Skip to main content

Dutch Oven Apple Crisp - A n00b's Guide

As my son has advanced in Scouting, I have continued to take classes and learn new things, too. One thing that is taught at every level of Scouting is Dutch Oven cooking. They take on an almost mythic proportion. A grizzled instructor will take out a 30lb, cast iron pot, start some charcoal, and pretty soon you have an amazing dinner. The people who really know how to use them can cook just about anything. At first it seems a bit over the top because it does take a bit of effort and you need a lot of gadgets, but I can tell you that good, hot food out of a Dutch Oven really can make a camping trip something special. Also, all men like gadgets and cooking with fire, so really it is a win-win.

I have helped people cook, and I have done a little of my own cooking in a Dutch Oven, and I have reached the conclusion that the recipe writers all have some kind of conspiracy going. It is quite possible that I am just a n00b, but their cooking times are all off by about half, and it is my opinion that it is because they don't use enough charcoal. For example, the recipe below is taken from the book that came with my Dutch Oven, and it says that, if I use a certain number of pieces of charcoal, then it will add up to 350 degrees. I am going to call shenanigans on that because, when I tried it, the water from the apples never boiled. I am no Iron Chef (boo - terrible pun), but when I went to school I seem to remember someone telling me that water boiled at 212 degrees, and I seem to remember someone else telling me that 212 < 350, so I would expect the water to boil. Maybe the water had sugar in it which raised it's boiling point? Well, pbbth! The oatmeal never cooked so we need more heat. So there. Anyway, what does it matter? Have you ever been camping in a downpour with a bunch of starving, cold Scouts who keep asking every 10 seconds if dinner is ready? I can assure you - time matters. With this in mind, here is my modified recipe for Dutch Oven Apple Crisp with an improved ingredients list (better taste) and the correct cooking instructions.

Dutch Oven Apple Crisp


The ingredients can be prepared in advance (at home, for example) in 2 different, 1 gallon zip-lock bags. Put each mixture into its own bag, zip shut, and then squish around to mix. It is probably a good idea to keep them cool if it will be a while before they are used.

Essential Preparation Equipment:
  • Norpro Apple Master. You can make this recipe without an Apple Master. Then again, you can take your clothes down to the river and wash them with a washboard, but I don't think that is going to happen. Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you become obsessed with peeling apples after using one.

Apple Mixture:
  • 10 cups Granny Smith apples (about 8 large apples, or 10 smaller ones), peeled and sliced. 
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 big lemon)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cranberry raisins (Craisins)

Topping Mixture:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups butter, melted
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 T nutmeg

Baking Equipment:

Baking:
  • Set up your cooking area somewhere where it is OK to have a fire, and have your bucket of water handy.
  • Use the Newspaper and the Charcoal Starter to get the Charcoal started. Everyone will tell you that this only takes 20 to 30 min. This is Scout time. In actual Earth time it is at least 45 minutes. When the charcoal at the top of the Charcoal Starter Chimney start to turn gray, then dump out the charcoal so the hottest ones will be on top. While you are waiting for the Charcoal, you can move on to the next 3 steps....
  • Grease Dutch Oven with Pam (do not spray near the fire...)
  • Spread apple mixture in the bottom of the Dutch Oven
  • Spread the topping mixture evenly on top of the apple mixture.
  • Cover and bake with 16 coals under the oven and 24 on the lid for 30 min. Give the lid a quarter turn every 10 min. (Yes, that is a lot of charcoal, but it will actually cook the food correctly and really be done in 30 min.)
  • After baking, remove the Dutch Oven from the heat and remove the charcoals from the lid. Be careful about this so you don't dump ashes into your apple crisp when you remove the lid. Let the Dutch Oven sit covered with the lid (with no charcoal on it) for 20 min so the apple crisp will set up and not be watery. It will also be nice and warm after 20 min as opposed to lava hot. 
  • If you are an insane person and are camping in arctic conditions, you will probably need to adjust the times in this recipe - or just stay home where it is warm.

The apple crisp is good alone, or with vanilla ice cream on top. This recipe supposedly serves 8 to 10, but it really serves 15 to 20, depending on the people, the availability of ice cream, and how big their dinner was.

Prep time: 30 min if you have a Norpro Apple Master. If you have Scouts doing the prep, allow *a lot* of time.

Charcoal prep: 45 min if you have a Weber Charcoal Starter Chimney

Cooking: 50 min (30 baking + 20 resting)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How To Make School Lunches More Nutritious: Re-Define Words

If you are a parent of a child who attends public school in Washington, and if you have even a vague recollection of the food pyramid , you probably will have noticed that the lunches that are served in school cafeterias are frequently at odds with the rules of good nutrition. The school is not wrong, however. They have just re-defined words and you are not keeping up. Pop quiz:  Cheese belongs to what food group? *bzzz* - wrong. You said that cheese was in the diary food group , right? No! Pbth! How boringly accurate of you. Cheese magically transforms into a protein when it is served on pizza or in a bread stick! I know that you may be dubious, but I contacted Wendy Barkley, RD,  who is the Acting Supervisor of School Nutrition Programs in the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and she assured me that it is so. To quote her email to me: " Pizza remains an option for schools for their menus.  The cheese on pizza is counted as a protein in t

Global Entry - The TSA Trusted Traveler Program - or - How to Go In The Short Line At The Airport Security

Ever since September 11th, 2001, flying has been a hassle. With each failed attempt to smuggle explosives on an airplane, the TSA makes us get more undressed at airport security. In fact, for really early morning flights, we should probably all just show up in our jammies and then get dressed once we are through the scanner because currently we get up, get dressed, go to the airport, get half undressed, go through security, and then get dressed again. For quite some time, people have been asking the TSA so implement some kind of pre-screening program where travelers could have a background check in advance, and then be allowed to go in a shorter line. That day is finally here, and the TSA is now rolling out a Trusted Traveler Program known as Global Entry . In a nutshell, you pay $100, fill out some online forms, go in for an interview, present your proof of ID, and get fingerprinted and photographed. Yes, it sounds like some red tape, but then, every time you make an airline reser

Rooftop Playgrounds

This week I have had some meetings in a tall building in downtown Seattle, and when I took a moment to look around and enjoy the view I have noticed playgrounds on rooftops. I saw this daycare playground: and this playground on top of a school: I think that this is a really cool use of space. A friend that grew up in NYC said that her school had a rooftop playground, too. The delinquent in me wonders how many toys and balls go over the side, but I bet the teachers are pretty strict about that. Downtown Seattle has always seemed a little unfriendly towards kids and it is neat to see spaces being carved out.