The Frenchman and a Real Dutch Oven

September24

Recently while we were at the beachhouse with Boo an the Frenchman we had a delicious meal that was painstakingly prepared.

The latter is an exceptional cook. We get to enjoy his creations on a regular basis as we rotate the preparation of meals among us when we are at the lake. He also does most of the cooking for his family and is an exceptional baker. On this day, he said he was a little behind schedule at 9:30 in the morning. He typically has his fresh bread dough commence its rise before this time.

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It wasn’t really a beach day and so when he started to prep the rest of the supper, we gathered round the fire pit to observe.

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The most crucial piece of equipment for the meal was his authentic Dutch oven. Not the Le Crueset variety that I love the muted colours of, but a cast iron one with an old fashioned handle that could hang on a spit over a fire. In addition, the lid must have a deep ridge around its circumference. More about that later.

The Frenchman is one of those Renaissance men-a big burly guy, who is a craftsman and artiste, often tears up we talk about his family and loves the outdoors and mastering survival!

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When we first met him he would astonish us that he knew how to make chainmail (I didn’t even know what that was, but here’s a link), as well as mead and medieval food recipes. We often spoke of having a medieval feast one day in the back yard but somehow school, work, weddings, home-hunting, career changes, etc. etc. filled in the time.

But on this day, we got a taste of his ancient skills.

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He tossed a beef roast in flour and seared it over a high heat.

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Later he added veggies, herbs and a beer (good thing we always have lots of 1919 in the beer fridge) and stock to create a brine for everything to wobble around in. Perhaps this doesn’t sound out of the ordinary to you. The thing is this was accomplished while he made his own live charcoal from the firepit which he first cradled the iron oven onto. The pot had to be constantly be moved away so that more coals could be heaped upon the bed.

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And then there came a time where he would also put the live coals on the lid of the pot. This is why the lid had to have a deep ridge so that the live charcoal could stay in place as he constantly tended to the coals.

At dinner time, he pulled everything out of the dutch oven to rest and used the remaining stock to make a savoury mushroom gravy.

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In the mean time he put the risen bread in the oven in a pot too. This was so the the inside would bake along with its crunchy crust. The bread had 4 ingredients and was sublime!

This meal could only be eaten outside so the Frenchman cut up big wedges of the bread, we poured more beer and tucked in!

Kath’s quote: When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin

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Love never fails.

 

 

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