Ronnies Dutch Oven Christmas Lunch
I hope that a few of you managed to get out into the open this summer and give your Dutch ovens an airing. But don't let the winter weather spoil your fun as there is no reason why you can't cook with your Dutch Ovens out all year round. With this in mind, I thought I would test the theory that if you can cook it in your oven at home, you can cook it in a Dutch oven outdoors.
With so many different elements to it, I thought I would give the traditional Christmas day lunch a go - trying out a three Dutch oven stack at the same time. For the full
roast lunch I have broken it down into three elements:
- Firstly, the chicken (sorry couldn't quite fit a turkey in), which will take the longest to cook and will need to be keep moist, so I can also make the gravy and cook the veg in one pot.
- The second pot will be for the roast spuds, stuffing and parsnips as we all like these to have a bit of crispiness to them.
- Finally, the third pot is for the baked apples. For all three I will be using 8 litre Dutch ovens.
1 large chicken
2 large onions
Bundle of fresh sage (optional)
1 large head of Broccoli
4 large potatoes
2 large parsnips
3 large carrots
4 large bramley apples
1 punnet of blackberries
1 pack of stuffing mix
1 large bottle of cider
Instant Custard powder
Salt & pepper
Mixed dry herbs
As usual I don’t do measurements, it’s all done with a handful a sprinkle, a bit of a splash and a little drop.
The first thing to do is start your charcoal or fire and get the kettle on.
For the chicken, I like to line my Dutch ovens with tin foil - you don’t need to, I just find it makes it easy to clean up when you’re done. However I do advise that you line the oven for the baked apples, as the acid from the sugar and fruit can caramelize, making it quite hard to clean off and the acid in the sugar can damage the seasoning on the pot. Don’t line the spud roasting pot.
Peel the onions, cut one of them into thick slices and lay them evenly in the bottom of your chicken pot. This will make a trivet, stopping the chicken from sticking to the foil or pot and it also adds to the flavour of the gravy. Cut the second onion into quarters and, with the sage, stuff into the chicken, then place the chicken into the pot. Poor half the cider into the pot then season the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs to taste. Put the lid on then place an even spread of about 10 golf ball size coals underneath and on top (this should give you a temperature of about 190 degrees depending on the ambient temperature).
Make a note of the time; a large chicken will take about and hour and half to cook.
Peel, cut and prepare the rest of your veg to how you like them. Mix your stuffing as per the instructions on the pack and roll into golf ball size balls. Set all this aside for later.
About 20 minutes after you get the chicken on the heat, place your second Dutch oven on top of the first, put in a good splash of cooking oil and put the lid on. The coals on the lid of the first pot will now start to heat the oil in the second - it will take about 5 minutes for the oil to heat up. Lift off the lid and place a small piece of potato into the oil - if it bubbles and sizzles then put the rest of the spuds in, give them a good stir to coat them in oil and season to your liking. (If the oil is not hot enough maybe add a few more coals to bring up to temperature) Place the lid on the pot and evenly spread about 10 golf ball size coals on the lid.
Take the blackberries, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and give them a stir to evenly coat them. Next, core the apples and cut out a small well on the top, then slice the surface of skin all the way around the circumference - this will allow the apple to expand when cooking. Now fill the apples with the blackberry mix with a few extra in the well. Place the apples evenly into the
foil lined oven and poor half of the remaining cider over them, and if you fancy an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, place the lid on and leave to the side until later.
After about 40 minutes cooking time, place the rest of the cider in with the chicken to top up the juices. If you feel it needs a bit more then add some water, or if you have it then add some cider. Put enough in to ensure that the stock does not dry out, as you will want it for your gravy. Check your coals as you may need to add some fresh ones to keep the temperature up.
Give it about 20 minutes then add the carrots around the chicken, to cook in the gravy stock. Turn your spuds over and move them to one side, then place the parsnips in the space with the stuffing balls on top and return to the stack. You can now place your Dutch oven with the apples on top of the stack, placing more coals onto the lid. Cook for a further 15 minutes and then add the broccoli to the chicken. Check the gravy level and top up if required. Don’t worry about taking the pots off the stack as for the short time it’s off it will stay hot. Cook for about a further 15 to 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
The total cooking time will be about an hour and a half. Below is a timing guide to help you -
20 min - oil in.
25 mins - potatoes in.
40 mins - check gravy level, check and top up your coals.
60 mins - turn potatoes & put carrots, stuffing, parsnips and apples on.
75 mins - broccoli in, check gravy level.
90 mins - serve and enjoy.
- To check if the chicken is cooked though, pierce the thigh and breast; if the juices run clear then its done, if they run red, cook it a bit longer.
- This was my first attempt at the apples and I did over cook them a bit so I would recommend that once the main meal is done, leave them in the pot to keep warm but remove all the coals (mine still tasted amazing).
- I tend to use charcoal as it will burn for longer, if you are using coals from your fire you will need to replenish then more often.
You can get all the equipment used to cook this recipe from Ronnie Sunshines, in store or online. Here are the products featured: