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Sep 14, 2010 07:36 PM

Time Warp: Dutch Oven Camp Skillet Cookery

OK, here's something a little different from the typical urban technophile theme, a hopefully not unwelcome thread, of a cruder, yet soul-satisfying sort.

Last weekend I went on a (all-too-infrequent) camping trip, and on a lark took my old No. 12 bare cast iron Dutch oven and tripod kit. Now, no offense intended, but Staub and Le Creuset don't make the Dutch ovens I want to use off of the pavement. Traditional American Dutch ovens (called such because of their Pennsylvania Dutch sellers, nothing to do with Holland), are un-enameled, have three stubby legs on the bottom, and a heavy, tall-rimmed, tightly-fitted lid. The idea is to be able to cook IN an open fire (I know, induction fans, the horror!) by putting your oven directly into a fire's coals--suburban reading: charcoal briquets. The legs help stand the pot up off the live coals, and the rebated lid is for shoveling in more coals, so the vessel acts as... well, an oven. They also have bails, so you can pull 'em out of the fire without igniting your Bruno Maglis, or hang them from a chain OVER the campfire (that's what the tripod is for).

Now, I also took a Swiss Diamond nonstick skillet and an eentsy-beentsy white gas campstove for bacon and eggs, but the stove either disliked me or the scenery, and refused to run. So I was S[lightly]OL. What to do?

Well, it's sorta like Bikram yoga in practice, but you CAN put your thick Dutch oven LID, inverted, down over the selfsame coals to use as a skillet. This I attempted without either burning my face or filling my "skillet" with ash. Actually worked better than I feared, because the slightly domed lid kept things inside the lines, even it it was a bit wobbly.

So, here's my question: For us minimalists/bumpkins, is there a Dutch oven out there with legs on the LID as well, so you can fry your heart out? Or, better yet, one whose lid has its own bail so I can hang it and skip the chiropractor? Failing a direct answer, maybe someone can give some tips for making do with what I have.

Thanks. OK, back to 2010.

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  1. How about one of these?

    Lodge Original Finish Camp Dutch Oven Lid Stand

    7 Replies
    1. re: tanuki soup

      Good on you, tanuki. If the lid's loop handle will clear there at the joint, it looks like it'll work. Thanks!

      1. re: tanuki soup

        Or the 3 leg stand that GSI sells for their 10" legless dutch ovens

        I tried the lid of my 8" Lodge DO, and the 10" GSI on both stands. The handle gets in the way on both - but, if the stand is inverted there is clearance. I think the GSI one would work better.

        You could also support the rim of the lid on 3 rocks

        1. re: paulj

          The Lodge stand is meant to be inverted for lids.

          Also, you can try these combo cookers, where the lid's handles are on the side and the lid is designed to serve as a second pan:
          - -

          1. re: iyc_nyc

            Thanks for the link to the 5 quart model, I have been looking at the 3 quart model.

        2. re: tanuki soup

          Look up 'spider pan'. This was a long legged frying pan used in open hearth cooking.

          You can get a modern copy here:

          1. re: paulj

            Cool pan, cooler website. Thanks. Think the legs come off that or do I need to add an axle to my trailer?

            1. re: kaleokahu

              The french have similar pans to the spider in that link. The legs are permanently attached.

              The inverted lid holders look like your best option. In fact, I think I'm going to get one too.

        3. Check out the deluxe style ovens available from Camp Chef. No, they aren't made domestically, but the quality of the castings is outstanding, similar to Lodge.

          The deluxe models are deeper than regular ovens, have legs on the lids, and have a notch that will allow for a thermometer to pass through with the lid on.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MikeB3542

            MikeB: Hey, thanks. For deeper yet, check out the MACA ovens at I like Camp Chef ovens' design, but the lid rims look pretty shallow for holding the coals.

            Even MACA has outsourced its DO casting, in their case to India. It'd figure that Camp Chef, Lodge, Cabellas and all of 'em are using the same foundry in India or China. The cheesy "Americana" relief on the lids all look eerily similar, don't you think?

            Since I already have a 12" Lodge with a nice high rim, I think I'll just get the lid rack gizmo. Unless you know a cheap source for a footed replacement lid.