Step by Step Guide to building an underground oven…outside!

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1. Supplies: large river rocks or bricks or medium-sized stones, Dutch oven or cast-iron pot, shovel, fire making supplies, meat thermometer

2. Prepare the oven: Dig a hole approximately twice as wide and deep as your cook pot. Line the bottom and sides with river rocks. Place additional rocks around the rim of the pit (to be warmed by the fire and then placed on top of the pot later).

3. Build a large fire in the rock-lined pit. Be aware of local regulations and any nearby structures or flammable material. Have water and a fire extinguisher handy. Enjoy the fire while you wait for it to heat the stones.

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4. Cook. Dig out the ash, being careful not to displace the stones. Place the pot, filled with delicious dinner items, into the stone-lined pit, then, using a shovel, place the extra stones that were heated earlier on top of the pot. Cover all of it with dirt left from digging the hole.

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5. Wait. It seems like forever, especially if anyone in your group is hAngry. We recommend having a snack ready for this interval. It may take an hour or so for the food to be cooked. Check the soil temperature with the meat thermometer periodically.

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6. Take the food out of the oven. Gently uncover your pot by digging dirt off the top and using the shovel (the stones are still hot!) to remove the stones on top of the pot. Using a gloved hand, remove the pot by the handle.

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7. Enjoy! Underground, or Dutch, oven cooking, is one of the most rewarding ways to prepare a meal, whether it’s in wilderness, or your backyard. It forces you to slow-down, and spend a little extra time outdoors.

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