1/2poundsmoked back bacon, chopped into mouth-sized pieces
3incheschorizo, chopped into small cubes
3poundsvenison – minced (ground) or cubed
1largewhite onion, peeled and chopped
1bulbgarlic, peeled and crushed
1tbspchipotle powder(adjust to taste)
1tbspchilli powder(adjust to taste)
4tbsptomato puree / tomato paste
1/2pintgood quality beef broth
1canred kidney beans(optional)
2large squares90% cocao dark chocolate
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat up a large dutch oven or large skillet. Add the bacon and chorizo and gently fry on a low heat until both are lightly browned.
Remove the bacon and chorizo from the pot and set to one side.
Now increase the temperature on the hob to a medium-high heat and add the venison.
Stir until the meat starts to brown.
Add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
Now add the rest of the ingredients – garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, ground coriander, chipotle powder, chili powder, tomato paste, beef broth and beans (drained).
Add the bacon and chorizo back in.
Add chocolate squares.
Reduce to a medium heat, place lid on pot and simmer for approx 3 hours.
If the chilli has a little too much liquid, you can remove the lid for the last part of the cook and allow to reduce down.
You can use minced venison (ground deer meat) for this, but my preference is to have cubed. Cubed venison makes for a more substantial dish in my opinion and is also more authentic.
Serve with either rice, tortilla chips, baked potato, fries (yes fries), or just have it straight up. I also like it with freshly buttered bread.
For toppings, go with some grated cheddar cheese, some sliced green onions, a dollop of sour cream and corn chips.
I like to make extra so I can also have it for lunches in the week. It always tastes even better the next day and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days! Store in an airtight container if you do this, or freeze for future use.
Swap chipotle powder for 2 chopped chipotle peppers if you have them.
This chili works equally as well with ground beef, elk meat, other wild game or indeed any other lean meat that you can get your hands on. If it’s fresh and good quality, it should be good in a chili. You can also make a vegetarian version out of mushrooms.
If you don’t have tomato puree/paste to hand, you can use tomato sauce, just be aware that it will make it taste a bit sweeter.
The beans are all entirely optional.
Keyword Chilli, Cubed, Slow cooker, Venison
Can I cook venison chili in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can cook venison chili in a slow cooker.
Simply do the initial fry in a large skillet or dutch oven and then transfer to the slow cooker when it’s ready for the final cook.
If cooking this way, make sure to not have too much liquid once at the slow cooker stage, as it will not be removed.
Reduce the amount of stock (beef broth) you add and you should be fine.
A slow cooker venison chili is amazing and a great way to cook chili once the main prep work has been done.
It also means you can get on with your day.
What gives chili a rich flavor?
A chili’s rich flavour comes from the ingredients you add, as well as reducing down the liquid to form a more concentrated depth of flavor.
Personally, I think a chili tastes even better once it has had time to sit for a day or so in the fridge.
The flavours just seem to improve.
A good slow cook also helps.
What enhances the flavor of chili?
This is somewhat a matter of opinion and largely comes down to personal taste, but generally speaking a good beef broth or stock is a great way to enhance the flavour of your chili.
Some recipes also call for coffee to be added and molasses.
Chili seasoning is a highly debatable subject, with many strong opinions on the matter.
Some other alternatives include cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, adobo sauce, green chilies and even a bay leaf.
It’s your chili, so do as you wish and experiment a little until you find what works for you.
Should I leave the fat on venison?
Yes, you should leave the fat on venison.
Venison is a very lean meat as it is and if it does have any fat, then this will only help add to the flavour of the dish.
Due to venison being so lean, it is quite common to be adding fat back in, such as some bacon or chorizo.
Simply put, you want some fat in a hearty venison chili, so stop worrying and crack it in.
Does chili get better the longer it sits?
Yes, the longer chili sits the better it gets.
It gives a chance for all the flavors to mix and combine and increases the flavour massively.
Obviously, there is a limit. 1-2 days in the fridge is about max.
If you intend to keep longer then you should freeze.
