How to Use a Dutch Oven

Have you ever come across those big cooking pots made with cast iron and wondered how they are used for cooking? If yes, then you have come to the right place because today we will be learning how to use those big pots, popularly known as a Dutch oven. 

It may surprise you to know that Dutch ovens are very useful, maybe this is due to their versatility. The fact that this pot is made with cast iron means that it keeps food hot for a long since cast iron is a poor heat conductor. 

Benefits of Using Dutch Oven

1. Good for slow cooking – An advantage of the poor heat conductivity of a Dutch oven makes it the perfect choice for slow cooking with low temperature. 

2. Stews, braises, and soups – Using a Dutch oven for your stews, braises, and soups will give you a satisfactory meal. The reason for this is that these kinds of meals require long minutes of cooking and with low temp. This allows the varieties of ingredients to mix and make the meal flavorful. 

Also, this cooking method tenderizes tough eat cuts. Some best braising meats include pork shoulder, beef chuck, cartilage, and fat like spare ribs, oxtails, lamb shanks, and short ribs. 

The Dutch oven is also good at softening root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots. Hard greens like kale and collards are not exempted. With slow cooking, the flavor of garlic and onion is also brought out. 

How To Use A Dutch Oven on Stove Top

A crockpot is the closest thing to a Dutch oven but they are different in terms of their use. Unlike a crockpot, you can smoke your Dutch oven over a stovetop since it is made of cast iron. Your meat can also be browned directly inside. Other ingredients and liquid should be added then the pot covered and temp lowered. 

How to Use A Dutch Oven in a Conventional Oven

You can transfer your Dutch oven directly from the stovetop into a conventional oven. This step is more convenient when your meat is well browned over the high temp of the stovetop and needs a lower temperature for the next cooking phase. 

You may wonder why you should bother transferring to an oven when you can just lower the stove heat. The answer to this is that while lowering the stove heat can be done, and oven heat covers the pot on all sides rather than underneath. 

This all-around oven heat makes the ingredients evenly cooked and prevents the items from sticking to the pot’s bottom and burning. A common occurrence with stovetop braising. 

How To Take Care of A Dutch Oven

If you purchase a good Dutch oven made with cast iron, you can be assured of its durability. This type is the almost indestructible meaning you will only need one for a lifetime. With this said will be sensible to get a good one once and for all. You can find some good ones here.

Most times when people buy the aluminum Dutch oven it is for camping since they are much lighter but note that aluminum is a good heat conductor hence it may not be able to function as well as the cast iron Dutch oven described earlier. 

Dutch oven camping experience is a great one nonetheless whether aluminum or cast. These pots can be easily cleaned due to their enamel coating, although they may lose their color with time. But its discoloration does not mean it is no longer usable. It is just a sign of aging. Also avoid banging the pot lid as the enamel may chip, especially the ones coating the rim. 

What you need to know before using your New Dutch Oven

  • 1. Wash it thoroughly. Do not use that brand new Dutch oven without first washing in hot soapy water. You can also wash with a dishwasher although hand-washing is recommended.
  • 2. You can use your Dutch oven on all kinds of heat surfaces including electric or gas stovetop or even over a grill. But make sure to control the temperature when using it oven as a direct source of heat to avoid scorching it.
  • 3. Avoid high temperatures as much as possible. Dutch ovens are better used with low temperatures. High temp may cause the food to burn or stick to the bottom.
  • 4. Since cast iron is good at holding heat, you can leave your food in the pot until ready to serve without worry about it losing its warmth.
  • 5. However, note that this unique conductive property can work in both ways. It can also get cold especially when placed in a fridge or freezer. The oven will retain the cold just like it did the heat. You can maximize this function for storing salad, say, and other cold desserts.
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