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Old 09-28-2007, 10:46 AM   #1
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Dutch Oven Meatloaf

Decided to use the DO to make a meatloaf last night, and it turned out wonderfully. Up until now, Iíve been ďgrillingĒ my meatloaf by cooking it with indirect heat on the grill along with some wood smoke. That makes a great meatloaf and itís fun to do.

However, the meatloaf in the DO is slightly better! In fact, DW informed me last night that from now on, this is how I have to make my meatloaf. Itís fun and easy to do this in the DO, but Iím beginning to wonder if I may have shot myself in the foot here? My grill is going to get jealous!

Dutch Oven Meatloaf

Ingredients:

Loaf
3.5 to 4 lbs ground beef
1 pack Onion Mushroom Soup mix
4 Tbsp Ketchup
2 Tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs

Glaze
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Dutch Oven: 10Ē
Coals: 24 = 10 on bottom, 14 on top
Cook Time: 2 hours

Preparation:
Mix the Glaze ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all of the Loaf ingredients until well incorporated, and then shape into a free standing ROUND loaf. The loaf should be about 4 to 4.5 inches tall, and around 9 inches in diameter. It needs to be somewhat round to fit into the bottom of the DO. Next, place a trivet in the bottom of the DO. Place the meatloaf on the trivet and cover the DO. The meatloaf should not be touching the sides of the DO. If it is, reshape to decrease the diameter (thus making the meatloaf a bit taller).

When the coals are ready, place 10 under the DO in a circular pattern and 14 on top in a ring around the lid. Let this cook undisturbed for 1 hour. After 1 hour, replenish the coal supply and allow to cook another 30 minutes. At this time apply the glaze to the top of the meatloaf and allow it to cook for another 30 Ė 35 minutes. At that time, check the internal temp which should be 170+. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/2 pieces and serve.

This is great with mashed potatoes and gravy and green peas. Left over meatloaf makes wonderful sandwiches!

Notes:
This meatloaf is cooked ďdryĒ. That is, no liquid is added to the bottom of the DO. You are basically using the DO as an ďovenĒ in this case. Obviously, there will be some drippings that fall to the bottom of the DO. The bottom heat will cause these dripping to char and become a stuck-on mess in the bottom of the DO. But donít fret!

After cooking, add some water to the DO so that it is abut 1/4 or so full and then place the DO over some heat. Allow the water to come to a boil while you enjoy your meal. Once the water has boiled for a few minutes, use a plastic spatula or wooden spatula to easily scrape up the charred bits from the bottom. Boiling water in the DO makes this clean-up a very simple matter!

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Old 09-28-2007, 11:43 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Notes:
This meatloaf is cooked ďdryĒ. That is, no liquid is added to the bottom of the DO. You are basically using the DO as an ďovenĒ in this case. Obviously, there will be some drippings that fall to the bottom of the DO. The bottom heat will cause these dripping to char and become a stuck-on mess in the bottom of the DO. But donít fret!

After cooking, add some water to the DO so that it is abut 1/4 or so full and then place the DO over some heat. Allow the water to come to a boil while you enjoy your meal. Once the water has boiled for a few minutes, use a plastic spatula or wooden spatula to easily scrape up the charred bits from the bottom. Boiling water in the DO makes this clean-up a very simple matter!
Using a trivet under the meatloaf will help this problem. It'll keep it off the bottom of the DO, so that it will help reduce the burning/charring. It won't eliminate it, but it'll help.

But there's also an added value to using the hot water for the clean up. Once you've scraped off the charred bits and dump the water, the Do will almost dry itself because of the heat in the cast iron. Quickly wipe out any remaining water, and then wipe your oil onto the DO for your seasoning. This is absolutely the best way for maintaining the DO, because that warm cast iron really sucks up the oil.

And the recipe sounds great. This is one I'll be trying for sure.

Thanks for posting the info.
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Old 09-30-2007, 12:59 PM   #3
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Your recipe sounds wonderful. I love the sound of the glaze. Next time I have meatloaf I will be making this.

You might want to cut back on the coals a bit. When I bake in my Dutch oven I try to keep most of the heat on top. This way it bakes and not bakes and fries all at the same time. With the glaze having sugar in it this may help some. You might want to think about lining the Dutch oven with foil also. I do that a lot for easy clean up.
I would use 14 coals on top and 7 coals on the bottom for 350 degrees for a 10" Dutch oven. Try it next time and see if helps with the messy stuck on food.
There are a few more things to remember about temperature control. Rotating the oven a third of a turn every ten minutes is helpful. Rotate the lid a third of a turn in the other direction.
Thanks for sharing your recipe.
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:55 AM   #4
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I do most of my cooking at 350 with an 8 coals on bottom and 12 on top split. I used two packs of ground beef for the meatloaf that were 2.28 pounds and 2.19 pounds, so I ended up with a 4.5 lb meatloaf that was 9 inches in diameter, and 4.5 inches tall!! I like a big meatloaf with leftovers when I make one!

I figured 350 was a bit low of a temp for this size meatloaf. I wanted it done within 2 hours, and I didnít want it slowly steamed. I also wanted to develop a bit of a crust on all sides (not just the top). So I figured 400 degrees was the temp to shoot for. If you figure on 2 coals = 25 degrees, then +4 coals to my usual 20 coals gave me 400. Since I use an 8/12 split most often, I simply added 2 to the bottom and 2 to the top.