Does venison chili taste gamey?
No, venison chili does not taste gamey.
In fact, if you are concerned about gameness, then this is probably one of the best venison recipes to try.
The combination of flavours in this easy venison chili recipe takes over and is a guaranteed hit.
Give it a try and you will see.
What is the best thickener for chili?
The best way to thicken a big pot of chili is to leave the lid slightly off while cooking, so that the liquid can evaporate off.
This reduces the chili down to a thicker sauce.
Another method is to add cornflour to the chili, but I would only do this if you have to.
Try reducing it first though.
Does chili taste better the longer it cooks?
Yes, chili tastes better the longer it cooks.
Cooking it for longer gives the flavours more of a chance to develop fully and will improve the dish.
Good chili toppings
There are many toppings you can add to your venison chili.
Here are some of my favorites:
Green onions (sliced)
Grated cheddar cheese
Sliced chili pepper to taste
Looking for more venison goodness? I would highly recommend trying my venison burgers
Dutch ovens provide a fantastic way to cook outdoors.
This article guides you through everything you need to know about camp dutch oven cooking, from selection to care and maintenance.
There are also some tasty recipes to try out!
Let’s jump in!
What is a camp Dutch oven?
A dutch oven that is designed for outdoor use, is commonly known as a camp dutch oven.
Put simply they are a cooking vessel, constructed of heavy, cast iron material, that allows you to cook efficiently over an open fire.
These ovens enable you to cook a wide variety of foods, from bread to more exotic main meals and will serve you well for your camp cooking needs.
This article explains what they do and how you can use them within bushcraft and other outdoor activities.
History of the Dutch oven
The dutch ovens of today owe their original design to Englishman, Abraham Darcy after he travelled to Holland to look for a better way to mould metals.
At the time, the Dutch were experts in casting brass pots using sand, which was a different method to that of loam and clay, which the Brits used.
He returned to England and decided to use cast iron instead of brass to make the pot, and the first incarnation of the cast-iron ‘dutch oven’ was born.
During the American colonial era, legs and a lid flange were added.
This version of Dutch ovens (legs or without) is what we know these days as a campDutch oven and were the cooking vessels favoured by the early American pioneers.
Often mentioned in peoples wills, as to who they should go to upon the owner’s death, they were an item of great importance and value.
They were the oven of choice for the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 – 1806, as they travelled and mapped the waterways from Pittsburgh in the East, to the Pacific coast out West.
These days, dutch oven cooking is very much alive and well, with a multitude of organisations around the world, such as the International Dutch Oven Society, still practising this fun, tasty and authentic way of cooking.
Design and features
Most ovens are made of cast iron and black in colour (unless rusty) – and have a pot and lid section.
There are some aluminium dutch oven designs out there, such as the GSI version, but these are not so common.
Most designs usually have a large carrying handle, which also allows the oven to be suspended over a fire, using a purpose-made tripod or pot hanger.
As above, most camp-style ovens also have 3 legs on the bottom, which are designed to let the oven sit directly in the fire’s embers, whilst providing stability and keeping the main pot raised above the coals.
Some users prefer not to have these legs though, which we will get into later.
As a large part of the camp Dutch oven cooking process comes from the heat above it, they all include a lid that is designed to have embers placed on top of them.
This allows heat to come from above and below.
This lid features a lip around its edge that stops the embers from falling into the pot when the lid is lifted – and into your food!
Due to their cast iron construction, they are heavy, so are not really suited to any hiking activities!
However, if you have a vehicle to transport it in, such as a car, 4wd or canoe, they are an excellent option for your campfire cooking, especially if you are staying put for a while.
Why do some Dutch ovens have legs?
As above, you can buy a camp-style dutch oven with legs, or without legs.
The rest of the oven is generally identical.
What you go for will depend on how you intend to use the oven and your needs.
Indeed Ray Mears comments in the video below that he prefers a dutch oven without legs, due to the possibility of them breaking when being stored and transported in vehicles.
Take a look at Ray baking some bread below to see what I mean – it’s also a good recipe!
