No-knead Dutch oven bread

I love bread. There, I said it. Bread is one of those foods I just can’t get enough of, especially when it’s fresh out of the oven. For some reason, people like to pretend as though bread is no big deal, a behavior reinforced by phrases like “Man does not live by bread alone.” The truth of the matter is that all humans love the stuff way more than they’re willing to admit.

Skip to the short version

” Cut a slice of piping hot bread as fast as you possibly can “

Another strange thing about bread is that everyone thinks it’s hard to make. Yes of course it can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. This recipe in particular uses four ingredients, takes maybe 10 minutes of hands-on time, requires zero know how, and costs about a dollar. Believe it or not, bread is one of the very first things I learned how to cook as a kid, preceded only by grilled cheese and pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I am hardly a master baker, nor do I truly understand the science behind what happens when you mix things together and stick them in the oven. What I am good at is finding a recipe or two I like and making them over and over until they come out right. This particular recipe is an improvement over an old one I used to use. It’s sourced from The Merlin Menu, and it has never let me down.

Before we go any further, let’s get this Dutch oven thing out of the way. About half of you reading this post are still giggling just from seeing the title, while the other half of you don’t understand what’s so funny. The phrase “Dutch oven” has a double meaning, you see. The original, more traditional meaning refers to a versatile type of cooking pot. The more recent and far more hilarious definition involves flatulence, bed sheets, and often a very angry spouse. If you’re interested in the details, I’ll let you read about it for yourself. Trust me though, it is pretty funny.

The less amusing version of a Dutch oven.

The less amusing version of a Dutch oven.

Back on topic… One of the keys to making good bread is keeping the dough from drying out while it bakes. Professional baking ovens have steam injectors that help create wonderfully moist bread with why-doesn’t-it-turn-out-like-this-at-home crust. Since most of us don’t have professional baking ovens, we’re going to cheat. A Dutch oven (Go ahead, get your giggles out of the way. I’ll wait.) creates its own steam when you bake in it, resulting in amazing bread and humorous recipe write-ups alike. Any type of Dutch oven will do (except the funny kind), but make sure yours can handle temperatures of 450 degrees F. Some Dutch ovens have plastic knobs that will need to be replaced before you try this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast (preferably Fleischmann’s original)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a Dutch oven
  • a mixer (or a mixing bowl and wooden spoon)
  • plastic wrap
  • parchment paper
  • opposable thumbs
  • consciousness


Directions

If you have a mixer, attach the dough hook and turn it to the lowest speed. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (I prefer to mix the yeast with a spoon in a smaller, separate container to make sure it’s fully dissolved) and pour it into the mixer. Slowly add two cups of flour, then the salt, then the final cup of flour. When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, it’s done.

This dough is ready for greatness.

This dough is ready for greatness.

Tightly cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for six to eight hours. If you want to have this bread with dinner at 5pm, you’d better get the dough mixed by about 9am.

Don't go too much over eight hours or the dough will sometimes deflate a bit.

Don’t go too much over eight hours or the dough will sometimes deflate a bit.

After rising, the dough will be very loose and bubbly. It’ll be pretty darned sticky as well, but don’t worry about that. Lay down a sheet of parchment paper and dust it with one or two tablespoons of flour, then “pour” the dough into the center of the paper. Just turn the bowl upside-down and use a rubber scraper to separate the dough from the bowl along one side – it will pull itself out the rest of the way. Dust the top of the dough with more flour to keep your fingers from sticking to it and start pulling and tucking under the edges to form a rough ball.

Yep, it's a ball alright.

Yep, it’s a ball alright.

It doesn’t have to be perfect; none of us here are Martha Stewart. As you might have guessed from the subtle and cleverly written title of this recipe, you are not required to knead the dough at all. Once you have achieved something vaguely ball-like, cover it with a dish towel and allow it to rise for another hour.

Preheat your oven with the Dutch oven inside it to 450 degrees F. Once it’s fully preheated, remove the Dutch oven (carefully) and, using the parchment paper like a hammock, place the dough ball inside it, paper and all. Take a sharp knife and make three slits on the top of the dough – this either allows steam to escape or makes a fashion statement, I’m not sure which.

Dutch oven bread, apparently sponsored by Adidas.

Dutch oven bread, apparently sponsored by Adidas.

Put the lid back on the Dutch oven, put the whole thing back in the full size oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, or until you have achieved a mouth-watering golden brown color.

It's ok to admit that this makes you hungry.

It’s ok to admit that this makes you hungry.

At this point, every other baking recipe I have ever seen says “allow to cool”. What a monumentally stupid suggestion that is. Why on Earth would I do that? That’s like saying “Allow your tires to go flat before driving your car.” I just don’t get it.

