Friday, January 25, 2013

Dutson Dinner (Camping food at home)

Need a quick weeknight dinner? This couldn't be easier and always satisfies. It's actually a common camping dish, that you can put in a dutch oven near the fire and let it cook while you're away fishing, hiking, what have you. We actually don't get to go camping very often, but we enjoy this meal at least once a month.
   I was introduced to this dish when we were camping with some dear friends of ours, the Dutsons. We took our families and went camping for a few days at a beautiful place by a lake (water reservoir actually). It was beautiful and fun; and my family and I think of that time often. It was one of the best times I've had outdoors and this dish helps me re-live a small part of it whenever I want.
   How this particular version came about is that my dear friend Lindsey was suffering from a case of early pregnancy brain and she forgot to pack the ground beef for the dinner. She ended up using breakfast sausage instead and it turned out great. It's actually our preferred way of making it now. :) Don't you love happy accidents?
   So, any time that I need a meal that is quick to prepare, cheap and really satisfies (and also brings up wonderful memories) I make this. It doesn't really have a name, but it's called The Dutson Dinner around our house. :)

Here's how it starts at home:

1 lb of ground breakfast sausage goes into a pot. I break it up and cook it until it's brown.

Then I chunk up some potatoes. You can make the pieces as big as you like. The bigger the pieces are, the longer it takes to cook, so if you need it done quickly you'll want to chop your potatoes finer. I usually have Russet potatoes on hand, so that is what I used. A waxier potato (like a gold or red) will take longer to cook as well. Just some things to keep in mind.

Next come the other veggies. Celery, carrots (and onions if you'd like). I do equal amounts of each.

Just wash and dry them, then chop them up as big as you'd like.

Add them to the pot with sausage and potatoes.

Salt and pepper. (to taste)

Then I add in some granulated garlic. (about 1 1/2 tsp)

And the same amount of onion powder (You can skip this if you added onion earlier.)

Then comes the magic sauce that brings it all together. Cream of Mushroom Soup. Sure, you could: cook some finely chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic, make a roux, add some milk-or cream-, stock (chicken or veggie) salt and pepper and wait for it to thicken and then add that to the pot, but then this wouldn't be a quick one pot meal anymore. If you have qualms about using condensed soup out of a can then by all means cook the "cream of soup" from scratch and use that. Me . . . I'll take the short cut. :)

Mix everything together,

and put the lid on. Cook it over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

When it is done it will look like this:

I agree, it's not going to win any awards in the beauty department, but this meal isn't about looks.

It's about being able to eat well for little money, time and ingredients. It really is delicious!
Here's the recipe:
(This is all to taste. If you like more or less of an ingredient please feel free to change it up. This recipe also lends well to substitutions. Have fun and create a meal that you would enjoy!)

The Dutson Dinner

1 lb ground meat (we prefer pork breakfast sausage)
3 small to medium Russet potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces 
3 medium carrots, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
3 ribs of celery, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp granulated onion
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
1 10 3/4 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup

In a large pot, brown the meat over medium heat until cooked through. (If using a lean meat like turkey you will need to add 1-2 Tbsp of oil to the pan first to prevent the meat from sticking.) Add the remaining ingredients: veggies, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and the soup. Stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook over medium low for 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Serve hot.

Update 6/22/13: Made this for dinner tonight, but in the crock-pot. I put all the meat and veggies into the crock-pot (lined, for easy clean up) - I made it a little different by adding the kernels off of one ear of corn, salt, pepper, one small onion, diced and 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic to the 4 small russet potatoes, 3 medium carrots and 3 ribs of celery. I cut the veggies a little bigger, so they didn't turn to mush in the crock-pot.
 I added the cream of mushroom soup on top (any creamed soup would work)
 and gave it a really good stir (making sure to break up the sausage well)
 I set the crock-pot to low and let it cook for 2 hours. After the twp hours most everything was cooked but the potatoes. So, I set it to high and cooked it for another 1 1/2 hours. (I started the crockpot in the afternoon and needed everything done by dinner time, so that is why I rushed things along. It would have been fine to leave on low for another 3 hours or so.)
When the potatoes were done I scooped it up and served it hot. Another tasty version!


  1. I loved this! It is definitely filling so make sure you are hungry. My husband said he felt like a bear afterwards ready for hibernation, but he still loved it. As for me in my current pregnant state, I felt completely satisfied. I totally understand why this is a camping recipe, because after a busy hiking day this would be perfect! I love that all these ingredients are so interchangeable, and they are items that you normally have around the house so you don't have to make a trip to the store. We used ground beef because we didn't have any sausage. Also, I added onions instead of the onion powder so there were even more veggies. I am not a mushroom lover so I substituted in cream of chicken. Even with all the alterations, everything turned out delish. Thanks Shammah!

  2. Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. And I also love how this recipe works well with many different variations. Thanks for commenting!! :)

  3. I am thinking of making this in the crockpot. Would I still brown the ground beef or just throw everything in? How long do you think?

  4. You could throw everything in the crock-pot, it would be more like cooking it in a dutch oven that way. The veggies should be cut into larger chunks because they will be cooking for a longer time. I would check on it after 2 hours on high (4 on low) and give everything a good stir. Is it boiling? If it is, then check the veggies for done-ness (stick them with a fork). If they are tender, and the meat is cooked through, I wouldn't let it cook much longer Maybe 6 hours on low and 3-4 hours on high is as far as I would let it go. The longer you cook it, the more mushy the veggies will get. Let me know how it goes! Thanks for the questions. :)Don't forget to spray your crock-pot with non-stick cooking spray, or use a crock-pot liner because potatoes like to stick! Good luck. :)

    1. In case you missed the update above: I tried it in the crock-pot and it turned out great! I would suggest cooking it on low for 5-6 hours and on high for 3 hours. The veggies get pretty mushy after that. :D

  5. Trying to get my three-year-old to get more veggies in her system I used the food processor to make them little pieces. Still tasted great, and she did not even know she was eating healthy foods! =) I should note I did keep the potatoes in chunks though - I guess they are veggies.

  6. I'm glad she ate her veggies! :) Hopefully soon she'll want to eat them when she sees them (and you won't have to hide them anymore). The things we do as moms. :)

  7. Hey Shammah! I was searching your blog today (to find your kale soup recipe) and I came across this one! I admire all your recipes and beautiful pictures.. But this one was extra special to me :) thanks for sharing! We sure miss you guys!

    1. Aww, thanks! I hope you found the soup recipe. My "search" doesn't always work like it's supposed to. This recipe always brings back fond memories. We miss you guys too!!