Learn To Cook A Turkey The Dutch Oven Way

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Rim Country cooks can learn to wow their friends with an old style of cooking with a Western flavor.

Susan and Russ Richins are teaching another Dutch Oven Cooking Class in Payson through the Payson Parks and Recreation Nov. 2 and there are still spaces available.

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Susan and Russ Richins believe that many people who have Dutch ovens do not take full advantage of them. Dutch ovens can easily be used in most back yards and can be used year long, instead of just the couple of times a year most people go camping. The only way to learn to cook in a Dutch oven is to get out and do it.

This class will have a Thanksgiving theme -- dishes include turkey, homemade bread, dessert and casseroles.

Biscuits are the first things Russ recalls cooking in a Dutch oven with his Boy Scout troop at a Scout-O-Rama.

"I remember turning out baking powder biscuits, one oven after another, for two days. They tasted great even though we weren't supposed to eat them," he said.

Russ continued cooking in Dutch ovens during Scouting events with his son and through his career with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Susan, who has been married to Russ for 30 years, said, "I was fortunate enough to get to eat what he cooked."

She was not intrigued about cooking in the black, cast-iron kettles, until she attended the International Dutch Oven Society's Winter National Convention in Camp Verde and found out there were competitions.

The Richins won first place for their bread at a competition, soon after the convention.

"I was hooked!" Susan said.

Susan's specialty dish is her secret family recipe for two-layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

"If I had to pick one dish, it would be Baked Strawberry Shortcake. It is very simple and everybody seems to like it," Russ said.

Any recipe that can be cooked in an oven or on a stovetop can be cooked in a Dutch oven.

"Once you learn to regulate the heat, the rest is just following the recipe," Susan said.

The couple practices a recipe a few times before they make it for the judges, but like every cook, they have had embarrassing moments.

They were flipping banana bread out of the oven onto a plate and the plate folded in half, turning their beautiful Banana Bread into Banana Crumble.

"We turned it in to the judges as a pile of crumbs, but it still tasted great," Russ said.

"The Richins are very thoughtful and nice teachers," Andy Hernandez of Winslow said. He baked cinnamon swirl bread at the Richins' class at the Northern Gila County Fair.

"I had tried cobblers and stews and seen classes on TV, but it is great to get hands-on lessons," Hernandez added.

The Richins recommend people new to Dutch oven cooking begin with a 12-inch regular oven.

"We also go a little further and recommend a Lodge pre-seasoned oven. We have had the best luck with Lodge and it continues to be our favorite, even though we do have and use other brands," Russ said.

Students at the Nov. 2 class may bring their own Dutch ovens or use those supplied by the Richins.

All other supplies will be provided.

The cost is $30 per person for the class and participants can either download a registration form from:www.payson-parks.com or register online using a credit card, or go to the parks and recreation office at 1000 W. Country Club Dr. in Green Valley Park.

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