Dutch/French Ovens

n2cookinFebruary 25, 2008

Seems everyone loves these and I'm considering getting one. I cook more stovetop/crockpot these days, because I don't exactly know what all to make in the oven. Tell me what you make in these pots. Like maybe smothered steak and roasts and roasting a chicken?

DH and I got into Dutch oven camp cooking last year, but that seems different as it's over coals instead. Would I cook the same things here, only in the oven? If so, how do you know what temp and how long? Do you keep checking it? Seems like working fulltime necessitates quick fix items and we tend to get away from using the oven as much.

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Their strong point is braising; browning meats and then adding liquid for long slow cooking. This long slow cooking can be done on top of the stove or in the oven.

They can also be used for whatever stovetop application you have that needs a pot of that size--making spaghetti sauce, soup, stock, whatever. But I'll often start something on top of the stove and put it in the oven to finish; the beauty of the closed dutch/french oven is that it's very forgiving and a lot of dishes do well (sometimes better) with very little attention.

An extreme example of the 'set it and forget it' application is Tony Bordain's recipe I posted a while back for 'Seven Hour Leg of Lamb'. In it you start the ingredients and put it in a very slow oven for 7 hours. Absolutely foolproof, absolutely delicious. Here's my posting of that recipe:

I have posted this a few times in the past; it's perfect for no-fuss really good food. And it's convenient for a casual dinner because you do all the work seven hours before serving and you don't do anything at all to the dish for seven hours--so you have the freedom to do other stuff when the guests arrive.

I love lamb nice and pink, medium rare-ish, but that ain't the way a lot of the world approaches lamb. Many cultures want it well done and juicy; before you throw up your hands and say 'no way', consider this recipe.

There is a French bistro dish called "Gigot de sept heures"--yes, that's "Seven hour leg of lamb". I first ran across this in Anthony Bourdain's "Les Halles Cookbook". The first time I fixed it there were two teenagers in my house who claimed they didn't like lamb. Suffice it to say there were no leftovers. Bourdain makes the comment that when it's done, you should be able to cut it with a spoon.
Like all common recipes, there are variations: but it's basically a braise in a heavy casserole dish. I used a deep cast iron Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, and it worked great. Season the lamb with slivers of garlic, sear it, add liquid and vegetables, cover the pot, put it in a slow oven and DON'T PEEK for seven hours. Omigod, is it good--and easy!!
This is a perfect dish for a day when you have a lot of laundry or housework to do. You gotta be in the house anyway, so may as well have a no-stress supper cooking while you're doing other work. You put it in the oven after brunch, then do whatever you need to do, and after seven hours you have some juicy and scrumptious lamb. A half hour before serving, cook up some noodles or something to catch the juices.
Here's Bourdain's version. The only liberties I take with it is to brown the meat prior to putting in the other goodies, and since I have a very tight fitting casserole I don't bother with the flour seal. You can also use a little more wine if you want. The garlic cooks down so its not overpowering; do use at least the amount it calls for.

1 leg of lamb, about 6#
4 garlic cloves, sliced, plus 20 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
2 small onions, thinly sliced
4 carrots, peeled
1 bouquet garni
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup flour, 1 cup water
Preheat oven to 300 F. Make many small incisions in lamb, place slivers of garlic in each incision. Rub lamb well with olive oil, season with salt & pepper. (At this point I would brown the lamb on all sidesÂbut thatÂs not necessary.) Place it in Dutch oven and add onions, carrots, bouquet garni, garlic, wine. Put lid on Dutch oven. Combine flour and water, make a 'caulk' and use it to seal the lid to the dutch oven. Place it in the 300 degree oven and cook for 7 hours. Yes, 7 hours. NO PEEKING--leave it alone.
Remove the Dutch oven and break the seal. You don't have to eat the cooked flour paste.
That's it. About a half hour to an hour of prep, then you leave it the heck alone for 7 hours. It's nearly foolproof. Serve it with whatever else you want, and a medium bodied red wine goes quite well with this (say, a nice Zinfandel) but a dry white (such as the remainder of the bottle you opened to get the cup of wine in the recipe) is fine as well if that's your preference. Bon appetit!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 4:49PM
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I had 2 enamled cast iron le creuset D.O. a mid size one and a large one. They were my 2 favorite things in the kitchen full of facny equipment I lost (they were actually my foodie Xs)

They make great roast veggies, Roast Chicken. the high hot walls are great for meatloaf (moist with a great crust everytime) I used them to make pasta sauce which I would start on the stovetop and slow cook for hours.

they were essential to my cranberry sauce recepie

basically anything you want to cook for a long time and not burn or dry out.

I miss them most of all the high end cookware . (I got left with one Whustof santoku knife)

I just got a vintage cast iron 8" from ebay cant wait to open it up it is sitting under my desk.

I love the things cant wait to replace the Le Creuset they are sort of pricey so I am keeping my eye out for a deal...

beautiful stuff though and easy to maintain

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 3:26PM
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Love my Le Creuset! Amazon has the 7 1/2 quart round in cherry red for $179.99 and the 5 1/2 quart for $159.99. Hurry though as these prices could go back up at any minute!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Here is the 5 1/2 quart!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:19AM
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Thanks for the tip! I just ordered the 5 1/2 quart.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:37PM
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Glad you were able to get it on sale velodoug. The price is back up today.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 4:09PM
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Amazon has the 8 qt. Staub as a Gold Box special today only at $179.99 shipped in many colors. It's usually $259.99, and a better deal than the Le Creuset. Click on the gold box on top of the home page!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 3:18PM
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