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Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

Dutch Oven - An Essential Tool for Every Kitchen

Whether you're a brand new aspiring chef or a seasoned pro in the kitchen, a Dutch oven is a versatile kitchen essential. These deep, heavy, lidded pots can do so much, from rich slow-cooked stews to soups and braised meats. You can even bake bread in this must-have kitchen tool!

Traditional Dutch ovens are made with cast iron. Cast iron Dutch ovens have been used for centuries because they are durable and have exceptional heat retention and distribution properties. Although some current manufacturers use other materials like ceramic and aluminum, cast iron Dutch ovens are by far the most popular. They are simple, practical, highly durable, and easy to care for

Why is it called a Dutch oven?

It's not clear where the term "Dutch oven" originated from. There are rumors that it came from Dutch people who settled in the United States in Pennsylvania who used this type of pot. Another well-known theory is that it comes from a process of casting iron pots in sand molds that the Dutch were known for.

No matter how the term was coined, the original Dutch ovens were shaped quite differently from what we're used to in our kitchens these days. They had legs!

The legs were to keep them up over the coals of a fire. An old-style Dutch oven with legs also generally had a flat lid so that you could pile hot coals on top. This type of cast iron Dutch oven is still around, but there are more options now.

What makes a Dutch oven special?

Anyone who has used coated cast-iron cookware like Dutch oven pots will tell you that this type of cookware will quickly become a go-to kitchen piece. This versatile pot makes mealtimes so much simpler; it is easy to use and care for, and it gives you endless mealtime options!

If you haven't experienced this type of kitchenware, you may be wondering what you can cook with a cast iron Dutch oven. You can cook just about anything with this nifty kitchen tool!

The most common use for this cookware is any type of cooking that requires moist heat, like stewing and braising. But this is by far not all you can do with it. Whether you feel like a spicy slow-cooked curry on a cold day or want to roast some beef to slice up for a summer picnic, a Dutch oven will do the trick.

Is a Dutch oven stovetop-friendly or more suited to the oven? Cast iron Dutch ovens are perfectly suited for BOTH! You can sauté, braise, boil, simmer, or fry food on any stovetop. But you can also pop it inside the oven to bake, broil, grill, or roast your food.

Perfect for nutritional cooking

Dutch ovens retain high levels of heat exceptionally well, which makes them ideal for slow-cooked meals. Your vegetables will retain flavor and nutrients, and you will tenderize your meats to perfection. This method of cooking is effective with even the toughest cuts!

The shape, size, and how the ovens are constructed make them perfect for hearty winter soups, nourishing stews, and other long-simmering meals. Need to whip up some beans for your burritos or boil chickpeas for hummus from scratch? A Dutch oven is just what you need!

Baking up a storm

The heat retention in a Dutch oven makes it a perfect vessel for delicious home-baked goodies. It works similarly to the stone hearth typically used in a pizza or bread oven, while the lid keeps the moisture and steam trapped to create a crunchy, crispy crust.

From freshly baked artisan-style loaves of bread to rich and creamy baked pasta dishes, and even baked potatoes, this oven makes cooking a breeze.

Slowly roasted to perfection

Inside an oven, cast iron Dutch ovens absorb heat from all directions and uniformly transfers it to the food. This means you will need less energy for slow cooking. A Cast iron Dutch oven lid is generally oven-proof and fit snugly. This helps lock in the moisture and prevents the food from drying out, even with long cooking times.

Fried chicken, anyone?

Although this is not an incredibly healthy cooking method, some foods are simply delicious when they're deep-fried. Again, the star feature of the cast iron Dutch oven is its ability to conduct heat. This feature makes it an excellent tool for deep frying; it heats the oil evenly and allows the chef to easily control the temperatur

Make your mid-week casseroles magical

You can quickly move your Dutch oven from the stovetop to the inside of the oven, and this makes it the ideal cookware for casseroles. Brown your meat on top of the stove, then assemble the other ingredients and move it to the oven. It will make your life easier and mean you have less washing up to do later!

Built to last

If this is not enough to convince you that getting a Dutch oven is a great idea, the fact that they are built to last is yet another excellent reason to buy one of these multi-purpose pots. Cast iron Dutch ovens are so durable that you will even be able to pass them down generations. Think about how much you could save when you don’t need to constantly update your cookware!

Making life simpler and better

Hassle-free cooking is one of the biggest benefits of Dutch ovens. Braising or stewing food is a breeze in a cast iron Dutch oven! Both of those cooking methods will allow you to walk away from the cooking process for an hour or 2 (or even 3!) at a time with peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about burning the food if you are busy!

