Cook the Perfect Meal (and More!)
Made out of bare or enameled cast iron, a Dutch oven is a versatile kitchen tool that’s a must-have for any avid home cook. These heavy-bottomed pots have been used in a variety of forms to prepare food for hundreds of years. Outside of the United States, they’re generally referred to as casserole dishes.
While they’re popular for slow cooking at low temperatures, Dutch ovens can serve a wide variety of purposes when it comes to cooking, baking, and more. Read on to discover all of the ways to use this timeless kitchen must-have.
You might be used to boiling pasta in a large stainless steel pot, but consider taking out your Dutch oven the next time you’re making spaghetti. Boil water in the Dutch oven, and when the pasta is perfectly al dente, strain it and place it back in the pot. The Dutch oven then acts as the perfect vessel for finishing the pasta with sauce, a pat of butter, and some pasta water.
One of the reasons Dutch ovens are so beloved is that they can handle extremely high heat, making them oven-friendly. Not only that, they also offer excellent heat retention. Once they’ve reached a certain temperature, they’ll maintain an even heat level for hours. That’s why they’re a great choice for roasting pot roasts, chickens, and even small turkeys for the holidays.
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Although Dutch ovens excel when exposed to high temperatures, they also do a great job managing low heat levels. With such great temperature control, they are a smart choice for simmering a sauce all day when you want to maintain a gentle cooking temperature without burning the bottom. Use your Dutch oven to make an Italian ragu or tomato sauce, or complex-flavored curries, barbeque sauces, and more.
Slow Cook Soup
For the same reason that Dutch ovens are so useful for cooking sauces at low temperatures, they do an excellent job of slow-cooking soups and stews. Whether you’re making a lentil dhal dish, a hearty meat and potato stew, or an autumnal roasted vegetable soup, the Dutch oven acts as both an efficient cooking tool and an attractive serving dish.
Related: 7 Easy Ways to Rescue a Scorched Pot
Ditch the single-use bread machine and bake your next boule using your Dutch oven. The result will be a perfect loaf with a thick, crispy crust and a light and airy interior. Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread Recipe, published in The New York Times, uses a Dutch oven, and has an impressive 5-star rating with more than 15,000 reviews!
Cover and Cook a Casserole
One-pot meals have become increasingly popular as our everyday lives get busier, and Dutch ovens are the perfect vessels for a baked one-pot dish. While you can certainly use a standard casserole dish, you will appreciate that Dutch ovens typically have larger capacities, which are great when you’re cooking for a crowd. Not only that, their heavy lids mean that you don’t need to fuss with aluminum foil when making a dish that needs to be covered.
You don’t need a deep fryer to create crispy fries, chicken wings, or tempura-battered veggies. Since Dutch ovens can withstand high heat and do such a great job with maintaining a consistent temperature, they’re the perfect tool for deep frying. Simply fill the pot with vegetable oil, insert a candy thermometer so that you can monitor the oil’s temperature, and follow your favorite deep-frying recipe.
Related: 10 Smart Ways to Prevent an Oven Fire
Keep a Secret Hiding Place
Dutch ovens are large, covered vessels that work well for storage for those with limited space in their kitchens. Use them as an extra spot to keep infrequently used cooking utensils or baking equipment when the pot isn’t in use. They also come in handy as a secret hiding spot for anything you don’t want the other members of your family to find, like your candy stash or a rainy day fund.
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