Believe it or not, one of the most popular and versatile kitchen items, the Dutch oven, has been around since the 17th century.
And although there have been a few tweaks over that time, the basic cast iron Dutch oven is the same today as it was back then. There’s a good reason for that; the Dutch oven works!
Whether you want to slow cook a stew or use your Dutch oven more as a cast-iron skillet, you’ll appreciate how the thick metal absorbs heat and then radiates it consistently to the items being cooked.
It’s one of the most effective ways to get balanced heat throughout the dish being cooked.
Of course, there are many different recipes to consider cooking in a Dutch oven. The only way to find out which is your favourite is to try a variety of them!
But to help you get started, consider these 5 foods that are perfect for cooking in a Dutch oven.
Understanding Your Dutch Oven
The classic Dutch oven is a large pot, ideally made of cast iron, that can be used both on the stovetop or in the oven.
That cast iron is what allows the Dutch oven to retain heat and cook consistently, even if left on low heat.
Because the dish is oven-proof, it can be used as a sealed slow cooker, as an open saucepan, or even as a skillet or deep fryer.
That means you can cook almost anything in your Dutch oven, including:
Braising is one of the best ways to cook short ribs, and the Dutch oven makes that easy.
Start by browning the ribs, then add your braising liquid and seasonings.
After bringing the Dutch oven to the proper temperature on the stove, the ribs are covered and moved to the oven to slow cook for 2-3 hours.
Thanks to the bumps on the inside of the Dutch oven lid, steam is converted back to liquid to help create ribs that are fall-off-the-bone tender.
Macaroni and Cheese
Traditional macaroni and cheese can take a lot of work and use a lot of cookware, but the Dutch oven can help simplify the process!
Use the pot on your stovetop on a low heat to make the béchamel sauce for the dish. The steady temperature a Dutch oven provides makes cooking a delicate cheese sauce easier.
Then, after stirring in cooked pasta, the dish can be topped with seasoned bread crumbs and moved directly to the oven to bake!
Coq au Vin
Classic French food recipes are always a treat, and Coq au Vin is no exception!
This delicious one-pot dish is made by browning chicken in the Dutch oven before adding wine, vegetables, stock, and seasoning.
Then, the pot is moved to the oven so the dish can finish cooking.
The slow oven-bake results in tender chicken and a rich flavour that can’t be beat!
Fried Chicken or Fish
Because of its large size and even heat distribution, a cast iron Dutch oven is an ideal way to deep-fry your favourite foods at home.
Start by filling the Dutch oven about 1/3 full of oil and bringing it to the correct temperature. Ideally, you’ll want to use a cooking thermometer for this.
Then, bread or batter the food, and use a wire scoop or basket to carefully place it in the pot of oil.
The crispy flavour of fried chicken or fish is simply unbeatable, and the Dutch oven makes it surprisingly easy to do at home.
Just remember, hot oil is dangerous. Use a rear burner, work carefully, and don’t move the pot after cooking until the oil has cooled!
Both sourdough bread and crusty French bread bake beautifully in a Dutch oven.
If you’re new to baking bread, start with an easy no-knead bread dough recipe. Then, form the dough into a round loaf that will fit the Dutch oven.
Finally, the dough is placed in the preheated pot, covered, and put in the oven to bake to perfection.
The hot pot helps the dough to rise as it bakes, and creates that desirable crisp crust on the loaf.
While all of these foods are delicious when cooked in a Dutch oven, the best thing about having one of these cast iron essentials is that it works for so many foods!
So, start to experiment and see for yourself how easy it is to great gourmet dishes when you have the versatile Dutch oven to help!