If you can cook Dutch oven biscuits over an open fire, you can cook anything. At some point, just about every campfire cowboy has tried their hand at making biscuits . . . and failed. And the reason is simple: too much heat on the bottom of the oven, not enough heat on the top.
Yep, it’s a fine balance. But I’m going to walk you through the process with today’s Outsider Cowboy Cooking. Dutch oven biscuits with sawmill gravy can be finicky. The biscuits take a little bit of patience and a lot of trust. But once you master the homemade biscuit, you’ll never go back to those—dare I say it—canned monstrosities masquerading as biscuits.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tbs. unsalted butter
- 2 tbs. vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 pound breakfast sausage
- 8 oz. half-and-half (or whole milk)
- 1 tbs. butter
- 2 tbs. flour
Cowboy Cooking Vessels
I’m baking the biscuits in my Lodge No. 10 Dutch Oven. This model features legs and a bailed handle for hanging over the fire, which I’m utilizing today. This 4-quart oven easily fits 8 2-inch biscuits.
I’m making the sawmill gravy in my Lodge No. 8 Dutch Oven. Again, this model features legs and a bailed handle. The legs on this model come in handy today, as the gravy cooks directly on top of the embers.
Finally, I’m melting some of the butter in my Lodge 15-Ounce Sauce Pot.
Other than building a good cooking fire (more embers, less flame) and measuring your ingredients, there isn’t a lot of prep work for this dish besides buttering the inside of the No. 10 Dutch oven.
Dutch Oven Biscuits Directions
Combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar) in a mixing bowl. Whisk. Add the butter and vegetable shortening and gently mix with your hands. Add the buttermilk and gently mix with a wooden spatula until a dough forms.
Dust a cutting board with flour. Place the dough on the cutting board. Roll the dough into 1-inch thickness. Fold the 1-inch dough over itself (roll and fold 5 more times). Using a biscuit cutter (or the top of a juice glass), cut the 1-inch-thick dough into 2-inch biscuits by pressing straight down (do not twist).
Place the biscuits in the Dutch oven and cover with a lid (this lid is flanged to hold embers). Cover the lid with a layer of embers. Hang the Dutch oven so the bottom is about two feet above your fire bed. Hanging the oven—as opposed to placing the oven directly on top of embers—will help prevent scorching. In my experience, hanging the oven yields better biscuits for the novice chef because the heat from below is more uniform and you don’t need to constantly adjust the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the Dutch oven 180 degrees on its bailed handle (to ensure even cooking). Bake for 10 more minutes.
Melt 1 tsp. butter in the sauce pot. Pour the butter over the top of the biscuits and bake for 1-2 more minutes. Remove the Dutch from the fire.
Sawmill Gravy Directions
Place the No. 8 Dutch oven directly over the embers. Add the sausage. Cook thoroughly, about 6 minutes. When the sausage is cooked, push to one side of the Dutch oven. Add the butter. When it melts, sprinkle the flour into the Dutch oven to make a roux.
Keep stirring the roux and sausage so it doesn’t burn, about 2 minutes. Add 8 oz. of half-and-half. Continue stirring and cooking, about 3 minutes, until the mixture reaches the thickness of gravy. Add pepper to taste.
Cut your biscuits in half. Pour the sawmill gravy on top. Enjoy your cowboy cooking masterpiece.