Food preparation has become less stressful with the advancement of kitchen utensils like the Dutch oven.
The Dutch oven is a conventional utensil in a home kitchen. Its versatility and importance are underestimated because most people have yet to learn about them.
What is a Dutch oven?
A Dutch oven is a heavy, thick-walled pot with a lid that takes on the work of most kitchen utensils. The unique pot can be placed on the stovetop for simmering food or in the oven for braising. It can be used to make soup, boil pasta, or even bake bread.
Due to its thick wall, the Dutch oven helps to retain heat and keep the food warm. Its short handles on both sides of the pot help to create balance when removing or inserting the pot inside an oven.
The Dutch oven serves many purposes in the kitchen, not just to brown meat and vegetables. This article lists these purposes, alongside different brands of Dutch ovens rated highly on Amazon.
Uses of a Dutch oven
1. Boiling of pasta
A Dutch oven serves as the perfect pot for cooking pasta. Once the pasta is cooked firmly enough to bite, strain it and put it back in the pot.
The Dutch oven finishes the pasta with sauce, pasta water, and other ingredients you want to add to it.
Frying can be challenging, especially with a frying pan, which is a flat-bottomed pan with a long handle and no lid. However, a Dutch oven could reduce the oil splatter and can be used for deep-frying due to its depth.
Whether frying a chicken or making a doughnut, the result will come out splendid with no scald on your body.
The Dutch oven also ensures even oil heating, which may take time due to its heavy nature. Hence, you should exercise patience and check the oil temperature.
3. Braising meat
One benefit of using a Dutch oven for cooking is the low ‘heat and slow time it takes to make meats super tender. Braising meat involves two steps.
First, the meats are seared and browned in hot oil in a Dutch oven. Then, you can add wine or broth and spices or vegetables to improve the taste of the meat.
Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 1-3 hours, depending on the size of the meat you cut. Consequently, check the amount of liquid in the pot so the meat won’t dry out.
4. Roasting meat
Another important use of a Dutch oven is the roasting of meats. It is so because the pot can withstand high heat due to its thick nature. It also retains heat for hours once it has reached a certain temperature.
According to Cooking for My Soul, you can roast meat in a Dutch oven by first preheating the pot to 300°F and seasoning the meat with salt. The meat is then seared to a brown color and removed from the pot.
Once you have prepared your vegetables, you can put the meat back inside the pot to mix with the flavors.
5. Bake bread
Although Dutch ovens are popularly known for making stews and braising meats, they can also be used for baking bread.
With the pot closed, it creates the perfect environment for the golden color and crust texture of the bread.
A Dutch oven eliminates the need for kneading and shaping. It is, however, dependent on the type of bread you wish to bake.
Most bread baked in a Dutch oven is cornbread. The steam from the pot would bake up the dough to the crunchy crust that you love most in bread.
6. Make gravy and sauce
In a Dutch oven, you can make gravies for mashed potatoes, biscuits, roasts, or noodles.
Slow and low heat is the best way to cook gravy or sauce, which is one of the benefits of using a Dutch oven.
Unlike conventional pots, the Dutch oven retains and distributes heat to allow even cooking of each flavor and to produce a tasty sauce.
How to use a Dutch oven
A Dutch oven can be used the same way as your conventional cooking pot or your frying pan. However, due to its thick features, some procedures have to be taken on certain foods to prevent bad cooking.
- To prepare soup in a Dutch oven, you should completely cover the pot to cook gently.
- When making sauce, place the lid slightly ajar for evaporation, especially when you want to reduce the liquid content.
- For searing meat, first heat the pot for a while before adding oil. Immediately add the meat to prevent the oil from overheating. Alternatively, you can add oil directly to the meat while it is in the pot.
- A Dutch oven makes a fancy serving dish and retains heat for a long time. Hence, you should place it on a strong trivet and warn your guests of the heat.
- Due to its hotness, always handle a Dutch oven with a dry towel, especially when you are bringing it out of the oven.
Different Dutch ovens and their uses
1. Amazon Basics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Round Dutch Oven
Value for money
This Dutch oven is best for baking, cooking, and sautéing.
2. Crock-Pot Artisan Round Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Value for money
It is ideal for simmering, braising, slow cooking, and baking.
3. Lodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Value for money
It is perfect for broiling, braising, roasting, baking, or serving meals on the table.
4. Lodge Cast Iron Serving Pot Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven
Value for money
This Dutch oven is used to sear, simmer, braise, boil, roast, sauté, and fry.
5. HexClad 5 Quart Hybrid Nonstick Dutch Oven
Value for money
This type of Dutch oven is compatible with all types of cooking, including boiling, braising, frying, grilling, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Dutch oven be used as an oven?
No, a Dutch oven cannot be used as an oven unless it is used for baking bread.
Although a Dutch oven can be used for baking bread, it is better to use a conventional oven to bake bread as it is heated from all angles and not just the bottom.
Can a Dutch oven be inserted inside an oven?
Yes, you can use a Dutch oven in a conventional oven. Whether it is a cast-iron enamel Dutch oven or the usual cast-iron Dutch oven, it will still produce tasty and good-looking food.
Can you fry in a Dutch oven?
Yes, you can fry in a Dutch oven. The thick-walled pot is most suitable for deep-frying due to its depth, which reduces oil splashes.
Unless you are in a business that requires deep-frying multiple times a week, there is no need to get a deep-fryer in a home kitchen.
Can you boil water in a Dutch oven?
Yes, you can boil water in a Dutch oven. According to Get Morsel, it depends on the kind of Dutch oven you have.
For a seasoned cast iron Dutch oven, boiling water frequently for a long time risks the seasoning wearing off.
Extra caution is taken in the enamel Dutch oven to prevent the enamel coating from stripping off.
A Dutch oven is a multi-purpose kitchen utensil you should have in your home kitchen.
Its usefulness ranges from deep-frying, roasting, and baking bread to making gravies and sauce, braising meat, and boiling pasta.