Dutch ovens

Dutch ovens are revered for their supreme heat retention, self-basting lids and enamel coating that makes them easier to clean without the need for seasoning. 

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The best Dutch ovens explained

A Dutch oven is a deep cast iron pot with a moisture-locking lid which can be used for cooking both on the stovetop and in the oven. Home cooks turn to this type of cookware because of its versatility, excellent heat retention and even heat distribution. There are many different price points when browsing the Dutch oven range, with affordability varying based on size, quality and craftsmanship. You might be familiar with signature brands like Le Creuset or Chasseur that bring generations of European expertise to the cast iron arena. Because of their robust nature, any Dutch oven purchase is an investment in a long-lasting kitchen faithful.

Dutch oven vs casserole dish

Dutch ovens are generally made of either seasoned or enamelled cast iron whereas casserole dishes, while also often made from cast iron, are also made of glass or stoneware. Like Dutch ovens, casserole dishes are oven safe, but unlike Dutch ovens they cannot be used for stovetop cooking. Plus, Dutch ovens can be a statement piece in the kitchen, often featuring a gorgeous coloured enamel coating so it can double as a serving dish. They are a highly versatile investment piece that will have you effortlessly moving from the stove, to the oven, to the table.

Dutch oven vs French oven

Dutch ovens and French ovens share the same shape and general aesthetic. In fact, a French oven (also known as a cocotte) is a form of round Dutch oven, with the main point of difference being the construction. While most Dutch ovens are made of cast iron, they are not necessarily made of enamelled cast iron, instead they can be constructed from seasoned cast iron or other materials like stainless steel. However, a French oven exclusively refers to a cast iron pot with an enamel coating. It is this enamel coating that was made famous by premium French made brands like Le Creuset and Chasseur, both with origins dating back to the 1920s. Still, to this day, these brands create exquisite handcrafted and hand painted cookware, ensuring each home cook around the world has their very own unique cast iron piece.

Tips for cooking with enamelled cast iron

Here are our top tips for cooking with an enamelled cast iron Dutch oven:

  1. Use it on any kitchen stovetop or in the oven up to 250C.

  2. Increase heat gradually. Instant high heat can shock the enamel and crack it.

  3. For best results cook on a low to medium heat.

  4. Use oils or butter to stop food from sticking to the surface.

  5. Never slide it across your stovetop, alway pick it up to protect the base.

  6. When cleaning, allow the Dutch oven to completely cool before immersing in water. Scrub lightly with non-abrasive sponges or scrubbers.

Factors to consider when choosing a Dutch oven

  • Material: Is it naturally non-stick? Is it enamelled or seasoned? Will it require seasoning or extra care?

  • Size: Though there are multiple options to choose from, the standard size of a Dutch oven ranges from 5 to 6.7 litres, with diameter ranging from 24 to 28cm.

  • Weight: Cast iron Dutch ovens can be heavy even when empty. Consider how easy it will be to lift once filled with your favourite ingredients.

  • Colour choices: With a wide range of colours to select from, you’re bound to find one that best matches your kitchen decor. Or why not add a few to your wishlist to mix and match later.

  • Design: Are the handles easy to grip? Does the lid have a knob or a handle?

  • Care: Be sure to check whether your Dutch oven is dishwasher safe or requires hand washing only.

  • Warranty: Does it come with a lifetime warranty? This can provide peace of mind when making an investment.

The different uses of a Dutch oven

Cast iron cookware is commonly known for housing slow cooked, one pot meals because of its ability to maintain temperature control. But thanks to an ingenious self-basting design, Dutch ovens can create many more dishes than you might think. The sturdy cast iron lid of a Dutch oven seals tight and traps steam, and usually features dimples or rings on the underside which return moisture droplets to the food in the pot. Yes, this makes braising and stewing almost effortless, but this moisture-locking system also creates a perfect environment for baking bread. In addition to its ability to slow cook for hours, we can’t overlook the benefits of searing and sauteing in a Dutch oven, too, as the enamelled surface can withstand heat and deglaze with ease.

Brands we know and trust

Glassware such as wine and martini glasses are especially delicate and prone to breaking due to their long stems. These glasses are safer to wash by hand to prevent any accidental snaps or chips. Stemless glasses, such as rocks glasses, are generally dishwasher safe. You can prevent unsightly fingerprints on stemmed cocktail glasses by always holding them by the stem.

  • Le Creuset. Famed for its heirloom quality and array of vibrant colours, Le Creuset French Ovens are the ultimate investment piece and feature three layers of enamel coating for exceptional durability.

  • Chasseur. Chasseur also produces enamelled cast iron made in France just like Le Creuset, but instead of three layers of enamel it generally has just two layers. Chasseur products are slightly more affordable, but also slightly heavier than Le Creuset.

  • Lodge. A Lodge Dutch oven is made of quality cast iron from the USA. Lodge cast iron is known to be exceptionally durable and their seasoned cast iron or raw cast iron pots can be used on the stove, oven, grill or campfire because they are not enamelled; therefore there is no need to worry about the enamel cracking over high heat.

FAQs:

What is special about a Dutch oven?

As well as being a sturdy vessel that can move from the stovetop to the oven, a Dutch Oven’s ability to retain heat, coupled with its appealing design, truly makes it a one pot wonder. It’s a great dish to serve large family meals like pasta, soup and braised meat because food stays hot and ready to eat long after the stove has been turned off. Just be sure to use a trivet when plating up directly from the table or benchtop.

What is the difference between a Dutch oven and a crock pot?

While both have the ability to slow cook, a crock pot is an electrical appliance whereas a cast iron round Dutch oven is a standalone piece of cookware that can be used on the stove or in the oven. A Dutch oven is also made using cast iron material, while a crock pot is made of porcelain.

What are the benefits of cooking with cast iron?

Dutch ovens are made from cast iron, and are either seasoned raw cast iron or coated with enamel, with both options providing a tough cooking surface that retains and distributes heat quickly and effectively. Because of its robust nature, cast iron is great for frying and searing and can support braises and stews on the stovetop for hours. Cast iron is also extremely durable, so by purchasing a Dutch oven, you are investing in a piece of cookware that will last for years to come.

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