Cast iron cookware is among the most versatile to use in a car camping or backyard setting. It is relatively inexpensive, can handle as much heat as you can throw at it, and as non-stick as anything if seasoned properly. This post as been a long time coming. See part one of My Outdoor Cooking Setup to learn about my smokers.
I’m still pretty new to cast iron cooking, which makes it even more fun to experiment. Here’s what my collection looks like!
I have 4 dutch ovens in my collection. Technically, my dutch ovens should be referred to as camp ovens, cowboy ovens or chuckwagon ovens because they have legs on the bottom that allow room for coals to be placed underneath. Other styles don’t have the legs and are meant to be used on flat cooking surfaces, such as a stove top.
I have a 4 quart oven that is perfect for making small meals for two or three people. It also works well as a cake pan for making single layer cakes, brownies, or cornbread. When Liz and I go camping by ourselves, this one usually goes with us.
Next, there are two 6 quart dutch ovens. These are 12 inches in diameter. Often recipes will refer to the size of oven needed by stating the diameter rather than the volume. These ovens can be used for all kinds of things. Casseroles, pot roast, soups and stews.
The size lends itself to cooking for a crowd. An oven full of stew could feed 15 or 20 people, so it’s rather efficient that way.
I’ve also used the lid of these ovens as a pizza stone. Make pancakes or French Toast this way as well.
I also have a 20 quart dutch oven. I picked it up for only a few bucks, but I haven’t figured out a method to season it. I just don’t have a heat source big enough to handle this baby. If you have any suggestions on this, please leave a comment. It’s been sitting in my basement for 5 or 6 years waiting for a solution!
We inherited a set of cast iron skillets from someone in Liz’s lineage. Where exactly escapes me at the moment. They have all been around a long time and are still as good as new — better, I suppose, because they are well seasoned now.
We have 8-, 10-, and 12-inch skillets. The smallest one is perfect for cornbread in the regular oven. The others get used on the stove, in the oven, and on the grill. Try the Cast Iron Skillet Apple Crisp.
Grills and Griddles
There are a lot of options for grills and griddles. I already mentioned you can use the lid of a dutch oven as a griddle. You can buy special grill pans, although I think they are overrated. Lodge makes a Hibachi-style grill, if you’re interested.
I have a combination grill and griddle. It is smooth on one side and has a grill pattern on the other side. Honestly, I only used the grill side once to see what it was like. I’d rather use a real grill. The griddle side, however is a different story. It is very handy for browning onions and peppers, and making burgers.
There are a couple of tools that are absolutely necessary to get the most out of your cast iron cooking.
If you use dutch ovens, you need a lid lifter. Mine is pictured above. You can spend $10 on one of these or you can spend $100. Either way, they are the safest, most effective way to lift the lids off your dutch ovens.
Heat resistant gloves are another cheap insurance policy against burns. Typically made of leather, you can find them either in the outdoor cooking section of your favorite sporting goods store or you can buy a pair of welding gloves. They are the same thing. I have both. The welding gloves were a couple bucks cheaper, but we’re talking less than $20 either way.
Tongs are essential for adding, removing, and manipulating coals. They work well and are inexpensive. I recommend the Vollrath Versagrip 16-inch tongs. You can get them in the BackyardLifeBlog.com Shop.
There are a few things that I’d like to add to my collection.
- Lodge Original Finish Camp Dutch Oven Lid Stand — This keeps lids off the ground when you set them down. It also provides a stand for the lid when using it as a griddle.
- Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 8-Inch Cast-Iron Meat Rack/Trivet — A dutch oven trivet keeps roasts and pans off the bottom of the oven to prevent scorching.
- Round muffin pans — I don’t know if these even exist. I haven’t been able to find them. I want them to fit into my 12″ dutch ovens to make it easy to make muffins and cupcakes.
- Round cookie sheet with some way to easily remove them from the dutch oven — I’m muddling over design ideas for this one.
That’s my collection. If you’re looking for more resources for cast iron cooking, here are two of my favorite websites to scrounge for recipes:
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