What is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven, a heavy-duty pot with a lid, is the most important and versatile cooking vessel in your kitchen. This sturdy cooking vessel has been used for centuries to slow cook soups, stews, sauces and breads. Click here to learn more different sizes of enameled cast iron dutch ovens.
Dutch Oven vs French Oven
The difference between a Dutch oven and a French oven is the material used to cover the inside of the pot. Dutch ovens are made entirely of cast iron, while French ovens are coated with enamel.
Dutch Oven Uses
Dutch ovens are great for serving up a great pasta meal, and the best part is they help you save the pot of boiling water. The key to cooking pasta without all the water is to use a flavorful, high-moisture cooking liquid that can be easily used as a sauce. We like to use a combination of water, wine, liquid from canned tomatoes, and broth, depending on the flavor of the dish. This trick will save you time and make a pot full of pasta.
Cook Hearty Stews
Great stews are defined by their thick, rich texture. Rather than lengthen our ingredient lists with added thickening agents, we use the low-and-slow cooking technique to our advantage, allowing starchy ingredients to break down and add body to a stew naturally. From cooking sweet potatoes until they start to disintegrate to simmering quinoa until it sloughs off its starch, our best thickeners are right in front of our faces.
Steam Side Dishes
When we want sides that don’t disappear into the plate, we use our steamer basket to put vegetables on top. Positioning our steamer basket above the protein and cooking liquid allows vegetables like broccoli and asparagus to steam under the airtight seal of the Dutch oven without getting soggy, a trick that makes even the spiciest pans easy Make a different side entree.
Dutch ovens have long been used to bake bread. In a covered Dutch oven, trapped steam provides the sourdough bread with a crispy crust. It also serves sweets, baked goods (and doubles as a mixing vessel) for recipes like a delicious chocolate lava cake. the best part? The insulating walls of the Dutch oven effectively keep the center of the cake gooey and warm between meals.
Poached eggs, chicken, etc.
Cook the eggs in a Dutch oven filled with only 6 cups of water, leaving plenty of headspace above the eggs for the steam to fully cook the sticky whites closest to the yolks. But the approach could also be applied to other proteins. A steamer basket and plenty of water cook chicken breasts and fish perfectly on the stovetop in a Dutch oven.
How Often Should You Clean a Dutch Oven?
If the dishes you cook in your Dutch oven leave residue in the pan, you will need to clean it every time you use it. For some dishes, it will be necessary to clean the inside of the pan with a paper towel to wipe off excess oil. If the pan needs to be cleaned with soap and water, you can be sure that it will need to be seasoned afterwards to protect the cooking surface.
Baking bread in a cast iron skillet might just require a few paper towels to wipe down the inside. After these dishes are finished, anything with sauce or stew needs to be washed. If you cook with this container every day, you can bet it needs cleaning when it comes to liquids.