Ask the Camp Cook: Tips for Terrific Tailgating

By on October 12, 2015
Using a Dutch Oven for Tailgating

C.C.: I love cooking with cast iron like you do, but the events I go to get kinda nuts when I try to light an open campfire in their parking lots or infields. Can I still use my cast iron? – Riley N. – Johnstown, Pennsylvania

 Riley – Of course you, can. Come on’ – just use a little imagination and help from the ol’ Camp Cook.

The fastest way to really becoming a great Dutch Oven cook is to master the use of charcoal. Putting a precise number of gray coals beneath and on top of your Dutch Oven is a science for achieving and holding specific temperatures. Shoveling embers from a campfire is an art and takes much longer to get the hang of. For tailgating, chances are nobody will say two words about you lighting charcoal in a chimney as long as you have a safe place to do it. Just make sure you have a safe storage container for the coals when you’re done with them, too.


One other tip, for this purpose your old C.C. likes regular charcoal briquettes as opposed to lump charcoal. The size and burn is more consistent which makes for better temperature control. Besides, there’s almost no contact with the smoke from the charcoal with the food itself, so there’s no flavor advantage gained here from the more expensive lump charcoal.


Another way to go about it that’s even cleaner and more self-contained is to use the base of the turkey fryer and get yourself a Dutch Oven Dome kit. This kit consists of a heat diffuser plate and a specially designed fire-proof “tent” that fits over a 12-inch Dutch Oven.

Cast Iron Campfire Cooking

Place the diffuser plate on the burner. Place your Dutch Oven atop the plate and cover it with the dome. Then light the burner. The dome traps, diverts, and circulates the heat creating a makeshift convection oven that’s extremely effective when cooking with a cast iron Dutch Oven. It’s like the fanciest baking rig you can get in your home kitchen. The domes even work on top of a charcoal or gas grill if you want. The Dutch Oven Dome holds in so much heat, it’s wise to experiment with it ahead of time to learn temperature control before breaking it out at the next tailgate party.

Cast iron and tailgating? Yes sir! They go together like bacon and beans. Go light ‘em up!– C.C.


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