What is a Dutch Oven and What is it Used for?

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is a Dutch Oven?

A Dutch oven is a type of stove and oven-safe pot.  They are round on the bottom, can have medium to tall sides, are wide, and always have a lid that fits tightly on the top.  Dutch ovens are always heavy partly due to the thickness of the material around the edges and bottom of the pot.  There are two handles on the sides of the pot for easy transfer from stovetop to oven.  Most Dutch ovens are 5 and a half quarts in size, but they typically range between 5-7 quarts.  Because of its size, a Dutch oven is deep and capable of handling a high volume of foods and liquids.

What are Dutch Ovens Used For?

Dutch ovens are commonly used to braise foods, but they are also used for soups and stews.  A Dutch oven is sometimes used for making stocks and broths.  Dutch ovens are great for roasting vegetables and meats, baking pizzas or breads, and simmering foods slowly in the oven.

Learn About Dutch Ovens

An enamel Dutch oven on a wooden cutting board.

What are the Different Types of Dutch Oven?

  • Cast Iron
  • Enamel

Cast Iron

Cast iron Dutch ovens are often called bare cast iron because there is no coating on the outside.  This type of Dutch oven will usually withstand high heat without hurting the pot.  Cast iron Dutch ovens require seasoning and care to ensure they will not rust or degrade over time.  With proper care, this type of pot is extremely durable and will last for decades.

Enamel

Enamel Dutch ovens are metal or cast iron pots with a thick enamel coating.  This coating is usually brightly colored on the outside of the pot and white or light-colored on the inside of the pot.  These pots are easy to clean with regular dish soap.  Enamel Dutch ovens do not require seasoning like cast iron, but they are not as resistant to scratches.  Once the enamel begins to flake or chip on the inside of the Dutch oven, it may need to be replaced.  Additionally, the lighter colored enamel on the inside of the pot may discolor over time.

Recipes Using a Dutch Oven

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Use a Dutch oven to create a delicious homemade vegetable stock. Add onion, carrots, leek, celery, cloves of garlic, dill, sprigs of rosemary, sprigs of thyme, sea salt, pepper, and water to the Dutch oven. Simmer the liquid, strain the stock, then store in an airtight container.

Dutch Oven Pot Roast

Quickly sear chuck roast on the stove. Add in beef broth, potatoes, onions, carrots, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary sprigs, and fresh thyme sprigs. Transfer Dutch oven to the oven to roast until the meat is fork tender and falls apart easily.

Dutch Oven Potatoes

Make a tasty side dish in your Dutch oven. Season diced potatoes with salt and pepper. Begin to assemble ingredients in the Dutch oven by layering. Start with a layer of potatoes, then grated cheddar cheese, grated pepper jack cheese, and onions. Repeat and cover the top with remaining grated cheese. Bake until potatoes are soft.

Whole Roast Chicken

Use a Dutch oven to roast a whole chicken. Make sure to rub the outside of the chicken with a mixture of lemon juice, butter, salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Remove the giblets, season the cavity with salt, pepper, celery, onion, and garlic, then bake the chicken until fully cooked.

Chili

Make a big pot of chili in a Dutch oven. Brown ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic, and onions. Add canned tomatoes, beef broth, red kidney beans, chili powder, and paprika. Simmer until the liquid thickens. Serve with crackers and cheddar cheese.


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