I saved this information from Mike and Lori Sanders' postings about Dutch Ovens. (They are the gurus of DO!) Enjoy!
Using Charcoal with a Dutch Oven:
To use Dutch Oven like a kettle- (most of heat on bottom)
Good for stews, soups
To use Dutch Oven like an oven- (some heat on bottom, more heat on top)
Good for bread, biscuits, casseroles, cobblers, roasts, meats
To use Dutch Oven like an OVEN- (1/4 heat on bottom, 3/4 heat on top)
Good for cakes, pies, egg dishes, casseroles
Numbers of Charcoal for 350° Heat based on size of Dutch Oven:
10" dutch oven = 20 coals= 5 on the bottom, 15 in ring on top
12" dutch oven = 24 coals= 6 on the bottom, 18 in ring on top
12" deep dutch oven = 26 coals= 6 on the bottom, 21 in ring on top
14" dutch oven = 28 coals= 7 on the bottom, 21 in ring on top
To increase Dutch Oven heat approx. 25°; Add 3 coals= 1 on the bottom, 2 on top
Hints to Help Control Heat Sources:
1. If you take the lid off your oven and the contents are boiling so heavily you cannot see the food, your fire is too hot. Remove a few coals.
2. If you take the lid off and the contents are not boiling after being on the fire for twenty minutes, your fire is too cold. Add more coals.
3. If half your meat, rolls, cobbler, etc. is browning faster than the other, you have a hot spot. Rotate the oven one-quarter turn to the left and rotate the lid one-quarter turn to the right every 5 to 10 minutes until the dish is cooked.
4. HEAT RISES! Some foods such as chicken and potatoes can be cooked with only bottom heat. Cakes, breads, and anything "baked" needs to have bottom and top heat. In the case of baked foods, remember to put more heat on the lid of your oven than under it. This helps force the heat down and cook the food more evenly.
5. When cooking under windy conditions, be aware that the wind "fans" one side of the coals, causing them to burn faster and hotter on one side. Set up a windbreak and be sure to rotate the oven as described above.
6.. When baking in a cast-iron Dutch oven, place most of the coals on the lid around the outside edge. The cast-iron conducts heat very well so you will get uniform browning. If you place too many coals in the middle of the lid you could get hot spots.
7.. Cast-aluminum Dutch ovens heat up and cool down fast. They require a closer watch on food so you do not get scorched foods. The cast-iron ovens are more forgiving. They are slower to heat up, slower to cool and the heat is more evenly distributed. Food cooked in a cast-iron Dutch oven does not need to be checked as frequently as food cooked in a cast-aluminum Dutch oven. I mention the cooking qualities of these ovens in this chapter only to help you understand how closely you need to watch your heat source to guard against hot spots.