This is how you braise or stew food with a Dutch oven:

  • Coat the meat in seasoned flour and sear on all sides until you achieve an attractive deep golden brown color.
  • Place in the oven along with some roughly chopped vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes.
  • Season and add spices and herbs according to taste.
  • Add liquid like stock or wine, or a mix of it. For braising, make sure the liquid covers around half the ingredients, and for stewing, it should just cover the meat.
  • Heat the mix until it boils, and then turn it down to simmer gently.
  • Cover and leave on low heat on the stovetop, or place in the oven at around 250°F
  • Cook for around 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the cut of the meat. When it's cooked, the meat should be tender and shred easily.
  • Allow the food to cool down in the liquid.

Can't I just keep using regular pots?

Of course, you can, but once you use a Dutch oven, you'll quickly realize that there is no competition when it comes to a Dutch oven vs. pot. The Dutch oven can do everything a pot can, plus so much more! Some of the benefits of Dutch ovens are:

  • They are a lot more versatile than pots. You can use them for cooking and baking a vast variety of dishes.
  • It's almost impossible to burn food when you use a Dutch oven because the bottoms are thick, dense, and conductive.
  • They are durable and usually last several years.
  • Because they are generally larger than pots, Dutch ovens are great for entertaining.
  • These pots are perfect for people who regularly cook tough cuts of meat. Tenderizing even the toughest cuts is a breeze!
  • Non-enameled Dutch ovens are heat resistant, which makes them great for camping!
  • Excellent for dishes that need to be cooked on the stovetop and then moved to the oven for additional cooking.
  • Brilliant for slow-cooked foods because of even heat distribution and retention.
  • The moisture is sealed inside, which means the food cooked is more nutrient-dense.
  • The non-stick surface of the pot means you'll need less oil.

Are you ready to buy?

Dutch oven shopping can be daunting! There are so many brands out there, various and different types of ovens. But, when it comes to buying the best Dutch oven, or when you have to choose the best size Dutch oven for you, it's essential to consider a few factors, for example:

Material

Dutch ovens made of cast-iron are heavy-duty, durable, and have excellent heat retention and distribution properties. This makes it the perfect material for this type of pot. However, Dutch ovens are also available in stainless steel and anodized aluminum.

Weight

The pot should be heavy and have a thick, heavy, and solid base. This robust construction reduces the likelihood of hot spots. This stops the food at the bottom of the pot from burning, even if you leave it for hours on the stovetop or inside of the oven.

Price

Dutch oven prices come in at a wide range. Enameled cast-iron is more expensive than cast-iron only cookware as well as most aluminum and stainless-steel models.

Handles

If the handles are designed to be part of the pot, they must be sturdy and firmly attached. Watch out for handles that are not oven-proof or made of plastic; this could pose a safety hazard.

Cast-iron is simply superior

The best material to make Dutch ovens with is clearly cast-iron. If you've decided that this is the way to go, and are wondering which is the best cast-iron Dutch oven, here are the main three types of Dutch ovens made of cast-iron available in the market:

Camping Dutch oven

If you like the idea of the old-fashioned Dutch oven design, and you love cooking in the great outdoors, a cast-iron camping oven is for you. It is designed with cooking over cozy campfires in mind. Perfect for trips where you prepare meals while you enjoy the fresh air and starry nights. Camping Dutch ovens generally have legs, so they're not suitable to be used on stovetops. If you want something similar to be used indoors and outdoors, consider a standard Dutch oven or double Dutch.

Cast iron enameled Dutch oven

This type of oven-proof pot has a flat bottom and tight-fitting lids that may be flat or domed. Because of the enamel coating, it is suitable for indoor use only. However, you can use most enameled ovens on a range of cooking surfaces such as gas, induction, ceramic, and electric. You can also use these pots inside the oven.

The attractive enamel coating makes this type of Dutch oven more expensive than purely cast-iron pots, but this coating is well worth the extra cost if you are looking to save some time and hassle when it comes to upkeep. The protective coating will protect your Dutch oven pot from rust which means you will never need to worry about seasoning it.

Cast-iron double Dutch oven

If you're wondering, "What size Dutch oven should I buy?" and you're leaning more towards a larger pot, this type of Dutch oven could be exactly what you need. They are often large enough to cook meals for many and are suitable for indoor stovetops, ovens, or even an outdoor campfire.

You can use the lid as a skillet, and its large capacity makes this an ideal cast-iron stock pot. It is not coated, so this pot is perfect for open campfires.

And the best Dutch ovens are...

It's worth reading reviews to see what the top-rated Dutch oven is and to see what people with experience say about these pots. Cast iron Dutch oven reviews can be very helpful when trying to decide what type of post would work best for you and your needs. Some prefer an extra-large Dutch oven, and others would rather have a small cast-iron Dutch oven depending on who they need to cook for and where they like to use them.

Whether you are looking for a small Dutch oven to whip up family meals, a sturdy pot for campfire cooking, or an enameled Dutch oven to show off to dinner guests, you can get a quality oven for a reasonable price.

The best Dutch oven is the one that suits your cooking requirements and budget. But don't be afraid to spend a bit more. These pots are excellent investments! With basic maintenance, they will stand the test of time. You may even be able to pass it on to the next generation!

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