Lovin’ the Dutch Oven: Rediscover This Kitchen Workhorse
The versatile cast-iron pot can take the place of lots of fancy cookware
Your kitchen cabinets may be filled with specialty pots and pans, but the humble Dutch oven can step in when it comes to boiling, baking, frying and braising.
"The Dutch oven is a jack-of-all-trades in the kitchen,” says Matt Clifton, coauthor with his wife, Emily, of The Ultimate Dutch Oven Cookbook.
These large lidded pots — the classic versions are made of cast iron with a glazed ceramic coating — can be used on the stove or in the oven, at high or low heat, for fast or slow cooking. And they look so attractive. “We usually end up bringing it to the table to serve,” Clifton says.
You should know
- Good cast-iron Dutch ovens are expensive but usually worth it — though in some cases, you do pay extra for the brand name. They’ll last for decades if you take care of them, so use wood or silicone tools to avoid scratches.
- Prestigious brands include Le Creuset, Staub and Lodge, but other top names in kitchen gear offer them, too. Skip cheaper knockoffs from unfamiliar brands; lower-quality Dutch ovens chip easily.
- The heavy iron efficiently holds heat, but it requires some core and arm strength to transfer. For safety, lift with your legs (not your back). Use quality oven mitts.
Some dishes that Clifton recommends:
1. Short ribs
Brown meat; sauté onions, garlic, flavorings; add red wine; reduce. Add soy sauce and maple syrup. Braise in oven.
2. Mac and cheese
Cook chopped kimchi in butter until soft. Fold into your favorite mac and cheese recipe before baking.
Cook chopped onion and fennel. Add chorizo and beer. Simmer. Add mussels, then steam.
Marinate chicken thighs in soy sauce, vinegar, chopped jalapeños and garlic. Reserve marinade to stew browned chicken.
Brown marinated shanks. Sauté with onions and tomato paste. Add chicken stock and cook 3 hours. Serve over couscous, with pomegranate seed garnish.
Cook risotto-style with vegetable stock. Stir in roasted butternut squash and toasted sage.
Bake with the lid on to create steam, then uncover at the end to crisp the crust.
How to Use a Dutch Oven
AARP Membership -Join AARP for just $12 for your first year when you enroll in automatic renewal
Join today and save 25% off the standard annual rate. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.
Kelsey Ogletree is a contributing writer who covers food and travel. She has also written for The Wall Street Journal, Midwest Living and Conde Nast Traveler.