I (B) picked up a book of southern Appalachian cookin' in North Carolina. It has a reference to cast iron cooking and an old fashioned way to roast potatoes. What could be simpler?
Scrub the baking potatoes. Quarter them, lengthwise. Place potatoes in the bottom of a cast iron dutch oven. Season them with salt and pepper. Lay strips of fatback or bacon on them. Cover with lid. Place hot coals underneath the dutch oven and on the lid. You are aiming for about 400 degrees, so for our 12 inch diameter dutch oven, I used 19 coals on top and 10 underneath. Replace the coals as they burn down, as needed. Rotate the lid and the oven about a quarter of a turn in opposite directions, about every 20 minutes, for even heating.
This pot has been removed from the bottom coals and the top ones are burned down. The "sword" on top is a lid lifter.
This picture shows 2 of the 3 legs that allow coals to be placed under it for the bottom heating element.
Taters are done when they are soft and light brown. The bacon will be crispy. Halfway through, you know you've got something good when you lift that lid and smell that bacon and taters.
I made these for our July Fourth cookout. Heat up the dutch oven and not the kitchen. We served them with grilled hamburgers---make that, BACON burgers!and baked beans.
For variety, use seasoned salt instead of plain salt. You might experiment with adding rosemary or dill.
I have been working with a dutch oven for several years now. I have used it to make biscuits from scratch, cinnamon rolls, cornbread, cobblers, fried bacon and stews. Using the inside of the lid, I've made quesodillas, pancakes, and fried eggs. Legend has it that there were three things that Lewis and Clarke brought back that they started out with on their journey: their journals, their guns and their dutch ovens. That's a pretty good testimony to their value and versatility.