Because this is MY food blog, I’m going to tell you to cut a slice of piping hot bread as fast as you possibly can, slap a giant wad of butter on it, and send it down the hatch. Now cut another slice, add another wad of butter and this time a drizzle of honey as well, and send that one down the hatch after the first one. Dee-flippin-licious.

You are now officially allowed to proclaim that you a baker, and that you love bread. Enjoy.

Fresh bread, real butter, and lavender honey. Beat that.

Fresh bread, real butter, and lavender honey. Beat that.



tl;dr

No-knead Dutch oven bread

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a Dutch oven
  • a mixer (or a mixing bowl and wooden spoon)
  • plastic wrap
  • parchment paper


Directions

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Slowly add 2 cups of flour, then the salt, then the final cup of flour. Continue mixing until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 6 to 8 hours. Lay out a section of parchment paper and dust with flour. Scrape dough onto paper and form into a rough ball. Cover with a dishtowel and allow to rise another hour. Place empty Dutch oven and lid in conventional oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Place dough ball and parchment paper in Dutch oven, cover, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven, allow to cool slightly, slice and serve hot.



Backdoor Chili

Everybody thinks they have a good chili recipe. Some actually do, but they are in the minority. Now don’t get all offended at me, I’m not talking about your chili in particular. It might be great and all but really, do you feel confident enough about your recipe to enter a contest with it? Yeah, me either. David Valega, on the other hand, won the freaking world championship in 1990 with his “Backdoor Chili” recipe. Give it a whirl and you’ll find out exactly why.

Skip to the short version

” I [your name] swear not to add veggies or anything else healthy to this chili “

One of the many things I like about this recipe is that it requires no chopping or cutting of any kind. All of the ingredients are either meat, liquids, or powders. Easy peasy! It’s also not especially spicy (although it can be made to be) and it comes together in three or four hours tops. This is one of my go-to guaranteed slam dunk crowd pleaser recipes; I’ve made this for a number of different parties and have always received rave reviews. If only I had come up with this one myself… *sigh* No matter. I will paraphrase David’s superb recipe in this blog entry, but if you’re interested in the original, here it is.

My army of ingredients has been assembled, ready to do battle against vegetable-laden counterfeit chili knockoffs.

My army of ingredients has been assembled, ready to do battle against vegetable-laden counterfeit chili knockoffs.

If you’ve never had “true” (aka Texas style) chili before, this recipe may throw you off a little. There is absolutely no fluff whatsoever, and that’s how it’s meant to be. There are no beans, corn, wacky garnishes, or anything else – it’s just meat and flavor, period. If you like beans (I sure as heck do), make them separately and serve them on the side. For the love of all that is pure and good in this world, please do not add veggies. I beg you. NO VEGGIES. Repeat after me: “I [your name] swear not to add veggies or anything else healthy to this chili.” Good. I have experienced more bowls of chili that have been ruined by green things than I care to recall. I’m looking at you, California.


Ingredients

Part 1

  • 3 lbs beef chuck tender (You can also sub ground beef or turkey)
  • olive oil
  • two 14.5oz cans beef broth
  • one 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 dashes Tabasco pepper sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbls onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp red (cayenne) pepper
  • 2 tsp low sodium beef bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp low sodium chicken bouillon granules

Part 2

  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbls cumin
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 6 tbls chili powder (preferably Gebhardt’s)
  • salt to taste


Directions

Brown the meat in the bottom of a large pot using a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, and Tabasco sauce and stir well. Add the rest of the ingredients from part 1: Onion powder, red pepper, beef bouillon, and chicken bouillon. Stir until well mixed and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until the mixture is at a medium boil (or a strong simmer, if you prefer to think of it that way) and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, adding water as necessary. When is “necessary”? Well, if there are dry bits of meat protruding well above the surface of the liquid, you need to add water. If there aren’t, you don’t. If you need to stretch out your cooking time a bit (say, if your dinner guests are running late), it won’t hurt a thing to simmer the mixture in this state for an hour or even two.

This is what "enough liquid" looks like. Pretty scientific, right?

This is what “enough liquid” looks like. Pretty scientific, right?

When you are within half an hour of dinnertime, add all of the ingredients from part 2: Garlic powder, cumin, white pepper, and chili powder. Stir well, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, salt to taste and remove from heat. Serve with grated cheddar cheese (I like Tillamook sharp), chopped white onion, and pinto beans. It’s also great over pasta, on hot dogs, with Fritos… Heck, I’ve even thought about brushing my teeth with this stuff. Just remember, put the veggies in a salad bowl and let the awesome simplicity of this chili speak for itself. Welcome to the big leagues.

