A Dutch oven lesson learned

To light my charcoal, I use what is called a “chimney.” It’s basically a sheet metal tube with a “shelf” inside, about 3/4 the way down. On the bottom of the chimney, under the shelf, are holes in the side of the metal. The way it works is you put newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, set it on the cooking table, put charcoal in the top, then light the newspaper through the holes on the bottom of the chimney. (I may take pictures of the process the next time I cook.)

The first time I cooked with my Dutch oven, my chimney worked like a champ and my charcoal was ready in no time. Yesterday, however, I was not so lucky. I “lit” my chimney, then went indoors to prep the apple crisp while the charcoal heated up. When I got done and was ready to put my creation on the heat, I found that maybe one or two briquets had caught and were hot.

I learned that you can’t stuff too much newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, or it doesn’t breath well, hence it doesn’t burn well and the charcoal just sits there waiting patiently. After a little bit of playing and experimentation, I reset the chimney using only one full sheet of newspaper, and the charcoal was ready in short order.

So if any of you use charcoal chimneys, remember the old standby saying….”Less is more!”

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