A Dutch oven is hands down one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you could have in your kitchen. In case you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid that’s suitable for both oven and stovetop use. They’re usually made of cast iron (although some varieties are ceramic or cast aluminium), and have been used as cooking vessels for hundreds of years across different cultures. To fully appreciate the versatility of the Dutch oven, it pays to get to know everything it can do – which, quite frankly, is a lot. Read on to learn how to get the most out of this nifty kitchen workhorse:
Did you know that you can create the perfect loaf of bread using your Dutch oven? A decade ago, Jim Lahey created a no-knead bread baking method, claiming it’s so simple that “even a 4-year-old could master it”. All you need to do is stir your ingredients together and let your Dutch oven do the rest of the work. The steam trapped inside the pot will help to create a delicious, crackly golden crust and a beautiful round shape.
There’s yet to be a piece of cookware that’s as effective at keeping a consistent heat as a Dutch oven, making it the perfect choice for braising meats. The steam that gets trapped under the lid while cooking will help you achieve a tender, evenly cooked piece of meat every time. Dutch ovens also retain heat exceptionally well and will stay piping hot for up to half an hour after you take them out of the oven.
Use the Lid
Many people don’t realise that the lid of their Dutch oven can also be used as a handy cooking tool. If your pot is taking up too much space in the oven, just cover the lid with foil, turn it upside down on top of the Dutch oven, and use it as a roasting tray. You can also use the flat surface of the lid to hold the ingredients you plan to add to your pot to reduce the number of dishes to wash up later.
Soups and Stews
A Dutch oven is an essential piece of equipment for any soup or stew aficionado. Its thick walls can withstand hours of cooking time to impart rich, delicious flavours to any dish. Dutch ovens are the perfect vessel for simple one-pot recipes, too – all you need to do is throw in your ingredients in order of how long they need to cook and let your creation simmer away in much the same way as you would use a slow cooker.
Keep it Cool
A Dutch oven doesn’t just excel at keeping food hot – it can also be used as a serving dish to keep cold foods at a low temperature. Just fill up your pot with ice water for five minutes, pour it out, dry it, then add in your food. This is the perfect solution for serving up a refreshing fruit salad or keeping potato or pasta salad chilled.
There’s a reason that Dutch ovens have remained one of the most popular cookware items for hundreds of years. Their multipurpose function means you can use them for just about anything, whether that’s frying up chicken, boiling water for a one-pot pasta dish, or even preparing desserts. For your next dinner, try out some of these techniques – you’ll be sure to fall in love with your Dutch oven all over again.