Why do I need a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are prized cooking vessels by chefs, home cooks and camping enthusiasts. Traditionally they are made by casting iron in sand molds. Some manufacturers produce heavy-duty aluminum cookware with a flat bottom, tight fitting lid and deep sides and call them Dutch Ovens.
Versatile cookware, Dutch ovens are ideal for long braises, boiling, frying, roasting and even baking. The cast iron creates an ideal material known for uniform heat distribution, heat retention, and durability.
Dutch ovens-care, seasoning, why to use, after the jump
Models with a flanged top are favored for outdoor cooking over coals; the coals from the fire can be loaded on top of the lid, allowing heat distribution from both under and over the pot, creating an oven effect.
In the kitchen, a Dutch oven can be used stove- top to start a braise, brown meat and poultry, then placed in the oven to finish the cooking. Bread bakers use Dutch Ovens to create crusty boules using no knead dough.
Dutch ovens are made in a variety of sizes, styles and pricing. Special shapes include a mussel pot, for preparing and serving mussels, and minis for individual servings of soups, casseroles and desserts. The American-made Lodge, the French Le Creuset and Staub all make quality products. Prices range from $35 to $350. Features you want: cast iron, tight fitting lid, handles and knobs that are removable or oven proof, made in USA or Europe.
Staub introduced self -braising spikes on the inside of the lid, a feature we recommend.
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A good size for the family cook is 6 or 8 quart. An oval shape is ideal for roasts and poultry. The round shape is practical for chili, soups, stews, and meats on the bone (short ribs, veal shanks). For stovetop to oven cooking, a Dutch oven should have handles and knobs that are oven friendly.
Black cast iron needs to be seasoned before use. To season: Wash in hot soapy water, dry thoroughly. Rub with solid vegetable oil (Crisco) or lard. Place in a 250 F oven for 2-3 hours. Remove and cool. Seasoning seals the pores in the metal. Skip the process for enamel coated (almost a non-stick surface) and pre-seasoned Dutch ovens. Avoid washing a Dutch oven in the dishwasher.
Do you need one? Coq au Vin, French Onion Soup, Braised Short Ribs, Baked Beans, Beef Bourguignon, Chili, Yankee Pot Roast, Gumbo, Pho, Biscuits, Cobbler? Stove top to oven to table. This pot cooks and serves, go for it!