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Hopefully avoiding dutch oven disaster...?

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  • Hopefully avoiding dutch oven disaster...?

    This next weekend I want to attempt reheating some premade and frozen meals using an aluminum dutch oven. Looking for some advice...

    I did a trial run on a fancy meat pie recipe (Tourtiere - Holiday Meat Pie - Food Wishes - YouTube​) and while it turned out pretty good, there is no way I want to make it from scratch over a fire. So my question is, can I take the second one I made and freeze it now, pack and pulk it into camp, and reheat it in camp? Or am I doomed to scorch the piecrust while trying to reheat it in a dutch oven. Or am I doomed to melt the oven because the meal won't fill up the entire oven like something like a stew would. What are my odds of success? Any technique suggestions that will increase my odds?

    I think I want to do something similar with a pre-made egg dish -- like premade omelets, that sort of thing. Any words of wisdom for trying to heat those up without scorching?

    Figured I would ask the question and maybe prevent learning the hard way (make a mistake) --- my usual method.
    Last edited by jamieS; 01-01-2023, 05:07 PM.

  • #2
    Your Dutch oven will not melt, it'll be fine.

    For reheating I would space the pie or whatever you are reheating up off the bottom on a rack or some stones inside the Dutch oven and go for it.
    Just like an oven at home, you don't throw everything into the bottom of it either, you fine tune it by moving the racks.
    I think it should work good for reheating, and I like the idea. Because cooking for me is a survival skill not a fun hobby. I cook because I have to. or I'll starve to death.
    Elaborate cooking in the woods just ain't for me, elaborate eating.......... now that I can get into.


    • #3
      A variant of what Justin describes, my hunt camp version of a slow cooker that allows me to do the elaborate cooking at home so I can focus on elaborate eating in the bush:

      I have had good luck reheating frozen foods in a camp dutch oven on top of a woodstove. One of the Lodge dutch ovens with the legs, so the entire oven was elevated a couple inches above the stove's surface. Damper the stove way down but with lots of wood in it, put elaborately cooked frozen meal in dutch oven on top, go hunting for as many hours as I please. Come home to warm food ready to eat. I have done this with chilis, stews, etc, placed directly on the bottom of the dutch oven. Sometimes in a foil pan that the food was frozen in, sometimes just a block of frozen food removed from whatever container.

      This is in a wall tent with larger, heavier cylinder stove that can hold heat longer than my kni-co, so perhaps not your exact scenario. But I thought it worth mentioning. Some stones supporting a legless dutch oven would produce the same result.


      • #4
        Cue the orchestra music and show the image of sun breaking through the clouds.... Justin and Tim, that makes total sense.

        And Justin, thanks for mentioning keeping it off the bottom to get a better "oven like" reheating. I'm going to put the frozen food in a pie tin and keep it elevated off the bottom using a metal pot rest thingy that came with the old "outback oven" (Backpacker's Pantry Outback Oven - 10'' | REI Co-op​).

        I also did some more googling and a cooking site mentioned keeping the frozen food covered in aluminum foil to help prevent it from drying out -- I'm going to try that too.

        Thanks gents!


        • #5
          Well, it took a bit less than 3 hours(!) but the meat pie turned out pretty good. We totally underestimated how much heat it would take to defrost and didn't add enough coals above and below the dutch oven... and frankly weren't checking frequently (too busy talking ). We started the process at 4PM, but I think were were adding coals at the same rate as a normal summer dutch oven cooking... which was totally inadequate for this frozen lump. So from 4 to 6 the chunk of food-ice was barely getting warm. But at 6PM we hung it over the fire using a tripod and it was ready at 7PM. Nothing burnt, turned out well. But not something I would likely do again on a traveling trip. For this base camping trip it was fine, an interesting experiment.

          Thanks again for all the advice!


          • #6
            JamieS. what I find works is to use one coal per25F in summer and increase to 1 1/2 for winter, but remember that as they burn and get smaller they generate less heat, so require replacing more often. there is also the issue of the surfaces around the oven conducting heat and radiant and convective heat loss too, so a good base and windbreak are critical.