Category Archives: Dutch Oven Cooking

Mom’s Chuck Wagon Beans

Chuckwagon BeansThe Chuck Wagon Beans recipes I have encountered are full of green and lima beans, not baked beans. I really do not like green beans and I hate lima beans and wax beans. Thankfully, my Mom never made those recipes! 

This is the recipe I was going to prepare when I ended up making Baked Chili. My mom made this frequently when I was growing up. I am one of 6 kids. When she made this, it would never last. The recipe below is half of what my Mom would make. Double it and take Chuck Wagon Beans to a potluck.  It is only slightly changed from Mom’s original.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.  Brown 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, adding about 3/4 cup of diced onion when the beef is nearly completely browned.  Drain.  In a greased 9×9 pan, pour in the beef and onion, adding the following:  1 28 ounce can of baked beans, 1/3 cup beef broth, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons dried ground mustard, 1 garlic clove, minced  and 1/4 ounce fresh grated ginger (or 1 to 2 teaspoons ground).  Mix well. 

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Cover with foil and place in oven.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  While the beans are  baking, fry 6 slices of bacon until crisp.  Crumble.

Bacon-nothing more to be said!

Bacon-nothing more to be said!

After 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil and sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the beans.  Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.  This recipe is a good candidate for the dutch oven (read more at the preceding link).  Cast iron cooking with a bit of natural smoke flavoring added!  Enjoy!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!


Baked Chili

Baked Chili This isn’t what it started out to be. My mom used to make this recipe she calls Chuckwagon Beans, which I will be posting sometime in the future. That is what I was thinking I was going to make for dinner. Turns out, I had one 16 ounce can of pork and beans, meaning I wasn’t making my Mom’s recipe. It was one of those days I was not planning to go anywhere and I was not changing the plan. So Baked Chili is what happened. And I mean, what happened. I started pulling things out of the pantry and the veggie drawer and this is what I came up. All of these ingredients are available in my house 90% of the time.

Although I baked this in my oven, it will easily translate to the grill. A cast iron skillet or a Dutch Oven on the grill or a Dutch Oven over an open fire or with coals will make this recipe even better than it is baked in the oven in the house. Adding natural smoke flavor to any dish such as this improves the overall taste-so pull up your stump around the campfire for this one.

This recipe makes a lot. It will be good for a potluck or when you have a crowd. Of course, you can cut it down 1/2 or 1/4 easily enough. The end result filled a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. To prevent a mess in my oven, I laid a sheet of foil on the shelf below the chili to catch the inevitable drips.  Also, plan ahead.  This will need to bake about an hour and a half.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Brown 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of hamburger in a large pot.  Drain and set aside.  In the same pot, saute 2 medium to large cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped, one large diced green pepper and one large diced onion, about a cup and a half each.  If you don’t like that much, cut the amount.  I love peppers and onions.  For a bit of heat, you could add a diced chili pepper.  Saute the pepper and onion about 5 minBaked Chiliutes or so, just until crisp tender.  They will cook further in the oven.  Baked Chili







my favorite brand of beans


Add the cooked hamburger back to the pot and stir all together.  Next, you will be adding 3 undrained 16 ounce cans of chili beans, one 16 ounce can of baked beans,one undrained 16 ounce can of kidney beans,one cup of beef broth or stock (veggie works well, too), 1 tbsp dried cilantro or 2 tbsp chopped fresh, 2 tbsp ground mustard, 1 tbsp cumin, 2-3 tbsp chili powder (to your taste).  Stir well.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven (preheated to 375 degrees F) for one and a half hours.  After taking it out of the oven, remove the foil  and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.  It will be very hot!! 

right out of the oven

right out of the oven

In my house, we have cornbread with our chili and sometimes a bit of shredded cheese over the top (sometimes for my husband and myself, every time for my daughters).

When I eventually bake this outdoors, I will prepare the chili completely in my Dutch Oven.  I can brown the hamburger, saute the veggies and stir it all together in the same.  Over an open fire, I use my tripod and keep my fire pretty hot, adjusting the hanging level of the oven with the chain (for more on Dutch Oven cooking, see Heaven and Earth/Himmel und Erde).  On the grill, I will start with a hot fire and keep up the heat, spreading the coals around the perimeter of the grill, placing the Dutch Oven in the center (after removing the cooking grate).  The way cast iron holds heat, I don’t anticipate any issue keeping the chili hot enough to bake as completely as it does in the kitchen oven. 