As you can see, he’s opting for no legs, due to the portability factor.
We would argue that the legs are very robust, and do not get damaged with normal use and transportation.
You should be storing your oven in a better manner if that’s a problem, but everyone has their views, and they do indeed have the potential to catch on things.
If you are solely going to cook on a tripod with your oven, above a fire, then the legs may not be necessary for you and it may be best to go for a simple legless pot.
If however, you are only going to buy one oven, and want to be able to use it straight on top of embers, with the added functionality of still being able to use it on a tripod, we would opt for the legged variety, as it allows you to comfortably do both.
Of course, the best thing is to have two ovens, one with legs, one without and you can then choose which one is best suited to your trip – or take both.
How to season a cast iron Dutch oven
As with all cast iron cookware, a dutch oven will need to be seasoned before it can be used.
Many ovens now come pre-seasoned, so you can technically cook on them straight away.
However, this factory seasoning can almost always be improved on, so it would be wise to season the oven yourself before use regardless.
This is an essential process to get your oven off to a good start.
Does a Dutch oven need to be seasoned?
Cast iron in its raw state, will rust and is not non-stick.
In order to make it non-stick, we must first correctly season the iron.
This seasoning process applies a very thin layer of oil to the metal surface of the oven, which is then placed inside a larger oven or stovetop and heated to a very high temperature.
This process ‘bakes’ the fat onto the metal, to form a hard and protective layer on the oven surface, known as seasoning.
You ideally want a ‘drying oil’, that hardens as it heats and doesn’t leave an oily residue.
I keep it simple and use standard vegetable oil.
In the UK is usually either rapeseed oil or sunflower oil.
This currently works well for me.
You now need to get the dutch oven very hot in order to seal it.
You will need to use your kitchen oven if your camp oven will fit inside.
Alternatively, you can use a kettle type BBQ so that the lid creates an oven in itself.
As the dutch oven now has a thin layer of oil on it, this process can cause some smoke, as the oil heats up.
Therefore, this process is best done outside if you can, but if you have to do this inside, prepare accordingly by ensuring good ventilation.
As with most things like this, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular dutch oven.
As a general guideline, you will want to get your oven up to around 205 ℃ / 400 F for the seasoning process to work correctly.
Once complete, this process seals the oven, protecting it from rust and giving the oven its natural non-stick coating.
If you are looking for a perfect finish, this process may need to be repeated a few times (4-6) to get the desired result.
With careful use, cleaning and storage, the oven should not need seasoning again and the seasoned layer will actually improve over time.
If it does need doing again, and your pan starts to rust, or the seasoned layer is just not up to standard anymore, simply follow the steps above to restore it back to its full glory.
The short Lodge video below also goes through a similar process.
Fuel for Dutch ovens
You can use a variety of fuels with your oven.
If out in the woods, you may have some decent dry firewood available to you.
If using this, you want a type that produces a good bed of embers when it burns down, as these are what provides the majority of heat for your oven.
Go for hardwoods like Oak and Ash if you can, as these will produce a good bed of embers.
Softwoods will burn quickly and will work, but will not produce as good a bed of embers like the above hardwoods will.
How to use a Dutch oven with charcoal
You can also use charcoal, which is a popular choice, which you can bring with you.
This generally comes in either lump wood or briquette form.
Either is good, but the briquettes seem to hold the heat for the longest time and give a good steady burn.
Tip – If using charcoal, an easy way to get your coals going is to use a chimney starter, such as the Weber version pictured below.
How many coals do I need for a camp oven?
If using wood, it’s a bit more of a guess as to the number of embers that you need.
It depends on the wood used and oven size.
Experience will help you get a good idea of cooking times and temperature for your oven, so get cooking and find out what works.
If using charcoal, the rough rule of thumb is to use twice the amount of coals as to your oven size.
So, if you have a 12″ oven, then you need 24 coals.
This is quite simplistic but is a good rough guide.
For a more exact heat and coal number, including the amount that should be placed above and below – the table below shows the suggested amount.