Look at that bowl of perfection. David Valega's chili can beat up your chili.

Look at that bowl of perfection. David Valega’s chili can beat up your chili.



tl;dr

Backdoor chili

Ingredients

Part 1

  • 3 lbs beef chuck tender (You can also sub ground beef or turkey)
  • olive oil
  • two 14.5oz cans beef broth
  • one 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 dashes Tabasco pepper sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbls onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp red (cayenne) pepper
  • 2 tsp low sodium beef bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp low sodium chicken bouillon granules

Part 2

  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbls cumin
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 6 tbls chili powder (preferably Gebhardt’s)


Directions

Brown meat in a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, and Tabasco sauce and stir well. Add onion powder, red pepper, beef bouillon, and chicken bouillon, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and medium boil uncovered for 45 minutes. Add garlic powder, cumin, white pepper, and chili powder. Stir, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Salt to taste, remove from heat, and serve with grated cheddar cheese.



Experimental pizza roll

I nearly named this recipe “pizza doh” because it really didn’t look like it was going to turn out, but in spite of itself it ended up being something humans can eat. My better half described this recipe as “a fun way to eat pizza”, and I think that description is spot-on. The entire process of preparing this was equal parts recipe and experiment, and the results were favorable enough that I’ll be making this again.

Skip to the short version

” The tube detonated with a doughy ‘wump’ “

As usual, I did not come up with this idea myself. I was not influenced by any one recipe – simply browsing through dozens of “pizza roll” and “rolled up pizza” recipes available on the interwebs was enough to get an idea of what to do.


Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1 metric ton shredded mozzerella
  • 1 gaggle pepperoni (I’m pretty sure they come in gaggles. If not, they should)
  • green olives to taste (Read: The whole jar.)
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar premade pizza sauce


Directions:

Set your oven to 375 degrees F.  Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and mentally prepare yourself to open the tube of pizza dough. I know that opening the tube sounds simple, but it didn’t go so smoothly when I tried it. Perhaps it would have helped if I had read the directions, or perhaps I am exceedingly sub-par when compared to whatever Pillsbury considers to be the lowest common denominator. Regardless, when I pulled the little triangular tab, the tube detonated with a doughy “wump”, shredding the pristine sheet of rolled up pizza dough that was once inside. Super. If this same exact thing happens to you, welcome to the slow class – there’s an available seat right here next to mine. Do your best to patch together the tattered dough remnants into something vaguely rectangular and place it on the sheet of foil.  Try not to dwell on this humiliating moment.

Add a layer of pepperoni directly onto the Frankendough, covering as much area as you can.  Next sprinkle some shredded cheese…. No, not sprinkle. Sprinkle is too small of a word to describe how cheese is applied. Heap some shredded cheese on top of the pepperoni in an even layer. Wait, you’re saying. WAIT. Where’s the sauce?? Aha! That’s all part of the plan. The sauce comes later. Much later. For now just keep your socks on and do what I say.

Add any other toppings you like at this point, namely green olives. Lots of ’em.  I’m not sure if any other pizza toppings actually exist, but if they do feel free to use them I guess. You can also dash a bit of Italian seasoning over the top of everything as well, and maybe add some garlic powder and Parmesan if you’re feeling extra sassy.

It ain't pretty, but even an ugly pizza can be a good pizza.

It ain’t pretty, but even an ugly pizza can be a good pizza.

Starting at one of the shorter sides, carefully begin rolling up the whole mess into kind of a large mutated burrito.  Lightly rub the top with some olive oil and a dust bit more Italian seasoning on top to help hide the horrific scars.  Stick it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I don't remember putting a hand grenade in this before baking it.

I don’t remember putting a hand grenade in this before baking it.

Ah. Well this is awkward. Quickly, cut the roll into slices before anyone notices that the whole operation has gone pear-shaped.  At this point, just pretend like everything that has happened so far has been according to plan.  The more confident you seem, the less likely guests will be to question your methods.

Serve the roll slices with some warmed up pizza sauce (for dipping) and try not to burn off all the flesh from the roof of your mouth.

Well hey, that didn't turn out so bad afterall.

Well hey, that didn’t turn out so bad afterall.



tl;dr

Experimental pizza roll

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1 metric ton shredded mozzerella
  • 1 gaggle pepperoni
  • green olives to taste
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar premade pizza sauce


Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Open tube of dough and lay on a flat surface. Layer on pepperoni, cheese, olives, and any other toppings you like. Roll up dough and pinch trailing edge against roll to seal. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Slice roll and serve with heated pizza sauce.