If you enjoy creating delicious dishes in the kitchen, you probably have an interest in different contraptions that can help you do this. One of these contraptions is a Dutch oven. If you’re not familiar with these, you might wonder: What is a Dutch oven?
What Is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven can be an integral part of your kitchen. You may still be wondering though, what is a Dutch oven?
Simply put, a Dutch oven is a heavy cooking pot that has a tightly fitting lid. It’s good for a variety of purposes, including braising, making soups and stews, and making a variety of sweet treats.
If you want to know how a Dutch oven works, you should just start by thinking of your conventional oven at home. It’s self-contained, and whatever you put in there will be surrounded by heat on all sides.
A Dutch oven works similarly to a regular oven. The bottom, top, and sides of the Dutch oven all radiate heat inward at once. This allows the oven to cook the food inside from all directions at equal temperatures.
So, again, what is a Dutch oven? It’s a pot that acts a lot like a small, self-contained oven.
Typically, a Dutch oven is made from cast iron. You can use it either on the stovetop or in the oven. If it’s made of cast iron, you need to season it before using it, just like you need to do with any cast iron cookware.
Cast iron Dutch ovens can withstand very high levels of heat. This makes them good tools that you can use for deep frying.
Manufacturers design Dutch ovens for both indoor and outdoor use. The indoor ones don’t have legs, so you can effectively put it right over a burning stove. Outdoor Dutch ovens have legs, which help when you’re using them for cooking over an open fire.
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Things You Can Do with a Dutch Oven
You now know a little bit more about the answer to the question: What is a Dutch oven? Now that you have this information, you might want to know how you can use one. There are many uses for a Dutch oven.
Since most of them are cast iron, they are poor conductors of heat. That means it takes them a long time to heat up, but they retain their heat for a long time once they’re hot.
So, what is a Dutch oven? An answer to this question wouldn’t be complete without letting you know everything that a Dutch oven can do, which is more than you probably think.
Cooking a stew
You can take advantage of the properties of the Dutch oven. For example, because it retains heat for a long time, it is ideal if you’re trying to braise meat or slow-cook a stew.
Once liquid inside the Dutch oven reaches a gentle simmer, it doesn’t require a lot of energy to maintain that temperature. Meaning, you can keep it at a somewhat low temperature, or even turn it off if you’re close to the end of cooking time. This won’t stop the food inside the Dutch oven from continuing to cook.
If you’re trying to cook a stew or otherwise braise meat, a Dutch oven can be perfect for this purpose.
You might be surprised to know that you can also bake with a Dutch oven. You can use it for baking cakes, pizzas, bread, and a variety of desserts. All you need to do is put hot coals on top of the lid and underneath the Dutch oven as well.
Be sure to consider the diameter of your Dutch oven. To figure out how many coals to put on top, add three to the diameter of the oven in inches, and that’s how many coals you need. Subtract three for the number that you put on the bottom. You should always put more coals on top than on the bottom, to prevent food on the bottom from burning.
If you’re doing this indoors, you can simply put the Dutch oven into your conventional oven instead of using coals.
Need a skillet?
To quickly make some breakfast, you can actually turn the lid upside down and use it as a skillet. Just put it directly on either hot coals or your stovetop, depending on whether it’s an outdoor or indoor Dutch oven.
Most Dutch oven lids are somewhat shallow, and they have a dip in the middle, so they’re capable of holding runny ingredients, such as eggs and pancake batter.
In the mood for a roast?
Because Dutch ovens are so capable of maintaining heat for long periods, they’re good if you want to roast a large cut of meat. You can heat it on your stove top or in your oven, adding liquid and any vegetables you want while you’re cooking the roast.
Cook two things at once!
If you want to, you can use your Dutch oven for cooking a stew along with a side of green vegetables, or any other combination of two dishes.
You can also get creative with your Dutch oven. All you need is an extra accessory, such as a steamer basket or wire rack. If you know how to use your Dutch oven, it can be extremely versatile.
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Four Tasty Treats You Can Make with a Dutch Oven
Initially, you were wondering, what is a Dutch oven? Now, you know that it has a plethora of different uses. And we have a few tasty treats that you can make in your Dutch oven very easily.
1. No-knead bread
This recipe is simple, even if you’re not an experienced baker. You only need a few ingredients.
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour (plus a little more flour for shaping later)
- 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups of warm water
To start, just whisk the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl until it’s mixed well. Pour in the warm water, and stir everything with a wooden spoon until you get a sticky dough. Then, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap end set it aside in a warm area for 8 to 18 hours so that the dough can rise.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and put your Dutch oven with the cover into the oven 30 minutes before you start baking.
Now, punch down the dough. Cover a sheet of parchment paper with flour, put the dough on the parchment paper, and quickly shape it into a ball. Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then put it into the Dutch oven.
Let the Dutch oven sit in your oven for 45 minutes covered, and then another 10 or 15 minutes uncovered. Your bread should be ready now.
2. Homemade applesauce
This applesauce is pretty easy to make as well. You’ll need:
- 6 to 8 Granny Smith apples
- 6 to 8 sweet red apples
- 1 juiced and zested lemon
- 2 juiced and zested large navel oranges
- 1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, put the juice and zest of the lemon and oranges into a large bowl. Peel the apples, remove the cores, and slice them up into the juice.
Put the mixture, along with the rest of the ingredients, into the Dutch oven. Bake everything for about 90 minutes. Then, mix it with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.
You can serve it either warm or at room temperature.
3. Fruit cobbler
You can make any kind of cobbler you want using a Dutch oven. All you need is:
- 4 cups of the fruit of your choice
- 1/2 box of vanilla cake mix
- 1 cup of lemon-lime soda
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Also, you should preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the cake mix and lemon-lime soda in a medium bowl. Put your fruit in the Dutch oven, and spoon the cake mix batter over the top. Then, top it with bits of butter and sugar.
If the Dutch oven was already at 350 degrees, it should take about 30 minutes to cook this cobbler. You should check on it about every 10 minutes. It’s done when the topping is golden brown, and you see the fruit juices bubbling.
4. Raspberry rose jam
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- 2 pounds of raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of rosewater
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
Begin by tossing the sugar and raspberries into your Dutch oven, and let it sit until the raspberries begin to release their juices, which should take about 20 to 30 minutes.
Start heating your Dutch oven on medium heat above your stove top. Start stirring occasionally, and then, as the mixture starts to get thicker, stir it more often to prevent the jam from scorching. Do this until most of the liquid evaporates, and the mixture is thick, which should take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Take the mixture away from the heat source, and then stir in the rosewater and lemon juice. Now, you can put it into jars or whatever container you wish.
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Now We’re Cooking!
As you can see, a Dutch oven is much more useful and versatile than most people know. You probably got much more than you bargained for when you first pondered the question: What is a Dutch oven?
A Dutch oven is great for all sorts of culinary projects that you might have in mind. You can use it to make a stew, a daily breakfast, or even make bread. Because of its properties, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to let something cook for several hours while you do something else.
If you have an interest in using a Dutch oven yourself, there’s no time like the present. You can make all the tasty treats we mentioned above with minimal effort.
What do you think about a Dutch oven? Have you ever used one? Feel free to let us know in the comments section!