A Guide to using a Dutch Oven

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No matter how many fancy new gadgets become the newest social media fad, the actual kitchen needs are quite simple. You don’t need a fancy peeler for every other vegetable. A set of solid, durable knives will do just fine. And all those different pots, pans, and woks may sound amazing – but you may not need much more than a simple frying pan and a proper dutch oven to cover most of your cooking needs. But, while stern-looking chefs and cookbooks keep insisting we buy ourselves a trusty little dutch oven the first chance we get, not everyone knows exactly what dutch ovens are. Or what they are used for.

What is a dutch oven?

Simply put, it is a solid cast iron pot that comes with a heavy lid. But not all dutch ovens are made the same. Some come enameled to provide greater heat retention and durability. Originally, they were used to cook over open fires. These days, they are mostly used atop stoves and in grills and ovens. Thankfully, they’re still as versatile and hold the capacity to intensify flavors and leave your tastebuds begging for more.

What are they used for?

Dutch ovens are the kings of keeping things simple. Whether you want to braise, boil, saute, or simmer, the dutch oven has got your back. The heavy-duty pots were originally designed to help brown veggies and meat. But these days you can even make loaves of bread in them. Or use them to make a delicious serving of one-pot pasta. 

You can use a dutch oven to make stock as well, although they tend to be stouter than stockpots. Designed to retain heat, dutch ovens make for the perfect choice when you are looking for that delicious caramelization on your meat. And they make for perfect as a serving utensil – their ruggedness easily adding to the charm of any Instagram feed.

The benefits of using dutch ovens

1. They’re versatile

You can broil, brown, caramelize, or, on nights when you don’t want to spend hours hunched over the stove, simply whip up delicious one-pot meals. You can use them on stovetops, ovens, and grills. Slow cooking over open fires is also an option. No matter what method you use, though, dutch ovens are sure to offer up intense flavors every time. 

2. They’re safer

They’re solid iron heavy-duty pots. So, what you see is what you get with them. No chemicals, no added bells, and whistles. Just simple, delicious food.

3. They last a lifetime

Dutch ovens tend to be a tad on the expensive side compared to most other kitchen pots and pans you may have. But they are solid and durable enough to last you a lifetime or two and can be passed down the family for generations to come.

4. They retain heat and flavor

Not only do dutch ovens help hold the heat in, but they are also designed to retain moisture. With good meat, we know how important heat and moisture are to the overall taste and texture. Because they retain the heat, they also help hold in flavor while cooking your food evenly. 

5. They save energy

Whether they are enamel-coated or not, every dutch oven retains heat. This means that they do not need to be supplied with hours of energy but keep cooking even when your stove is off. Then they also keep food warm for extended periods of time. So, there is no need to keep going back to the microwave to warm your meal every time someone wants to eat. This makes dutch ovens energy-efficient and environment friendly.