Dutch oven coal temperature chart
Cleaning a camp oven
A good cleaning and maintenance regime will keep your oven in tip-top condition.
Clean your oven as below:
Scrape all food residues to loosen them from the surface and remove.
Pour in some hot water and scrub with a brush until all food residue is removed. Use some washing up liquid if necessary.
Rinse out with fresh water and dry with a lint-free tea towel or similar and leave to air dry.
Now place a small amount of vegetable oil in the pan, and wipe this around both sides of the pot and lid, so that all the surfaces are coated with a very thin layer of oil.
Your oven is now clean and ready for its next use.
Can you use soap to clean a dutch oven?
The short answer is yes. There is no issue using a mild detergent, such as washing up liquid to clean a dutch oven.
There is a common misconception that the soap will remove the seasoned layer, as soap breaks down fat and it is this fat that forms the seasoning.
However, the fat has gone through a chemical process when the oven was seasoned and is chemically bonded to the metal through this heat process.
It will therefore not be removed with soap, so feel free to use it if required.
How to store your cast iron Dutch oven
Store your oven in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area.
Your oven should have a very thin layer of oil on all of its surfaces to protect it during storage.
Do not use lard or similar, as this can go rancid if left for a long period.
Use vegetable oil and wipe off any excess.
If storing the pot and lid together, leave a small gap by placing a folded up tea towel or similar between the pot and the lid.
This will allow fresh air to circulate inside the oven, allowing any moisture to escape and help prevent any rust from forming.
What utensils do you use with a Dutch oven?
You can use all normal cooking utensils in your oven, both wood and metal, without them damaging the seasoned layer.
Just use them with care though and don’t be too rough.
How long will a camp dutch oven last for?
Properly cared for, your oven should easily outlast you and can be handed down to the next generation.
They should easily last 100 years or more and there is no reason why they can’t last for a few hundred years.
There is something deeply satisfying about owning and using something that you know will still be able to be used by your family, long after you have gone.
Not the dying bit though!!!
Purchasing one should definitely be considered an investment and is why I would recommend purchasing a good quality one from the outset – and looking after it.
What size dutch oven should I buy for camping?
The 8-quart (12 inch) is a good size for cooking larger meals, for multiple persons, but is also fine for smaller meals too.
We have this size, as it is a good all-rounder, whatever you decide to cook.
We’re also gluttons when it comes to food like this, so having some extra available is no bad thing in our opinion – it will all disappear 🙂
There are different sizes available to suit your needs, so go with what you feel is best for you.
A smaller size will do if you generally only cook for 1-2 people.
What is the best camp oven to buy?
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
There are multiple brands of camp dutch ovens on the market, with the cheaper ovens often being made in China.
These areoften of a much lower quality than the USA or European brands – that’s just a fact.
If that’s all you can afford, or just want to dip your toe in and try dutch oven cooking, then these will certainly have their uses – you may end up disappointed though.
We always strongly recommend going for the best kit you can afford – it usually works out cheaper in the long run.
If you go for one of the decent makes, and your dutch oven ends up lasting you 100 years or more, that initial investment will seem quite insignificant, given the years of use and enjoyment that you and your family get out of it.
With that in mind, we would recommend either Lodge or Petromax dutch ovens.
Is Lodge a good Dutch oven brand?
Yes. They are considered the best brand out there.
We personally own and currently use the Lodge 8-quart 12 inch – deep camp dutch oven.
We went for this as Lodge, in our opinion, make the best ovens and have a great pedigree.
They are made in Lodge’s USA factory, to a very high standard.
They are pricey, especially in Europe, but as above, we view it as an investment and see it as great value considering what you are getting in return.
No-nonsense and great looking, these will last you and your family a very long time indeed.
When you receive your dutch oven, new or otherwise, take a few moments to check its build quality.
Place the lid on the oven and make sure that it’s a tight fit all around.
Make sure that the lid does not rock and sits flat on all sides.
Spin the lid to make sure that it easily rotates and is circular.
Check the oven sidewalls to make sure they are of equal thickness all around.