This is a different kind of chili.  A little off from the chili I make in a pot, but it’s a keeper.  No tomatoes, no tomato sauce, really thick and meaty.  It was good.  I hope you enjoy it.

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Heaven and Earth/Himmel und Erde

I have been searching the web regarding this recipe.  There are many different versions of this out there, but this recipe comes from the recipe collection for the Foxfire House in Camp Furnace Hills (near Denver, PA).  Foxfire House was built-in  the very late 1700’s or early 1800’s.  The Girl Scouts now own the house (which is on the National Register of Historic Places).  Girl Scout troops may stay a day, a weekend, or, during the summer, girls from all over the nation and world can spend a week living in the house.  One of the experiences for the girls is to prepare and eat period recipes.  Both times my daughters’ troop have stayed at Foxfire House, we ate this version of Heaven and Earth.

It is German in origin.  Heaven is apples, Earth is potatoes.  It is typically a side dish rather than a one-pot meal.  The story I have been told is that the Hessian soldiers in the area made this recipe.  It’s  a great meal for fall.   The version made at Foxfire House uses butternut squash rather than potatoes.  I’ve never had it with potatoes, but I imagine potatoes would not be as interesting in this recipe. 

I made this over an open fire in my “backyard” (this can easily be cooked indoors as well-it would take around 45 minutes to cook on the stove).  We are blessed to have woods behind our house.  One of the first projects I took on was to find a space for a fire circle-our own little “campground.”  I found the perfect spot and forged a trail from the yard to the spot.  We have already had several perfect evenings to spend around the fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.  Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon preparing and cooking Heaven and Earth for dinner.  An excellent excuse to spend the afternoon outdoors, “relaxing” by the fire. 

A few years ago, I asked for and received my favorite cast-iron cooking vessel-a Dutch Oven with a flanged lid.  It is a versatile pot to have in one’s supply.  It is an oven, a stew pot, a skillet and a griddle.  It is easy to care for and clean.  I have used it over an open fire and in my grill and oven.  With the lid on, heat can be applied not only from below, but also from above.

I also have a tripod for the Dutch Oven.  The chain has plenty of links, allowing me to adjust the height of the oven as  needed.  I don’t have to worry about the heat of the fire since I can raise or lower the oven depending on how much heat I need.  The tripod comes in handy for hanging a lantern, too!

For this recipe, you need:

1 pound pork sausage links

1 pound bacon

One medium butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 large onions, cut into wedges

3 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tbsp parsley,

1 to 2 tsp each, sweet marjoram, ground sage and thyme

5 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced

If you are going to cook over an open fire, start the fire a good half hour or so before you are ready to begin cooking.  That should be a sufficient amount of time for the wood to burn down into nice, hot coals.  You don’t need a blazing fire in order to properly cook over one.  In this case, a few small pieces of wood added now and then will do just fine.


Once the fire is ready and the oven is over the fire and preheated, start frying the bacon and the sausage.  I fry the meat one at a time.  The sausage and the bacon will be sliced into small, bite-size pieces.  Set the sliced meats aside to be added to the dish towards the end.

While the bacon and the sausage are cooking, peel and dice the squash.  The inside of butternut squash is similar to a neck pumpkin if you have ever cooked one of those (diced and sautéed with butter and brown sugar.  Mmm!). 




Cut the onion. 


Once the meat is off the fire (do not drain the grease), dump in the squash and onions.  If you want a lower fat version, go ahead and drain the grease-I recommend a lightly flavored vegetable oil. 



Cook, stirring often to prevent sticking and to allow for even cooking.  I used the lid for part of the cooking time to speed things up.  It will take close to 25 or 30 minutes to cook down.




Prepare the apples right before you are ready to add them.  Otherwise, treat them with FruitFresh to prevent browning. 



Add the apples and seasonings and mix well. 




Add the sausage and bacon and heat until hot and bubbly. 

We had only enough leftovers for a couple of family members to enjoy again the next day.  This is really a yummy meal!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!