Weekend Extra...Beatriz Garcia's Guest Blog On Dutch Ovens
Cooking With Dutch Ovens
Let me introduce our Guest Blogger, Beatriz Garcia of Clan Kitchen. She says of herself..."I'm a mum and a housewife who wants to find the simplest way to cook tasty, nutritious food for my family." Her site, Clan Kitchen, contains a wealth of interesting knowledge . The pictures are of our Dutch Oven at home and its use....Now, read Beatriz and enjoy.
you heard of Dutch ovens but never quite gotten round to using one? Then read on to find out more about them and how to use them.
History Of Dutch Ovens
The first Dutch ovens originated in the 18th century, though they were based on even older cookware.
These early Dutch ovens were designed for coal or wood fires, not for stoves or ovens. This meant they had three legs (to raise them above the coals) and a flat lid (to put coals on).
These days Dutch ovens come in all shapes and sizes, but many campers will only use the traditional form, even today. After all, what’s better for a campfire than something designed for fire?
What is a Dutch oven?
All Dutch ovens have a flat bottom, rounded sides, and a lid. They are normally made from cast iron.
There are some stainless steel and aluminum Dutch ovens out there, yet my feeling is if it isn’t cast iron, it isn’t a Dutch oven. I’d prefer to call the stainless steel or other versions “stockpots.”
Some versions of the Dutch oven come as “enameled” cast iron. This is just a coating on top of the cast iron that helps make it more low maintenance. This, for me, still counts as a “Dutch oven”.
Cooking with Dutch Ovens
What’s so Great about a Dutch Oven?
Dutch ovens offer a few advantages:
Because cast iron is so good at retaining temperature, Dutch ovens are slow to warm up and slow to cool down. This heat retention stops the food from cooling the oven when it touches the sides, providing consistent heating.
A Heavy Lid retains moisture
You can’t seal a cooking pot - you have to let the air out as it heats, or it could explode. (Even pressure cookers have some sort of pressure release.)
A heavy lid helps retain moisture as it takes quite a bit of pressure to lift the lid so it stays “open” for less time. Sealing the moisture in helps with dishes like bread where it stops the outside cracking.
Cast Iron is Healthy
Cast iron, when properly seasoned, is basically non-stick. Perhaps not quite as much as Teflon, but there are fewer health concerns with cast iron.
A little bit, but not too much, of iron in your diet can be healthy, at least for adults without any excess iron. So it’s another plus!
Dutch ovens are great pieces of cookware that are equally at home on the stovetop as in the oven. And if your Dutch oven is enameled–even better, as it will make a beautiful serving dish.
Cast iron is one of the most durable and robust cooking materials around. People use Dutch ovens their grandmothers handed down to them.
Of course, be warned, robust isn’t invulnerable. Treat it with care, and you will find a treasure that lasts a lifetime.
How to Cook with a Dutch Oven
When it comes to cooking with a Dutch oven, there are lots of choices. Of course, you can use it to make a soup or stew, but that’s almost too obvious to mention!
If you’re fed up with basting that turkey, then a Dutch oven could be for you!
Since the lid traps the moisture, it drips from the Dutch oven back into your food. You could call it “auto-basting.”
Some Dutch ovens are particularly suited to this as they have little points on the inside of the lid. These points help liquid condense all over the lid, creating a “rain” effect inside the oven.
A Dutch oven is ideal for baking bread. Make sure to allow a little extra time for the Dutch oven to warm up. After that, you can follow your recipe!
Deep frying is a great way to use your Dutch oven. Here’s a little secret: Extra Virgin Olive Oil is ideal for this. Just make sure you don’t overheat it.
Dutch ovens are good at deep frying because their solid heat retention helps maintain an even temperature.
Look after Your Oven
Unless it is enameled, cast iron needs to be seasoned. This is simply the case of coating it with a thin layer of oil or fat then heating it until it smokes.
You also need to take care when cleaning it. No dishwasher! Ideally, no detergent. Just wipe it down, then immediately dry it.
Dutch ovens are a great cooking tool with many uses. If you want to find out more about what they are based on, then read the original article here.