I put the meat on a trivet so that it didnít rest in itís own juices and boil, and also to help it develop a crust on the bottom. Once it was all said and done, I still didnít get that much of a crust on bottom, but the top did brown nicely and the glaze set very well, and the meatloaf was completely done.

I actually expected the stuck on mess in the bottom. I didnít want to put water in the DO this time because I was trying to avoid steaming the meat. I really wanted to ďdryĒ roast the meatloaf as much as possible....although the drippings do add moisture. Also, the dripping fat would only add to the seasoning of the DO!

Since the DO is already seasoned, I didnít expect the stuck on drippings to be much of a problem, and they werenít. I just added 2 Ė 3 cups of water and let it boil while we ate. Then I lightly scrubbed the bottom with a plastic spatula and everything came up easily and the DO was perfectly clean. I only mentioned the mess in this post because someone out there might try this recipe as written (or some other DO recipe) and not know the secrets to easily cleaning a DO (or any cast iron piece) with boiling water.

I did consider the aluminum foil though. That would be even easier than boiling water. But Iíve never tried that before, and since my DO is fairly new, I wanted the fat of the meatloaf to drip down and help add to the seasoning Iím building in it.

All in all, this recipe was a smashing success. The drippings added to the seasoning of the DO. Using boiling water, cleanup was incredibly simple. And the best part, the meatloaf was perfect. The leftovers made awesome sandwiches! Since the meatloaf was round, the slices were huge! But, that actually helped make a better sandwich. Instead of needing two slices as usual. One slice makes a perfect sandwich.



Have you guys used aluminum foil in the DO before? I imagine it makes cleanup a lot easier? Do you cover the whole inside or just add foil to the bottom and maybe an inch or so up the side?

Hereís the DO that I have. Notice the lid has ďearsĒ that line up with the base. Since you can flip the lid over and use it as a skillet, I think those ears/handles are there to help when you do that (but Iíve not used the lid this way yet). The inner ring on the lid is solid, so it technically doesnít matter how the lid sits on the DO, but being as anal as I am, I would go nuts if I looked at the DO and the ears werenít lined up properly.

So, I never rotate the lid. I donít rotate the DO either. I place the coals in a ring under the DO, and in a ring around the lid. Since Iím using charcoal briquettes, each piece is the same size, and puts out as much heat as the other. All the coals are equally spaced out and well proportioned, so I canít figure out what advantage there is to rotating the lid or the DO itself? Why rotate the lid or DO? Do some DOs build up hotspots or is there another reason?
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:08 PM   #5
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Rotating the lid and Dutch oven is to keep from generating hot spots which will cause uneven browning and burned spots, so they say. I rarely do it myself.

For the foil; I use the heavy duty foil because it will fit in the oven in one piece. I let it go up the sides of the pan folding it down away from the lid.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ol-blue View Post
Rotating the lid and Dutch oven is to keep from generating hot spots which will cause uneven browning and burned spots, so they say. I rarely do it myself.

For the foil; I use the heavy duty foil because it will fit in the oven in one piece. I let it go up the sides of the pan folding it down away from the lid.
Ok, I know this is gonna' sound weird since Iíve cooked with foil in the oven and have used a metal trivet in my DOÖÖ.but using foil in the DO doesnít affect flavor does it?

Dumb question Iím sure, but Iíve noticed that things I cook in the DO that I have also cooked on the stove or in the oven, taste different due to the DO method, and usually itís better!
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:29 PM   #7
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I've used foil in some of my meals that will be especially messy and possibly difficult to clean up. I especially like to use it on dump cakes with fruit fillings because those can be real messy. Just like Ol Blue, I run the foil up the sides to just under the lip of the DO. I want as much protection as I can get. I've not noticed any real loss of flavor when using foil, but a little might be expected.

I do rotate my DO and the lid on anything that is using top heat. As stated earlier, it's to help avoid hot spots. Yes, the briquettes are supposed to be the exact same size, but I realistically don't believe they all can be. Besides that, the wind can affect coals on one side more than the coals on the opposite side. And, regardless of the quality of the DO, there is no DO that is absolutely uniform in thickness and metal quality. So as far as I'm concerned, I will continue to rotate with most everything I cook.

And besides, your guests will really think you're doing a great job when they see you out there every 10 - 15 minutes turning the DO. And, it keeps you busy so that your wife can't have you doing other things..."Gee honey, I'd LOVE to help you, but I can't leave the DO because your dinner might get burned!"
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfgar4 View Post
Yes, the briquettes are supposed to be the exact same size, but I realistically don't believe they all can be. Besides that, the wind can affect coals on one side more than the coals on the opposite side.

And besides, your guests will really think you're doing a great job when they see you out there every 10 - 15 minutes turning the DO. And, it keeps you busy so that your wife can't have you doing other things..."Gee honey, I'd LOVE to help you, but I can't leave the DO because your dinner might get burned!"
Oh wow! Garry, you are the Godfather of DOs in my book! In fact, it's your posts that got me into it! Excellent points....especially the DW POV!!!

Thanks for the info!
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:36 PM   #9
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Ok, I know this is gonna' sound weird since Iíve cooked with foil in the oven and have used a metal trivet in my DOÖÖ.but using foil in the DO doesnít affect flavor does it?

Dumb question Iím sure, but Iíve noticed that things I cook in the DO that I have also cooked on the stove or in the oven, taste different due to the DO method, and usually itís better!
The foil does not change the flavor at all. I have had desserts made in DO from friends that I wished used the foil because the dessert picked up the flavor of the last meal they ate. I use foil because it is so easy to clean up when out camping and when water needs to be conserved.
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