By: Bruce Tracy
Publisher: Hobble Creek Press
Publication Date: February 2015
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 21, 2015
There’s nothing like a good meal prepared in a proper Dutch oven, prepared over coals in the backyard. The smell, the expectations, the camaraderie of good friends as you enjoy the tasty delight make for a memorable experience. Yum. With a plethora of Dutch oven cookbooks on the market, however, how do you decide which is best for you? After reading, and preparing some of the recipes in Backyard Dutch Oven Cooking by Bruce Tracy, I suggest you seriously consider adding this one to your cookbook library.
The author of Backyard Dutch Oven Cooking, Bruce Tracy, is an award-winning cook, having won, among other accolades, the 2004 International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championship. Put simply, this man knows how to use a Dutch oven and in this book, he generously shares that knowledge with the reader.
The book begins with an introduction that includes selecting a Dutch over, needed tools, and temperature control. I particularly appreciated this last topic as it went into great detail about how to control your temperature down to the number of coals, per specific sized ovens, needed to reach 350 degrees. It also included how to then increase the temperature, by 50 degrees at a time, to the desired temperature. The perfect information any chef needs to control the temperature and create their own outdoor masterpiece.
There are seven chapters in the book, covering breakfast dishes; breads; soups and chilies; main dishes; sides; desserts; and sauces, toppings, and frostings. The recipes varied in difficulty, ranging from simple dishes for the novice, to advanced dishes for those well versed in Dutch oven cooking. I have seen other cookbooks that included a notation at the start of each recipe noting the difficulty. For this title, while there was mention at the start of a chapter such as – “there are recipes here for the novice, intermediate, and advanced cooks” (pg. 36) - there was no notation with each recipe. Of course, perusing each recipe one could fairly easily decide if the meal was above their skill level.
I wanted to try the stuffed peppers because I have a good recipe for these that my family loves and I wanted to compare. I have to say that the Dutch oven method was easier (no blanching of the peppers) and VERY tasty. I also wanted to give a casserole a try and selected the ‘easy ham and cheese noodle casserole.’ It’s a little fancier than the ever popular macaroni and cheese casserole I’ve made in the past (the cheese sauce requires buttermilk, sour cream and condensed cheddar cheese soup) but it did prove very popular in my house.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed testing (and eating!) the meals prepared via this cookbook. While the book doesn’t have the fancy, glossy paper that some other cookbooks use and readers may wish for color photos over the black and white photos used, this is still a good, solid cookbook to expand, or begin, your Dutch oven meals. Give it a try!
Quill says: Easy to follow, with meticulous attention to details such as the number of coals to use to control the temperature, make this book one worth adding to your library.