SANDY — The 2011 International Dutch Oven Society's World Championship Cook-Off dispelled the myth that Dutch oven cooking consists of stew and cobbler.

Consider the grand prize winning dishes made by Alan and Vanessa Johnson of Heyburn, Idaho, during the event at the International Sportsman's Expo last weekend. A pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach, ham and Swiss cheese, and then stuffed inside of a beef prime rib; rolls stuffed with Cajun-flavored crab; and a "Scrump-U-licious" chocolate cake studded with made-from scratch toffee wowed the judges to take the $2,500 prize money.

Keep in mind, all these dishes were cooked in Dutch ovens, with only burning charcoal as a heat source.

"Every year, the bar is raised," said David Bench, chef of the Lion House, who served as a judge. "Some of the dishes are as good as you will find in a restaurant — a good restaurant."

Of the unusual Beef-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Alan Johnson explained, "It was our spin on the turducken," he said. (Turducken is a duck stuffed in a chicken, which is stuffed in a turkey.)

The couple has been competing in Dutch oven cook-offs for four years. When asked what they will do with their prize money, Alan quipped, "Go buy some more Dutch ovens."

This year's competition attracted cooks from Australia, Canada, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona, Washington, Iowa, Idaho and Utah. Each team prepared three dishes: a dessert, a bread and a main dish, all in Dutch ovens using only burning coals for heat.

For a berth at the competition, 22 teams had to win an IDOS-sanctioned cook-off during the past year. The field was narrowed to 11 teams during the semifinals last Thursday and Friday. Brian and Lisa Blodgett, last year's grand champions, had an automatic spot in the finals.

Teams pulled out all the stops, with main dishes such as Beef Wellington, Halibut Empanadas with Crab and Shrimp Filling, Cranberry-Rice Stuffed Cornish Hens. There were beautiful tarts, cakes and rolls that could have come from a professional bakery.

David Grover and Jamie Boyle intrigued bystanders by using liquid nitrogen to quickly chill their Venetian Chocolate Cheesecake during the semifinals and repeated the process with their Mocha Mascarpone Cream Cake during the finals.

"It's minus 329 degrees, so your skin will freeze, and it can cause frostbite, so you have to wear heavy rubber gloves and a face shield," said Grover. "I wanted to do it because it hadn't been done before with Dutch ovens. And when you're doing a cheesecake on a time constraint, it usually ends up warm and runny because there's not enough time to chill it. We dropped the temperature so that it was almost frozen, then we reversed the temperature by setting hot caramel on it."

Their efforts helped them take third place in the competition.

To the casual observer, the Dutch oven cooks make it look pretty easy. But regulating the heat is one of the biggest challenges, said Gaye Ann Grace. She and her cooking partner, Terry Cobb, traveled from Oklahoma. They took second place with their Bacon Braided Stuffed Turkey Breast, Super Stuffed Stromboli and Mountain Berry Apple Pie.

Grace advises novices, "Take your favorite recipe, and try cooking with it in the Dutch oven. That's a good way to start learning."

The Ward family had three generations competing in the finals. It was the sixth time for Wil and Jen Ward of Stockton, Tooele County. Wil's mother, Winonia Ward, competed in her first final with Carol Hokanson as her cooking partner. It was also a first final for Wil and Jen's son Chad Ward, 17. His partner was Wil's sister Aimee Kagabo.

"It's a family tradition, and I like it," said Chad, a high school senior who plays wide receiver on Tooele High's football team. "You're with family, and you're cooking with the best cooks in the world."

He borrowed two of his parents' recipes, "and the rest of them we made up ourselves." Wil said his mom who got everyone started cooking in Dutch oven cooking over 20 years ago.

"We started doing ward dinners, and Will helped me in the process," Winonia said. "But I had never done a competition. It's been a fun experience."

Especially when she and Hokanson took fourth place, and Wil and Jen took fifth place.

"We get a kick out of cooking, and if they place higher than me, good on them," said Wil. "The idea is to come in here and enjoy it."

Although Saffron Hodgson of Australia didn't make it to the finals, she was happy that her meat dish took second place in the semifinals. On Friday, she demonstrated some traditional Australian outdoor cooking techniques. Her family currently lives in Washington State due to her husband's job. She also cooks in barbecue competitions.

