Why does one need a dutch oven?

mmkmmkApril 2, 2008

Pardon my ignorance, but I have been married 23 years and never had a dutch oven.

Never really knew I was missing out on anything by not having one until I came to this board looking for info on new pots and pans. My mother never had one (and never had a pressure cooker either) and so that is probably why I never thought I was missing out on anything.

Please - educate me. I really am curious. :)

Also what type of reasonably priced - not over $200 - pots should I get for a gas range. Mine are, yep, 23 years old!

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What do you cook a pot roast in? How about beef stew? Chicken and dumplings?
How about chili?
And that's why you need a good heavy dutch oven.
My mother had one as did both grandmothers and at least one great grandmother that I know of. And my MIL had one and my daughter and my son...
If I had to give up all pots and pans but one, the one I would keep is my Dutch oven.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 12:22AM
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I would cook chili in the large pot that came with my set. Anthing in larger amounts, I would cook in my 10 quart stainless pot. My mother was not an adventurous cook because my father would only eat meat and pototoes. I like expanding my horizons, I just need to know why. :)


    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 8:15AM
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I'd be interested on the "whys" for that, too. Again, my mom didn't have one, so I guess I don't know what I'm missing.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 8:21AM
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Their strong point is long slow cooking. Here's a thread that discussed this very point.

In that thread, check out one of my favorite comfort food recipes, "Gigot a sept heures"--seven hour leg of lamb. Yum.

Here is a link that might be useful: dutch oven thread

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 11:33AM
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A good heavy Dutch oven allows you to brown meat and veggies in the pan and add veggies and cooking liquid and cook on top of the stove or you can put it into the oven. The reason it's called a Dutch oven is because it's economical because it holds the heat so well.
It's also called a French oven, because long slow tough cuts of meat turn out so well cooked in one.
MMK I repeat...what do you use to cook a pot roast or a long simmered beef ster? How about chicken and dumplings?
I think everyone needs a good heavy Dutch oven...I have 4!
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 9:48PM
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I use my Le Creuset dutch oven(s) constantly - for roast, spaghetti/marinara sauces, shrimp creole, soups, chili. A dutch oven is superior for anything you want to slow cook. It's a great investment. Knock-offs and seconds sold at TJ Maxx, Target, etc. perform about as well as the pricey Le Creuset and Staub IMO and experience. Start with a round or oval dutch oven and you can add from there. Try it- you'll love it.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 11:06AM
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One probably doesn't "need" one - I never had one until recently. I didn't have any heavy pot that could go from cooktop to oven and I wanted to make something that called for that kind of preparation. Now that I have one piece of Le Creuset it has become my favorite piece of cookware - for chili, spaghetti sauce, etc. I don't "need" it for that though - I have other pots that work just as well. I just don't like them as well - hard to explain.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 11:39PM
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Lodge makes very high quality yet inexpensive cast iron cookware and has been doing so for well over 100 years. You can buy their unseasoned cookware and season it yourself which I do or you can buy their pre-seasoned cookware to skip this step, either way, it will get better with age. I usually season mine in the oven with Crisco in 2 sessions of an hour and a half each at 500 degrees and get a beautiful black that you dream about with cast iron.

In addition to the use cases for dutch ovens listed above, I'll add that they make wonderful additions to the fireplace and campfire for cooking. I've turned out top rate dishes in my three-leg, cast iron Lodge dutch oven over a bed of coals. Try that with any other non-cast iron cookware and you'll destroy it. The heat is even, the material is second to none for searing meat and cleanup is a breeze.

As for cleaning... My cast iron rarely sees water and never ever soap. I just scrape with a plastic scrapper, oil and wipe while the pan is still warm to the touch. Seasoned cast iron without an enamel coating should not be used to cook highly acidic food or store foods.

In terms of utility cast iron is hard to beat. When Lewis and Clark set out on their epic journey across the American landscape they commented on how the dutch oven/cast iron pot was the single most useful/valuable thing they carried with them. I take mine camping and it is worth every ounce of weight I have to carry. In the indoor kitchen, the value proposition is even greater because you aren't moving it around so much. If you are cooking acidic stuff or boiling or steaming, stick with the enameled cast iron but for everything else the seasoned stuff is great and inexpensive. I got my Lodge 12" skillet for $20. I don't think I've paid over $45 for any of my cast iron. But if the food is highly acidic or you like the enamel colors from Staub, LeCrueset etc then prepare to bend over and open wallet wide.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lodge Cast Iron Cookware Site

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 9:51AM
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While I have many pieces of cast iron and love using them, my Le Creuset French oven has an enamel interior and exterior and does not rust or react with acidic foods like pickles or tomato sauces. Those two reasons: 1)no rusting and 2) non-reactive are two very important reasons to have an enameled French/Dutch oven.

There is just me in the house now and I use my 3.5 qt. Le Creuset oven so much that I usually just leave it sitting out on the stove top.

You can sometimes find good deals on the more expensive pots or you can try a knock-off or second. If the pan is heavy cast iron and you take care not to chip the enamel, you should have good results with a less expensive brand.

My uses: chili, soup, No Knead Bread, tomato sauce, pot roast, roast chicken, stews, beans, chutney, jam, applesauce, relish, large batch of rice or barley, cooking greens, chicken and dumplings, marmalade, small amount of noodles or pasta, steaming vegetables (using a collapsible rack), etc., etc.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Just purchased another dutch oven from Cabela's last weekend. I now have 4 of them. My first two were given to me several years ago and are at least 45 years old. I also have 4 cast iron fry pans that are also pushing 50.

You can cook anything from stew to pizza to cornish games hens in them. My favorite is apple or peach cobbler made with spice cake mix. And the new one is black forest cake with cherries!!

I have never washed them. Just burn them clean, scrape them out and gently coat them with canola oil. A quality dutch oven will last a life time. I consider them a must for any kitchen.

I use mine on campouts, in the kitchen and on the grill.

Enjoy the journey.

eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 8:05PM
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