As one of the oldest forms of outdoor cooking, Dutch oven cooking is one of my favorite ways to prepare a meal. Roasting, stewing, frying - even baking - anything is possible in a Dutch oven. The Dutch oven is designed to be hung over open-flame fires, placed on the ground over coals or buried underground in coals.

- Open Flame: A teepee fire or a lazy man's fire can be used when the Dutch oven is used as a kettle. The kettle is hooked to a tripod and hung over the open fire like a spit. It can also be hooked onto the end of a pole that is placed on a large rock, with another heavy rock anchoring it down at the other end.- Charcoal Briquets: Charcoal briquets are the easiest way of creating heat in the Dutch oven. Once they are hot, they will last approximately an hour to an hour and half, giving your oven consistent and quality heat. If you are going to fry in your Dutch oven, just place charcoal briquettes underneath the oven and watch how it fries. If it is cooking much faster than it cooks at home, remove a few of the briquettes. If it is slower, add a few more. As you practice, you will gain the technique to cook it just the way you want.

When baking in the Dutch oven, there is a technique used to create a 325-degree oven.

First, take the size of your oven. This will be the number that is on the top of the lid. For example, if it is a No. 10 Dutch oven, you would subtract three, giving you seven briquets to place under the oven. You then add those three to the 10 (equaling 13) and place them on the lid of the oven. This will be the best temperature for baking anything you want.

If you are using charcoal briquets to make coals, place the number of briquets on both the top and bottom of the Dutch oven according to the following suggestions. Leave about a 2-inch-square space between briquets, forming a checkerboard pattern.

Size Briquets Briquets

of Oven on top: on bottom:

8-inch 11 5

10-inch 13 7

12-inch 15 9

14-inch 17 11

16-inch 19 13

- Coals: Coals from a campfire can be used to cook in a Dutch oven. It is best if you have hard wood, which will create very hot coals that will last long enough to cook your food. Oak or wood from fruit trees are in the hard wood category. Softer wood, such as aspen, will be hot in the beginning, but lose its heat rapidly.

Here is one of the best Dutch oven recipes you'll ever try!

Cowboy Potatoes

You'll need:

12 medium potatoes, sliced

3 medium onions, diced

12 slices bacon, diced

salt and pepper to taste

1 to 2 cups frozen peas

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Brown the bacon in a 12-inch Dutch oven using 15 coals on the bottom. When well browned, use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from the grease. Place bacon on paper towel to drain and set aside.

Lightly brown onions in the bacon grease. Stir in sliced potatoes and salt and pepper. Cook 35-40 minutes until potatoes are tender. Use 9 coals on the bottom and 15 on top. When potatoes are tender, stir in frozen peas and bacon. Sprinkle cheese on top. Remove coals from the bottom but leave approximately 15 coals on the lid to melt the cheese. Serves 8 to 10.