"I found that Dutch oven cooking was a good way to find other people interested in social outdoor cooking," she said. "I think it's important when you travel to another country to get involved in something that's important to the culture, and Dutch oven cooking is one of those things."

All the recipes from the finals and semifinals in the 2011 World Championship Cook-Off cookbook, available online at IDOS.com, for a total of $18.50. Those who want to learn more about Dutch oven cooking can attend the International Dutch Oven Society's annual spring convention April 8 and 9 at the Davis County Fairgrounds, 151 South 1100 West, Farmington. Friday evening is a DOG (Dutch Oven Gathering) with everyone bringing a pot luck dish to share. Free workshops, classes, demonstrations and vendor booths take place Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with the annual membership meeting beginning at 4 p.m.

BEEF-WRAPPED PORK TENDERLOIN

1 2-3 pound pork tenderloin

1/2 teaspoon celery salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

4-6 slices Swiss cheese

4 cups fresh spinach

2-4 slices deli ham

6-8 1/4-inch thick slices of beef prime rib

Cut a lengthwise slit down the center of the pork tenderloin to within 1/2 inch of bottom. Open tenderloin so it lies flat. On each half, make another lengthwise slit down the center to within 1/2 inch of bottom, and open up these slits so they lie flat as well. Cover with plastic wrap. With a meat mallet, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon celery salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Layer with cheese, spinach and ham. Press down gently.

Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Wrap the loin with the prime rib, that has been sliced to 1/4-inch thick; then tie with butcher's string. Sprinkle with remaining celery salt, garlic powder and pepper. Sear the outside to a nice caramel color in a 12-inch Dutch oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes, with 12 coals on top lid and 10 on bottom, or until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees. Transfer the meat to lid for display, and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

— Alan and Vanessa Johnson, 2011 IDOS World Champions

CAJUN CRABBY ROLLS

Bread:

1 package dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

1 1/3 cups warm water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

Filling:

1 package cream cheese

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon blackening seasoning

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Creole mustard

1/2 pound cooked crab meat

To make the bread: Put yeast, sugar and dry milk in a large bowl. Add water and stir to mix well. Allow mixture to sit a few minutes, then add oil and stir again. Add salt and flour and stir until dough forms and flour is absorbed. Turn out on a lightly floured, flat surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; cover and let rise until doubled.

To make filling: Mix together filling ingredients. Place filling in cooler until needed.

To assemble: Roll dough into a flat rectangle. Spread filling mixture evenly and roll cinnamon-roll style. Cut into rolls and place in a Dutch oven to rise until doubled. Bake 35-40 minutes with 10 coals on bottom and 12 coals on top lid.

— Alan and Vanessa Johnson, 2011 IDOS World Champions

SCRUMP-U-LICIOUS CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake:

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup hot water

Frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 package cream cheese

4 ounces Mascarpone cheese

9 ounces white baking chocolate, melted and cooled

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dulce de leche, divided use

English Toffee:

7 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cold water

1/4 cup dark Karo syrup

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dash of salt

To make cake: Mix cake ingredients together and divide evenly between to 10-inch Dutch ovens. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Use 8 coals on bottom and 10 coals on top.

To make frosting: In a large bowl, beat heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form, and set aside. In another large bowl, beat cheeses until light and fluffy. Beat in the chocolate, confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Slightly fold in 1/4 cup dulce de leche and then fold in heavy whipping cream. Place in cooler until cake is cooled and ready to be frosted.

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To make toffee: Put butter, sugar, salt, Karo syrup and water in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Stir until the mixture reaches a very brittle stage (300-310 degrees). Remove from heat and add nuts to mixture. Add vanilla and pour onto a buttered cookie sheet. Let cool, then break and/or chop into tiny chunks.

To assemble: After cake is cooled, cut into 2 equal-size layers. Frost between layers and sprinkle with toffee. Cover entire cake with topping. Use remaining toffee to cover outside edge. Use remaining 1/4 cup dulce de leche on top of cake. Place dollops of dulce de leche on the top of cake in random spots. Swirl with knife.

— Alan and Vanessa Johnson, 2011 IDOS World Champions

Email: vphillips@desnews.com

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