Inspect all surfaces, inside and out, for any notable cracks or blemishes on the metal’s surface.
Ensure that the bail arm is secured to each side of the oven, at opposite sides to each other. These alternate fixing points prevent the handle falling off if the oven tips to one side when carrying the oven.
Camp dutch oven accessories
You don’t necessarily need any special accessories to use your oven, you can use what you have in the kitchen – even a stick to lift the lid if necessary.
If you want the correct kit, however, you may want to take a look at the below.
Camp Dutch Oven Lid lifter
One item that you will need when cooking with these ovens is some form of lid-lifter.
You can use a claw hammer or a strong stick, but a proper tool for the job is a purpose-made device such as the one made by Petromax below.
This has the added advantage of being able to be used as a poker for the embers of your fire.
These types of stoves are usually cylindrical in design and incorporate an external jacket.
How does a wood burning camp stove work?
This jacket funnels warm air (taken from the external vents below), upwards.
This warm air is then deposited into the top of the main fire compartment, via the internal vent holes, just above the flames.
The Solo Stove diagram below shows the process in more detail.
As you can see in the diagram, the airflow process effectively fans the flames, similar to when you blow on a fire to get it roaring.
This creates a hotter, cleaner burn, and also helps to reduce soot build-up.
The above process will begin to happen once the fire in the main compartment has warmed the stove up to operating temperature.
Wood stove round-up
Whether you opt for the box or wood gas type, these stoves are very popular and have very little to go wrong.
They are therefore a great choice if you are looking for a no-nonsense stove, that should last for many years.
The fact that most can also incorporate other fuels, such as meths or hexy blocks, is an added bonus and further increases their versatility in the field.
The main consideration on which type to go for would be transportation.
If you want one that can fold away into a flat package, the box type is probably your best bet.
They take a little assembling, and they can be a little frustrating to put together at times, but once together, they are solid.
If portability isn’t your primary concern and you are happy with a fixed unit, the wood gas type is a great option.
Theseare already good to go, so are great from a time perspective, but do not fully pack down.
Your choice will ultimately boil down to space and your trip length.
What is a Solostove?
A Solostove is a type of wood gas stove that is cylindrical in design and incorporates a jacket, so that cold air can be drawn upwards from the bottom of the stove, warmed by the flames and then delivered to the top of the stove where it fans the flame and produces a hotter burn.
See the image above for a visual description.
What is a twig stove?
A twig stove is a type of camping/outdoor stove that uses natural materials, such as dry twigs, leaves, pine cones, pine needles etc.
These stoves are a great option if you have a reliable supply of fuel as they can be run on free to find materials.
Additionally, some models allow you to incorporate a basic burner, such as a Trangia or you can just use a basic hexy block. See above for more on these.
Sometimes known as an alcohol or spirit burner, this style of stove is another simple option for bushcraft activities.
They are generally known as Trangias, although this is a brand name and they are not all made by Trangia.
These stoves are small in design, lightweight and portable.
You will need some form of pot support as well, as these will not generally work with a pot placed directly on them.
However, there are many options available.
How does a Trangia work?
These burners all work on the same principle, in that you partially fill the main central chamber with fuel, then light it.
The main chamber will slowly burn (sometimes it’s very hard to see) and heat up the stove and fuel.
Once it is up to operating temperature, the fuel that is in the outside chamber, starts to vapourise.
This vapour then rises up to the small pinprick vents at the top, where it combusts.
This is often referred to as ‘blooming’ and means the burner is now ready to cook on.
Trangia spirit burner
The Trangia Spirit Burner pictured above is the best known and most widely used meth/alcohol burner out there.
Low cost, virtually indestructible and brilliantly simple in its design, this is a fantastic, relatively lightweight stove, with a multitude of applications.
Designed back in 1951, at Trangia’s headquarters in Sweden, not much has changed.
It is made of brass, with a weight of 110g and consists of the main burner unit, screw-on lid and a simmer ring.
The simmer ring’s design allows the flame to be regulated and also allows you to extinguish the burner completely when finished.
