.

this bread comes out great in a DO and it is super easy to make.

couple more tips. I also have a cast iron pie pan. it fits inside my large DO. I put a trivet in first, so that the pie pan doesn't sit on the bottom of the DO. with this arrangement I can cook meat pies like shepherd pie, hamburger pie, and regular pies like apple pie or pumpkin pie.

I have a couple super secret camps that have apple trees that were planted many years ago. makes for great pies in the fall.

I watch Kent Rollins on YouTube he cooks a lot in DO's. great cooking show, he has a very down home, easy going attitude.


RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - XERTYX - 05-14-2019

(05-13-2019, 07:44 AM)highdesertranger Wrote:  I have a couple super secret camps that have apple trees that were planted many years ago.  makes for great pies in the fall.

Ooh. Sneaky devil. Haha. My favorite place in the world is COVERED in blackberry bushes. Some are the smaller tart berries and some are the shorter plants with larger sweeter fruit. I make lots of fine cobblers and such with them. That is if I can pick them fast enough. If I'm picking them too slowly they disappear for some reason. Also I wind up having a full belly. It's a strange phenomenon. 

Where I grew up we had 10 acres that were mostly heavily wooded. Lots of fruit trees. Cherries, apples of all kinds, pears, chestnuts,  a secret vineyard I found in a small clearing with white and red seeded grapes, pecan trees, all sorts of wild edibles. 

I definitely didnt grow up thinking that food comes from a grocery store.

I have quite a few cast iron pans and ovens. I dont have any fab recipes to share but I can share some cleaning and maintenance procedures I use.

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - highdesertranger - 05-14-2019

for sure share away. highdesertranger

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - XERTYX - 05-14-2019

Well the best way to season cast iron IMO is to super heat them in an oven or an enclosed woodburning grill. Then scrubbing away the old season that remains with a wire brush or sand paper. This is useful if you find some old rusty cast iron at a garage sale or in grandma's old barn etc. Then heat it again for a long time and remove and slather with lard or crisco shortening. Be aware it will smoke and probably flame up when it gets hot enough. Keep slathering with fat and let it slowly cool.

Before first use after seasoning this way it can be useful to boil some water in it and mop it out with paper towels to remove black bits like HDR mentioned previously if you boil water in cast iron.

Regular maintenance. Stuck on bits can be removed by heating on a propane stove and adding water when its screaming hot. Carefully scrub out with a green scrub pad like you find at the dollar store. If it was very greasy a drop or two of soap can be added with the water. But too much soap will break the surface tension of the oil and strip the seasoning away.

Another method to use instead of water that's a bit more effective but can also strip the oils is to heat and pour in white vinegar. Then scrub.

Another way to scrub is to warm it up and pour in table salt and scrub with a green scrubber. You can also use those copper colored metal scrubbing pads. Avoid using steel wool unless its the soap free kind. If your box of table salt has gotten hard and stuck together in a lump this is ideal. Cut the cardboard away and use it like a pumice stone to scrub with.

If quick seasoning cast iron without a real fire just on the cooktop strip it using the water, soap, and vinegar methods above and get it as hot as you can and spray it down with cooking spray. Oddly enough the dollar tree coconut oil spray has worked best for me. At any rate check the ingredients and try and find one without soy lecithin or any lecithin. Cooking spray with flour in it will make you pull your hair out. Lecithin and flour will bake on dark crispy patches which need to be scraped off. High lecithin content spray will cook down into a jelly that needs scraping off. The jelly spot or burnt patches when scraped clean will reveal shiny unseasoned surfaces and it needs to be seasoned a second third maybe 4th time.

Please note these are for cast iron. I'm told that some "cast iron" pans are actually cast aluminum. Cast aluminum WILL crack if you dump cold water in it when its screaming hot from what I understand. If in doubt stick a magnet to it. If the magnet wont stick its aluminum or some other metal.

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - Kaylee - 05-15-2019

eDJ_: wow!!! Thanks for sharing! Smile

Way too elaborate for me (plus I'm TBI and wood smoke crashes my brain), but that looks awesome. Smile
How many does it feed?

How much does the mustard add to it?
Some of the versions of the Geek-proof recipe I posted include mustard. I simplified that out.
I'd love for you or any other Food Hacker to experiment with & jazz that up, while keeping it easy. Smile

RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - highdesertranger - 05-15-2019

what is TBI?

this seems to happen in waves. please define your abbreviations.


RE: Mac & Cheese in a Camp Dutch Oven - Kaylee - 05-15-2019

TBI == Traumatic Brain Injury

Yes, this close to The Dreaded Day in May, more 'mericans than usual forget what that term means. Sad