I’ve never had trouble making big dutch oven meals. At the field school I routinely cook for 10-20 people, and after years of doing so I’m usually pretty pleased with how things turn out. Scaling things down, to the point where I’m dutch oven cooking for 1 or 2 adults, is something I haven’t done very often and am looking to get more experience with.
I’ve been home alone for a few days, and looked through a few cookbooks to find some ideas for cooking in the least-used dutch oven I’ve got: a 2 quart, 8 inch oven with legs and a flanged-lid. It’s a Lodge that I bought a few years ago, and I learned they recently stopped making this model. On a side note, it seems whenever I get a dutch oven I like, they stop making it. A quick look on the web shows that there are other options, even one by Lodge that’s designed for the kitchen, but could be used outdoors. Anyway, I want to incorporate more dutch oven cooking, but on a much smaller scale, for times when I’m at home alone or at the field school and pressed for time.
My search for inspiration brought me to my local library where I checked out Glorious One-Pot Meals by Elizabeth Yarnell (website link). After reading through the introductory chapters I feel like it was definitely worth my time to do so. The premise of the book is her single technique of making one-pot meals in a 2-quart dutch oven, adapted to a variety of ingredients and recipes.
In short, her technique is to preheat your oven (designed to be used indoors with a regular range), add the ingredients in a specific order to your dutch oven, then bake it at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Really simple, right? I’ve done it two days in a row now, using different ingredients (including some frozen spinach, some dry rice with added water, bone-in chicken thighs, etc.) and it’s worked great.
I love the simplicity of the method. I’m always looking for ways to eat better when I’m at the field school that won’t take up a bunch of time. This method is definitely a keeper in that regard. I also love how the method remains constant but the ingredients change. Again, really simple to implement.
In addition to using her method indoors, it’s an easy one to transition to outdoor cooking with charcoal or campfire coals. I’ve been using this method of high-heat for a short time for years, but never seen it explained as such.
If you’re looking to scale down your dutch oven cooking to the point where you can cook for 1 or 2 adults but not have a mountain of leftovers, you too might enjoy Glorious One-Pot Meals (Amazon link).