Two are Better than One

For the past several years, I’ve been exploring and enjoying dutch oven cooking while camping. This past summer I discovered that my little 4-quart camp oven was not big enough for our growing family. When we all get together there are eleven of us! (There are the two of us, two daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren.) While we were in Tennessee, we came across a Lodge factory outlet, and I was able to buy, at a discount, a larger, 6-quart camp oven to supplement what I already had. A side benefit of now having two camp ovens is that I could explore the practice of “stacking.” With stacking, you place one smaller oven on top of a larger oven and bake two different dishes simultaneously. I wanted to try this yesterday for our guests, but experimentation and doing something for the first time is not generally a good idea when you are entertaining guests. So today I stepped out into dutch oven stacking for the first time. E helped me by preparing some small meatloaves to put in the large oven. I mixed up a cinnamon coffee cake to put in the top oven.

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Of course, nothing new happens without some sort of difficulty. Right? First problem: the “rules” for dutch oven baking tell you to put 2/3 of the coals on top of the oven and leave 1/3 underneath. Now how do you apply that rule to stacked ovens? The top of the big oven is the bottom of the small oven! Also, for a 350° heat, normally I use 27 briquettes. How many would I need for this new arrangement? I hadn’t read anything that addresses these questions, and I wasn’t in a place where internet access was available, so I had to wing it. How would you handle this situation? How many coals, and how would you distribute them to follow the rule of 1/3 on the bottom and 2/3 on the top?

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