the Dinwiddie method of Charcoal Brique
- Try this PDF on http://dave.srednal.com/cooking/DutchOvenBasics.pdf
Below is additional info from the Texas DO site.
The Other Ken
CHARCOAL AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Beginners frequentlyover-start their charcoal. By that I mean they leave it in the startertoo long before they use it. It should take only 10 to 15 minutes tostart charcoal in a chimney starter, and anything longer than that is awaste. It may not look lit in the starter, but if it has flames comingout the top and no smoke, it is ready. Dump out the coals and use thefully lit ones first. Charcoal that has been started for 30 minutesbefore it is put on a pot will be half burned away, and will notproduce as much heat per briquette. It will also not provide heat longenough to finish some recipes. Always start more charcoal than youneed, so you can add the extra later to maintain heat if necessary,especially if it is windy. All recipes assume that you use fresh,properly lit charcoal. A few lit coals in a starter will start charcoalput on top.
When I first startedthis Dutch oven thing, I tried to count out the number of charcoalbriquettes called for in the Dutch Oven recipe books. I rapidly foundthis to be far less than satisfactory for me, as it's dangerous to haveto take your shoes off to count hot charcoal. In addition, I found outthat you have to use more of the cheaper brands of charcoal than if youuse a quality brand such as improved Kingsford "K" charcoal. So, Idecided to measure quantities of hot charcoal by geometric patterns. All of my recipes are based on using the improved Kingsford K charcoalor equivalent and the following "ring" method of temperature control. The definitions are:
1-ring : If you make acircle of hot charcoal with all of the briquettes lying flat andtouching each other, with spaces left out for the legs on the bottomrings, that is "one ring". The outside edge of the ring is lined upwith the outside edge of the pot, top or bottom.
1/2-ring : A "half ring" is the same size circle, but with every other briquette missing.
2- rings : is simply a second ring just inside the first, with the rings touching.
Full spread :means toput all the briquettes you can (one layer deep, lying flat) eitherunder (very rare, except in frying) or on top of the pot.
This ring technique iskind of self-correcting for the size of the briquettes used. If yourcharcoal has been burning for a while, the pieces will be smaller andwill put out less heat. But, it will take more of them to make a ring,so you still get about the same temperature. Of course they won't lastas long and the comparison is rough, but it's better than countingbriquettes!
These cooking utensilswere designed hundreds of years ago to cook food using coals from woodfires. Yes, of course you can cook with campfire coals, but thetechnique is beyond the scope of this booklet.
Most Dutch ovencookbooks tell you how many charcoal briquettes to put on the lid andhow many under the pot. As mentioned above, the resulting temperaturedepends on the size, and brand of your charcoal, how long it has beenlit, the wind, and even if it is sunny or shady (a black pot will cook25 degrees hotter in the summer sun than in the shade). I have beenable to cook almost everything there is to cook with just fourtemperatures..... slow, medium, hot, and very hot. For a 12-inch oven,slow will have 1-ring on top, and 1 ring under the pot and be 300 +/-25 degrees F. Medium is 1-ring under and 1-1/2 rings on top and is 350+/- 25 degrees F. A hot oven is 1-ring under and 2-rings on top and is400 +/- 25 degrees F, and very hot is 1 ring under and 2-1/2 rings ontop and is 450 to 500 degrees F or so.
Notice with this methodthat you never change the number of rings under the pot. The exceptionis for frying or boiling, where I start with a full spread under thepot, and cook with the lid on with a few coals on top just to keep theheat in. Once it is frying or boiling briskly, take a few coals outfrom under the pot until it is cooking properly. Add some back if itslows down too much. The above directions were given for a 12-inch pot.For larger pots, you will need more charcoal on top to maintain theindicated temperatures, and less charcoal on smaller pots. Temperatureis controlled partly by how much (percentage) of the lid is coveredwith charcoal. A 10-inch pot with 2 rings on top will be considerablyhotter than a 14-inch pot with 2 rings on top. This is because tworings on top of a 10-inch oven covers a lot more of the lid (percentagewise) than two rings on a 14-inch pot. You will quickly learn to adjustthe absolute amount of charcoal for different size pots. Hint: 1 ringunder a 10-inch pot will have three pieces of freshly lit charcoalbetween each leg. A 12-inch pot will have four between each leg, a14-inch pot will have five, and yes, an 8-inch will have two. Ihonestly don't know how many pieces of charcoal make up the rings onthe lids, as I have never counted them.
If you absolutely mustknow what temperature is in the oven with a certain amount of charcoal,then get an oven thermometer and find out, but that takes all the funout of it. Learn to "feel" how much charcoal is right for a particulardish. I don't mean feel with your hands, but feel with your eyes. Look inside the pot to see if your food is simmering or baking properlyor browning properly, etc, and add or take away charcoal as needed.
Start a personalcookbook, and keep track of recipes, including how much charcoal youused, how long you cooked it, and whether it was done correctly. Thefinal answer is to practice, and keep records. You will rapidly learnhow much charcoal it takes to make your pot do what you want it to. Mymotto is to err on the hot side, as it is really hard to burn somethingin these pots, except as follows. Most Dutch oven cookbooks (there aremore than 35 in print) tell you to arrange the charcoal in acheckerboard pattern both on the lid and under the oven. I have only asmall problem with the lid arrangement, but I have a HUGE problem withthat arrangement under the pot. YOU WILL BURN THINGS WITH ACHECKERBOARD PATTERN UNDER A POT! Charcoal radiates heat in alldirections. Those that are under the outside edge of the pot willradiate heat not only up towards the pot, but in towards the centerunder the pot. ALL of the coals around the edge will add to thetemperature under the center of the pot. If you also have charcoalunder the center of the pot, as in a checkerboard pattern, the centerwill be much hotter than the outside edge, and the center of bakedfoods will frequently burn. Many experienced Dutch oven cooks stillswear by the "tried and true" method of checkerboard patterns, and theycook successfully. I have found that the ring method is more forgivingfor beginners. By the way, freshly lit charcoal will burn for about anhour when placed on/under a pot, unless it is very windy. When windy,it burns faster, and "blows" the heat down-wind. When windy, turn thepot 180 degrees 2 or 3 times while cooking to even out this effect.
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- I got a chance to visit with the Dinwiddies at Tyler, TX. and The National DOG this year.This is a good cooking meathod , since charcoal mfg have down sized their coals.
Thanks for your support.