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Why Your Kitchen Needs a Dutch Oven

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A note from your grandmother found in the kitchen…

What’s that there? A Crock-Pot? Do I, your dear old gran, see an electric slow cooker in your kitchen? Posh! Back in my day, we didn’t need fancy gizmos to make a stew, pot roast or broccoli casserole. We did it the old fashioned way: A Dutch oven!

Eh? You don’t have a Dutch oven? Of course, you do! I gave you one on your wedding day, and you left it buried in the back of your cabinet, you ungrateful whippersnapper. It’s the big, lidded cooking pot made from an insulated yet conductive material like cast iron or ceramic (my memory isn’t what it used to be).

It bakes bread and casseroles and lasagna. It fries chicken and roasts veggies. It stews stews. It’s a Dutch oven, deary, and it’s the best cooking implement you’ve never used.

Eh? Speak up! How is this different than a Crock-Pot or other modern-slow cooker, you ask? Bless my bloomers! You young folks are too busy with your beepers and rock-and-roll music to learn how to cook properly! I’ll have you know those fancy gizmos use the same principle; in fact, you can adapt most “Crock-Pot recipes” to the same Dutch oven that people have been using for centuries. No power needed!

There are oodles of exciting and unique recipes you can make in a Dutch oven. But first, a few things nice young cook should keep in mind. Most Dutch ovens are either in cast iron, aluminium or ceramic. Cast iron has to be properly cleaned and maintained, but some chefs remain unbendable when it comes to cast iron crockery. You should listen to them! Cast iron was what we used back in olden times, when your grandfather was still cooking baked beans over a campfire on the open range, until that day the herd stampeded and he was crushed by a thousand emus. What? You’ve heard this story a hundred times? I’m just happy your grandfather isn’t here to hear your backsass!

Where was I? Right, Dutch ovens. Time to get cooking. Here are a few delicious but easy dishes to try:

Stew

Let’s start with a hearty classic. Dutch ovens are perfect for stews because they can braise or roast the necessary ingredients and then stew and simmer them slowly and easily. Here is a good recipe for Dutch oven beef stew from Taste of Home, and another for exotic Moroccan lentil stew. And to channel your true inner cowboy, this recipe for old style baked beans uses molasses and bacon.

Soup

Nothing does “one pot” soups better than a Dutch oven because the even temperature distribution makes it easy to retains moisture without boiling over or burning ingredients at the bottom of the pot. Try it with this simple chicken soup recipe from Little Broken, cream of mushroom soup from the Blond Cook and Spanish tortilla soup from Everyday Dutch Oven.

Casserole

Here’s a cheesy broccoli and rice casserole (although this requires putting the Dutch oven inside a regular oven). Also try this chicken casserole recipe from Maya Kitchenette.

Pot roast

If you want to make baked chicken and Sunday roast like your dear old gran does it, a Dutch oven is the way to go. The Kitchn has a great recipe for whole chicken baked in its own juices, and here is a Dutch oven beef pot roast from My Recipes.

Paella and Lasagna

Did I tell you your great, great auntie Mila was from Milan? Rogattoni! You’re part Italian! Here’s a paella you can make in the Dutch oven, and be sure to give this “campfire lasagna” a try, if only for your dear emu-ranching grandfather’s sake.

Indian curry

Let’s not forget dear old cousin Vidya from Bangalore. She was a fan of the Dutch oven, too, and used it to make chicken tikka masala and palak paneer.

Cherry chocolate lava cake in a dutch oven

This is a campfire specialty I used to make when I was out on the range with your grandfather. I used to bake him a fantastic cherry lava cake and sing old tunes to keep the emus calm. [Sings for some time.]

I hope you learned a thing or two about Dutch ovens, dearie.

In case you get hungry, here is a list of 42 more amazing Dutch oven recipes from Bon Appetit.

Now I’m off to email you an article about how cell phones make your eyebrows fall off.

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