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How to Use a Dutch Oven

No, we aren't talking about that Dutch Oven (gross!). Believe it or not, there is an actual thing called a Dutch Oven. And we are here to tell you how to use it!

This popular pot was named for the Pennsylvania Dutch, who although immigrants from Germany were called Dutch, from the German Deutsch. The Pennsylvania Dutch popularized this sturdy pot in the eighteenth century, before they had ovens. On a stove top, the heavy cast iron held and diffused heat like an oven. Deep and with a heavy, tight-fitting lid and short handles on two sides, most Dutch ovens’ size and weight make them perfect for braising stews and large cuts of meat, both on the stove top and in the oven.

Today, Dutch ovens come in a variety of materials, but the original cast iron lives on. If you’re in the market for a Dutch oven, keep in mind that the cast iron reacts with acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes and wine. You may want to consider a model made of a nonreactive metal or cast iron coated with enamel. Brightly colored enameled Dutch ovens are especially popular for both their beauty and durability. Sometimes referred to as a casserole, the Dutch oven comes round or oval and in a variety of depths.

Tips for Using

An oval Dutch oven is a good choice for roasting a whole chicken or an oval roast, such as a leg of lamb or a pot roast.
Use a round Dutch oven for hearty soups, stews, beans, short ribs, and lamb or veal shanks. Sizes range from small to quite large; the most practical size is 6 to 8 quarts.
When selecting a cast-iron Dutch oven, make sure you can comfortably lift it. The lid is one-third of the total weight of most heavy pots. If possible, lighten the load by removing the lid before lifting the pot.
Some Dutch ovens come with glass lids, making it possible for the curious cook to check on slow-cooked foods without lifting the lid and losing precious moisture and heat. Many Dutch ovens are handsome enough for serving and will hold heat and keep food warm for an extended period of time.

Care in Using

Enameled cast iron takes all kinds of tough cleaning without damage. If possible, avoid strong detergents or hard scrubbing on regular cast iron. If you must use soap, dry the pot thoroughly over low heat and then rub dry with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Always consult the manu¬facturer’s instructions.

Alternatives

Braiser, Cocotte, or Sauté Pan


—From Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table with Marie Simmons/Andrews McMeel Publishing

-- The Nest Editors

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