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I am going camping shortly. I have done some dutch oven cooking before, and there is one recipe that I want to make that uses one. However, I do not have a dutch oven...

I am thinking of using two aluminum pans (the cheap foil ones) and aluminum on the top (several layers) to make a sort of dutch oven alternative.

Has anyone tried that? Does it work?

I am also thinking of putting some sand or water between the two pans to make it hold and transfer the heat a little more evenly. Anyone know if this will work?

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I don't have an alternative, but I definitely wouldn't recommend using aluminum pans. Aluminum has a relatively low melting temperature and even though it'll survive a 350° oven, it probably would not survive an open flame. –  Aaronut Aug 27 '10 at 17:08
    
ooh, I had not thought of that. Hmm. Maybe I will just have to get a dutch oven. I also thought of using a steel cake pan, with a cookie sheet lid, but the foil pans were 50 cents each. A cake pan and cookie sheet was 5 dollars. The cheapest dutch oven was $39... –  Ruz Aug 27 '10 at 17:28
    
What is the recipe you want to make? –  JustRightMenus Aug 27 '10 at 17:32
    
It is a peach cobbler: peaches with cake mix and butter on top, closed up and set on the coals for about 40 minutes... –  Ruz Aug 27 '10 at 17:40
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The melting point of aluminum is 1220 degree F (660 C). If you melt aluminum on a cooking fire you have bigger problems than what happens to your pot. Indeed, they sell (or used to sell) aluminum dutch ovens for backpacking. Not that I'd have carried one as they still weigh a lot. And I knew some folks who cracked their in half while trying to burn out something cook onto the inside. Thermal stress I guess. –  dmckee Aug 27 '10 at 20:12
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

While you can easily melt a foil pan over a hot campfire, yours will be filled with juicy peaches - so assuming you don't over-cook it, you should be safe. 40 minutes directly on the coals might be pushing it though - consider using a gridiron to control the heat by elevating the pan slightly, and stick around to keep an eye on things... Remember, dutch ovens are thick, heavy, and slow to transmit heat, and the recipes reflect this.

I would avoid doubling either the pan or the foil: you'll end up with an air gap between the two layers, which will likely just end up ruining the outer pan. Pay a little extra for the thicker "heavy-duty" foil and you should be fine.

Wet sand between two pans is an interesting idea... If you try it, report back!

My biggest worry here would be burning the peaches before they have a chance to release their juices (no slow warm-up with aluminum - you'll essentially be frying them). If you can elevate the pan, you should be fine; otherwise, consider macerating them first (if you have very ripe, juicy peaches, count your blessings and ignore this suggestion).

Finally, consider that Harbor Freight sells cast-iron dutch ovens for $25. The quality isn't stellar, and it's extra weight to lug around, but you'll probably end up with better food all the same.

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I ended up calling around until I could find a dutch oven from a friend. I may still try this someday. Or, if anyone else does let me know how it works. –  Ruz Aug 31 '10 at 1:40
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