The stove is designed to run on methylated spirits (denatured alcohol). This fuel can be obtained very cheaply from your local hardware store.
It is worth noting that this burner can be used on its own if it is placed in a sheltered depression and your cooking vessel suspended above.
In general, though, the spirit burner is designed to be used inside a cooking system.
This shares the same chemical structure as butane but delivers higher pressure, which increases flame performance.
If you want to read more about gas stove fuel options see the MSR article here.
Modern gas stoves may struggle at extreme altitudes, but for most applications, they will operate absolutely fine.
Due to the above, these stoves are slowly becoming the choice of professional mountaineers.
This is due to their simplicity and the fact that they are generally more lightweight and safer in use than liquid fuel options.
One thing with gas stoves is that you do need to have the correct gas canister cartridge for your stove.
You also need to be able to find these fairly easily should you need to get replacements.
This is not usually a problem in more developed parts of the world, but may be an issue in more remote regions.,
Make sure to check this before setting off if you are likely to need more.
How does a camping stove work?
In general, most gas stoves simply require you to:
attach the gas canister by screwing it onto the burner (clockwise)
deploy the pan and stove supports (if any)
turn on gas by opening the valve
Some stoves even feature an integrated piezo ignition, which ignites the gas for you when you turn on the gas.
This is a handy feature to have.
However, even if your stove has this, you should always carry an alternative form of ignition.
This could be a ferro rod or lighter, in case the piezo ignition fails for whatever reason.
Top-mounted canister stoves
This is the most common type (see picture above). The gas canister screws onto the bottom of the burner and acts as the stove’s base.
Because of this, top-mounted stoves require a very stable and level surface to place the complete unit on.
This style of stove set-up often becomes top-heavy.
This is especially true if you have a lot of liquid in the cooking vessel that might slosh from side to side.
This sloshing can then end up tipping the stove over, including your food.
It is therefore important to site the stove correctly in the first place, on a flat, level surface.
Be vigilant of any gusts of wind that might have your pot toppling.
You also need to guard against you or your companions knocking into it.
Although the above is a bit of a drawback with this style, the fact that they are simple and generally cheaper than other designs, makes them a popular and solid choice for your bushcraft cooking needs.
Remote mounted canister stoves
This style of gas stove is by far the most stable, due to the burner being much lower to the ground and having a set of wide legs for stabilisation and support.
The gas canister is attached to a hose that allows the canister to sit to one side, adjacent to the burner.
However, due to the additional materials used, they are generally a little more expensive to buy than the top-mounted style.
Other than that, they generally operate in much the same way as top–mounted stoves.
Liquid fuel portable stoves
Liquid fuel stoves generally cost more than their gas-fired cousins.
They also usually weigh more and involve a bit more effort in their operation.
With this in mind, why would you choose to opt for liquid fuel over the more common gas cartridge type?
What are the advantages of a liquid fuel stove?
In most cases, it chiefly centers around the fuel that you can obtain.
If you are operating in remote locations, for extended periods, a liquid fuel stove may be the better option over gas or other types.
The reason for this is that gas canisters are not always readily available should you run out.
They are usually stocked in outdoor shops and available online.
However, if you are out of area and certainly if you are in a different country, you may not be able to come across them quite so easily.
You can obviously bring 1 or 2 in your pack when you are on shorter outings.
For extended trips though, such as expeditions etc, you need to be mindful of how much fuel you are likely to use.
It is likely that you will find that you do not have the room to be taking heaps of gas canisters with you.
Added to this, once used, empty gas canisters need to be brought out with you and disposed of responsibly.
This creates additional dead weight and space that you will have to carry out with you.
Here lies the advantage of liquid fuel stoves!
In most places around the world, you can find some form of fuel to use in your stove.
Most liquid fuel stoves burn a variety of fuels, that are readily available across the globe, so you should never (hopefully) find yourself without a fuel source.
These include – white gas (also known as Coleman Fuel), petrol (auto gasoline), kerosene, diesel and more.