Today, cooking is all about convenience, creativity and health. Crock pots have become popular for the mom on the go, but there is another option available to busy moms and dads and anyone interested in cooking healthy. Dutch ovens have been around for centuries as three-legged cast iron pots that cooked massive amounts of food over an open flame or fire, sometimes outside. In fact, they are still the pot of choice for seasoned campers.
In the last 50 years, the dutch oven has emerged into a more conventional form that can be used pretty much on any stove or in the oven. In fact, most cookware packages include a dutch oven along with regular pots and pans. They are still used quite frequently by campers and outdoorsmen as well, but those types are usually made of cast iron and designed to sit over campfires.
With the emergence of a more convenient size, structure and weight has also come the art of dutch oven cooking. Instead of cast iron, the conventional models are usually made of enamel and are often non-stick as well. These deep, covered pots are great for slow cooking of things such as stews, roasts, soups and casseroles.
What’s attractive about a dutch oven is that it can take the heat of a conventional oven or long simmering on a stovetop. Crock pots are great, but there’s something about the flavor of a roast that’s been bubbling for hours in a dutch oven. Also, these clunky and usually heaven kitchen pieces can turn a big bird or thick piece of beef into a tender, fall-apart dinner favorite. That’s right – you don’t have to cut up the chicken or the beef roast before you cook it – just pop it into one of these babies with your favorites sides and let it simmer and soak up the flavor.
Before you get started planning a big meal to be cooked in your dutch oven, it’s worthwhile to consider your family’s tastes as well as health. Take a look at this course by a seasoned chef on how to incorporate healthy foods into your meal plans. There’s nothing really complicated about dutch oven cooking, but it would be helpful to have an idea of what foods will be tasty and good for you and your family.
Actually, you would be surprised at the foods that are now called “super foods” that would be great to cook in your dutch oven. These super foods are touted as foods that can actually help you rid your lifestyle of troublesome ailments, as well as the medications that are prescribed to ease them. This course highlights some of the foods that can ease blood pressure, for example. It’s quite fascinating and includes cooking demonstrations.
Choosing a Dutch Oven
Chances are that if you bought a set of cookware, there is a dutch oven, or smaller version of it, included in the package. These are perfect for indoor dutch oven cooking.
However, if you are looking for one for a camping trip or other outdoor adventure, or even to add to your inside cookware, there are some things that you should consider before buying a dutch oven. You can find them at your local camping equipment outlet, as well as department stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and even more high-end stores such as Macy’s. Chances are, though, the more heartier dutch ovens for outdoor use are better bought from an outdoors store.
And by the way, you can even check rummage sales and second-hand stores, as a good dutch oven for outdoor use will not be cheap if bought new. A good cast iron version for the outdoors will start at about $125 and run into $400 to $5oo, depending on your needs. For indoors, the cost is less, starting at about $50.
Look for these things when you are considering buying a dutch oven for use on the open flame outside. Some of these tips also apply to the indoor or stove/oven version.
- It should be made of cast iron.
- Check for chips, cracks, and imperfections and even rust spots.
- The lid should fit well, but not too tightly.
- Make sure it has a loop handle so you can easily pick it up.
One more thing: a dutch oven, especially the cast iron ones (if new) need to be treated before being put into use. This is good for the indoor type as well: rinse with hot water, no soap, and dry with a towel. Before using, wipe the surface with oil.
Dutch oven cooking is easy and healthy. It also affords you an opportunity to be creative. A lot of people just throw some meat and vegetables in, add their favorite seasoning and some kind of liquid (water works well!) and then cover it and pop it in the oven. A few hours later, you have a beautiful, steaming pot of tasty food. Check your favorite recipe for oven temperature and time.
However, this amazing pot has even more uses. For example, depending on the size of your dutch oven, you can cook your holiday turkey in it. Why pay money for a tin foil pan when you have a dutch oven ready to lock in the flavors of a turkey, goose, duck or even fish?
And don’t forget your dutch oven comes with a lid, so no more messy foils that aren’t wide enough to cover the bird anyway. Plus, it’s easier to bring your turkey to the table right in the dutch oven, rather than having to transfer it to a plate. And when the meal is over, cover it and store it in the refrigerator… and then pop it in the oven later or the next day to reheat.
You can also use dutch oven cooking for making a big pot of soup, as it can go over a gas flame or electric coil on top of the stove as well as in the oven. Some people use their dutch oven for deep frying, as it’s higher walls prevent the oil from splashing on the stove or even on the person cooking.
Stewing, boiling, simmering – whatever you need done to your meat and vegetables, the dutch oven can get it done. People even use it to make bakery items, such as bread. It’s very popular with cooks that are going to use beans as a base for dishes, especially soup.
Seafood lovers use the dutch oven to make dishes involving fish and clams. If you are hosting a clam bake, the dutch oven is the perfect tool to bring all the ingredients together.
The dutch oven is especially useful for larger families, family gatherings and cooking things that have multiple ingredients.
Dutch oven cooking is so popular that it even has its own society. It’s called the International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS) and it’s based in Utah. There are also versions in many states, such as Las Vegas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas – called the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society.
Dutch oven cooking is indeed popular with campers and people who love the outdoors, especially in the summer time with national parks and backyards are full of people cooking out.
But when the fall rolls around and a chill gets in the air, dutch ovens take on a whole new life as the tool of choice for soups and foods that are meant to warm you up inside. Check out this handy course on hot recipes for the fall. They may be especially useful for a gathering to watch the big football game or celebrate outdoors one more time before the snow falls.
Some folks have taken on the vegan lifestyle. Dutch oven cooking is for them, too. With its enclosed style of roasting vegetables, it can fast become a family favorite for those with a healthy diet in mind. Feast your eyes and taste buds on this course designed to familiarize you with vegan cooking.
For Some Guys, This Is For You
For the man that is trying to impress a lady with a nice home-cooked meal, dutch oven cooking can be your ticket. Or maybe you have been selected to provide the food for the crew for the big game on Sunday. Imagine how easy it can be to pop some ingredients into a dutch oven, put it in the oven or even on the grill, and go about your business for the next several hours. Your house will start to smell like a bistro and who wouldn’t love you for providing them with a tasty dish of simmered meat and vegetables? Learn some basic techniques of cooking so you can impress your dinner date or even your mom!
Dutch oven cooking is a way to end up with tasty and healthy results without a lot of effort.