For 16 years, the local Dutch oven group — PA-DOG — has served up meals made in Dutch ovens on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to whomever wishes to stop by Rumsey Park ramada 5 and eat chili, stew, pineapple upside down cake, sticky buns and huevos rancheros.
Dutch ovens, cast iron pots with a lid that can cook immersed in a pile of coals — or perched on top of the fire — have served as a cooking utensil for centuries.
The Dutch created the first Dutch ovens using brass and a molding method using sand in the 1600s.
Englishman Abraham Darby found the Dutch process of making oven molds created a smooth pot the English molding process could not match. So, he studied the Dutch oven molding process in the Netherlands. He patented the casting process in 1707, naming the pot a Dutch oven.
When immigrants came to the United States, they brought along their Dutch ovens.
Dutch oven cooking is so popular, outdoor cooking enthusiasts have created the International Dutch Oven Society. Many members have cook-offs and competitions, but PA-DOG prefers to simply gather and eat.
“John Swenson started this and makes sure that it happens each year,” said PA-DOG chef Mac Feezor.
Swenson and Feezor guessed about 70 people showed up for this year’s event.
“The only complaints were that everyone wanted more food,” said Feezor. “Some of the little old ladies who attended went through three and four times! I think some of them had to be loading up purses or something, because there was a lot of food put out. Next year, we’ll have to see if we can get some sort of RSVP for cookers and consumers so we know how much stuff to fix.”
Feezor said he has Dutch ovens with a 20-inch circumference that hold six gallons of food, but he only brought his 12-inch one-gallon sized oven. He has used all his ovens to feed emergency responders when he puts on his Citizens Emergency Response Team hat.
Usually only folks from Arizona attend these Dutch oven events, but this year a couple came from California.
With the increase in popularity, Feezor and Swenson might have to up their game.
“If this thing gets bigger, I’ll drag out the larger Dutch ovens and probably do a load of ‘Whistle Berry Stew’ — chili with beans, in Scout-speak,” said Feezor.