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Dutch Oven Cooking: A Simple Guide

January 31, 2021 5 min read

Dutch Oven Cooking

There is no doubt that few pots are quite like the humble Dutch oven; these sturdy pots are resilient, robust, and have that old-world charm and grace. Forged from cast-iron, these are pots that are made to last and withstand extreme heat. 

What sets a Dutch oven apart from other cookware?

Dutch ovens are one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in your kitchen when used correctly. Forget pressure cookers and instapots. There is no wonder that these cost-effective and durable pots are family favorites. Cast-iron cookware was designed to last for generations. 

Patented in 1925, Dutch ovens are not a new invention. They have been around for a little over a hundred years and show no sign of disappearing anytime soon. Dutch ovens have risen in popularity over the last few years because, unlike most conventional pots, they can be used indoors on a stovetop, in the oven, and outdoors on an open fire. 

What makes cooking in a Dutch oven better? 

Cooking food in a cast-iron Dutch oven is a little different from an ordinary stainless steel pot.

  • Cast-iron evenly spreads heat across the pot’s base and walls to ensure the food is cooked evenly and thoroughly. 
  • When used correctly and with a caulked lid, a Dutch oven can be used for recipes that require a pressure cooker.
  • It is easy to braise, boil, fry, roast, or even bake when cooking with a Dutch oven.
  • Bachelors and minimalists opt for Dutch ovens as they can move from stovetop to inside the oven with ease.
  • You don’t have to worry about decanting your cottage pie into a baking dish; top the filling with mash and put it straight in the oven.
  • Finishing touches are what make the world a prettier place. Most modern Dutch ovens are enamel-coated and pre-seasoned, meaning that food will not stick to the inside of the pots. Many come with an exterior enamel coating - they are not just functional; they are aesthetically pleasing! 

Choosing the right Dutch oven 

As with most things, Dutch ovens come in different shapes and sizes. The two most common shapes are:

  • Oval - These are ideal for bread and larger elongated cuts of meat. Oval Dutch ovens are not an excellent choice for cooking meals on a stovetop as they cannot distribute heat evenly due to their shape.  
  • Round - By far, the most popular of the two shapes. These are perfect for stovetop and inside the oven cooking. These pots can distribute heat evenly from the center on a stove. Round Dutch ovens are ideal for roasts that include vegetables. 

When it comes to variety in size, there is a Dutch oven for everyone: 

  • 3-4 Quart Dutch ovens - These are perfect for 1-person meals. They are ideal for people that live alone and don’t cater to many dinner parties. 
  • 5-7 Quart Dutch ovens are the most popular as they easily fit a whole chicken and some vegetables when cooking. Ideal for larger meats and braising short ribs. These are a perfect size, so you never have to ask yourself what to cook in a Dutch oven. The recipe ideas are endless. 
  • 7 - 13 Quart Dutch ovens - These are for larger families of 6 or more people. Unless your family is large or you need to cater to large crowds, these cast-iron beauties are a little over the top for most homes. 

Most cast-iron Dutch oven recipes call for a 6-quart Dutch oven. This is sufficient enough to roast an entire meal and still have leftovers.

To downsize or upsize a meal, you might need to make minor adjustments to the recipe if you are using a different kind. 

Easy Dutch oven recipes for any occasion

If you have ever considered what to make in a Dutch oven, it is easy to find thousands of recipe ideas on google or recipe books. Dutch ovens are ideal for preparing any soup, casserole, roast, braised meats, and vegetables. 

Try these easy cast iron pot recipes:

Braised meats 

The simpler the recipe, the better; and with a Dutch oven simplifying a recipe is a piece of cake.

  • Sear your meat inside the Dutch oven on the stove.
  • When you are ready to oven braise, transfer the entire Dutch oven to inside your oven for tender, flavorful meats. 

A lot of delicious sauce is left over inside the pot after searing; this braising method helps you save even more flavor in every bite.

Try this braised beef with red wine and mushrooms recipe! 

Pot roasts 

One-pot roasts are all the rage with fewer dishes and a whole lot more flavor. These recipes are easy, effortless, and only require minimal attention to produce excellent results: sear and brown your roast on all sides inside the Dutch oven. 

  • Pour in the stock, wine, spices, and water to cover.
  • Roast for 2 hours in the oven.
  • Add your root and starchy vegetables and an onion or two.
  • Cook the roast with the vegetables for an hour longer and serve once the gravy has thickened. 

Try this one-pot roast chicken recipe this Sunday. 

Stocks and broths 

Stock is all about adding flavor to a meal. Dutch ovens make it easy to get the most out of every meal:

  • Leave your leftover meaty bones and chicken carcasses with vegetable scraps in the pot, and add water.
  • Once the mixture has been brought to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for an hour. 
  • Strain the liquid out and allow it to cool completely.
  • Pour your stock into clean ice trays, and freeze.
  • Pop the stock cubes into a ziplock bag for storing, and use these perfect blocks of deliciousness in recipes that call for stock or broth.
  • Try putting a broth cube into rice to add extra flavor when cooking. 

Pot bread 

This easy bread takes 5 minutes to prep and four ingredients.

  • Mix 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 tbsp active dry yeast, and 1.5 tsp sea salt together in a bowl.
  • Add 1.5 cups warm water to the mixture.
  • Mix until a stiff dough ball forms.
  • Cover the bowl with cooking-spray-coated plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest for 24 hours at room temperature.
  • Once risen, preheat a Dutch oven.
  • Once heated, spray the Dutch oven with cooking spray and gently place the floppy dough inside.
  • Close the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes uncovered. Allow the loaf to cool before slicing.

Soups, Stews 

Once you have figured out the basics of a Dutch oven, you’ll know that soups and stews are both excellent options!

One pot to fry, boil, and make a soup in. It is no wonder that these pots are the best choice for French onion soups! 

We are cooking from the heart! 

Dutch oven meals are often comforting food. The kind you eat on wintery nights when it’s dark and snowy.

Comforting summer roasts are perfect for sweltering evenings where cooking shouldn’t require too much thought or effort.

Dutch ovens suit any home chef’s needs, from minimalism to cookware collectors.


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