Dutch oven cooking contest returns to Sharpsburg Heritage Festival

September 13, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Mike Carroll won the Dutch Oven Cook-Off last year at Sharpsburg Heritage Festival with his breakfast pizza. The cook-off will be held again this year at the festival, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17.
Submitted photo

SHARPSBURG — This isn't lowly camp grub.

Sure, the cooking vessel is a covered cast iron kettle and it's buried in coals.

It might even resemble something that swung off the back of a pioneer wagon.

But the food being prepared in today's Dutch oven has come a long way from salty stews and baked beans.

Now, there are recipes that feature olive oil and herbs, fruits and vegetables, breads and cakes.

And, in Mike Carroll's case, it's pizza.

A member of Sharpsburg Boy Scout Troop 51, cooking in a Dutch oven is nothing new to the 15-year-old.

He's been in Scouts for more than four years and camp cooking comes with the territory.

But he didn't expect to win a prize for his culinary skills until last year when he entered the Dutch Oven Cook-Off, a featured event at the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival.

His recipe for breakfast pizza captured first place.

The cook-off was the idea of Meredith Poffenberger, a festival organizer, who approached Troop 51 about hosting the activity.

There were about 12 entrants, she said, including an owner of a Volkswagen bus — an avid camper who does regular Dutch oven cooking and has participated in similar competitions.

His pineapple upside-down cake took second place, Poffenberger said.

Because of last year's success, the cook-off is returning to this year's Sharpsburg Heritage Festival, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17.

The competition, which is open to individuals and teams, will be held on Main Street, with winners selected by a panel of judges.

Proceeds from the $20 entry fee will go to the festival and Troop 51, as well as the first place cash prize. Poffenberger said entries will be accepted prior to the start of the competition. Interested contestants should go to the information gazebo before 9 a.m.

The Scouts will kick-off the cooking contest with a Dutch oven demonstration around 10 a.m., Poffenberger said. Also during the festival, there will be a Colonial open fire cooking demonstration, beginning at noon. Organizers also are hoping to have a Civil War cooking demonstration at 4 p.m.

Mike said he and his troop have been preparing breakfast pizza in a Dutch oven long before the competition.

"We make it quite often because it's a hearty and filling meal that is tasty and easy to make," he said.

The Boonsboro High School student said he decided to enter the recipe at the encouragement of his father, Greg Carroll, who is the troop's committee chairman. The recipe was created with the help of his Scoutmaster, John Stewart.

The ingredients for the pizza are pretty basic, he said, and include eggs, milk, crescent rolls, any kind of meat and cheese.

Mike described a Dutch oven as a cast iron pot that uses a lid to hold in heat. Hot coals are put on the top and bottom of the oven to heat the metal and cook the food.

"You can prepare almost anything in a Dutch oven," he said. "I have seen everything from cakes and pies to fried doughnuts. Almost anything you can think of can be cooked any way in a Dutch oven."

As last year's winner, Mike offered some advice for this year's contestants.

"Prepare about an hour and a half before judging starts. You want some time in case you make a mistake and it doesn't cook as fast," he said. "Also, don't freak out if you change the recipe a little. It may even come out better."

If you go ...

What: Dutch oven competition at Sharpsburg Heritage Festival

When: Saturday, Sept. 17; register by 9 a.m.

Where: Main Street, Sharpsburg

Cost: $20 entry fee

More: Dutch oven demonstration at 10 a.m. Colonial open fire cooking demonstration at noon. Civil War cooking demonstrations at 4 p.m.

In addition to the cook-off, the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival will include arts and crafts, historical reenactments, lectures, book signings, live music, horse and wagon rides and candlelight walks.

Contact: More information about the Dutch Oven Cook-Off and the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival is available by contacting or calling 301-991-0265.

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