What on earth is a Dutch Oven? Well, I'm glad you asked because it's only the finest piece of cookware to grace any kitchen. A vast majority of recipes on this site that request any form of a pot will always suggest a Dutch Oven due to its superior cooking technology.
Let's get one thing straight, though, when I say Dutch Oven, I'm using it as an umbrella term to help you understand two slightly different cooking pots. There is a Dutch Oven which is essentially a cast iron pot; then there is a French Oven which is a Dutch Oven with an enamel coating. For the sake of this article, I will use the term Dutch Oven as a way of describing both.
So, a Dutch oven, why should you buy one, and why is it the most fantastic item to grace your kitchen? You'll see the term "heavy bottom" in countless recipes and blogs when describing a saucepan. Well, guess what? This Dutch Oven will provide you with this heavy bottom and exceptional heat diffusing due to its thick cast iron composition. A good quality Dutch Oven is practically made from the same metal as a tank. These are industrial-grade cookers. Not to mention that the lid is also fantastic at keeping in heat!
With heat diffusing that's second to none, it can also stand up to whatever heat you pin it up against. High heat on a large stove? No problem, 450 Degree oven? No problem. When I say industrial, I mean it, you can drop It, and it'll still be in good shape.
Thanks to its durability, it's also effortless to clean. Strong scrubber and stainless steel should be entirely acceptable for use. With that being said, Dutch Ovens with an enamel coating may scratch at the use of strong scrubbers, so it's best to check the care instructions.
Now to the fun stuff, There are a few brands, Staub in particular, who will have a self-basting design. On the lid of some of these pots are little rounded spikes per se. As the steam comes up, it accumulates on the lid. As the buildup becomes substantial, the juices and aromatics drip off the spikes and back down into the pot. It's an ingenious design.
My favorite part, though, is the flavor retention that one of these pots has over time. When you first buy an Enameled Dutch Oven, your food will taste good. Over time though, flavors will become a part of the Enamel and your food will taste amazing. You'll find that the new dishes you cook will be more flavorful and take on a few notes from your previous cooking. Don't worry, though; it's not going to turn your Apple Pie into a spicy, fiery dessert from the chicken wings you cooked the day before. It takes a lot of cooking and dishes to add and alter the flavor in your Dutch Oven.
It's hard to find a disadvantage in these Dutch Ovens, but two come to mind—both the Weight and the Price.
Because of their cast-iron composition, these pots tend not to be light; the one I have weighs 17.14 Pounds. This isn't the most lightweight cookware, but this is the weight you need for the best even heating and strong durability. The only type of cookware that rivals a Dutch Oven is one made of copper. I don't mean copper threaded, but genuine solid copper. Unfortunately, these don't work on induction surfaces which is why a Dutch oven is amazing
**side note: If you're looking to buy an induction stove, don't do it. You're limiting yourself to numerous types of fantastic cookware that professional kitchens use. You won't see induction in a professional kitchen; you'll see gas. Always choose gas when you have the option. It's much easier to control.
Then there is the cost of a good quality Dutch Oven. For a five-quart red Dutch Oven from Le Creuset, it'll run you $370. Yes, it's expensive, but you'll be paying for their lifetime warranty, hand-crafted cookery dating back to 1925, and a family heirloom that'll be passed down. If you're in the market, save up the money and buy Le Creuset, don't buy cheap. When it comes to cooking, you want quality that'll stand up to anything you throw at it.
What Can You Cook in it?
Nearly anything, you can genuinely cook anything you want in it. Need to sear, brown, or braise something? The Dutch Oven has you covered. Need to make a soup that'll boil for hours? Easy. You can even make bread in your Dutch Oven. Anything that calls for any pot or pan, whether it's cooked on the stove or in the Oven, the Dutch Oven will be able to handle it. I use mine for almost everything, so don't be afraid to try it out on all the dishes you make. You will quickly see how big of a difference the even heating will give. You don't have to worry about burning half your steak while the other half is raw.
We can't wait for you to give a Dutch Oven a try, and if you have a special recipe you like to cook in it, share it with us on our recipe group page!
"The Flying Chef"