and how does it differ from a heavy pot with lid? (lol, not a cook here, obviously!)
I guess it depends on how heavy a pot with a lid you are talking about. The dutch ovens I have had are VERY heavy, either cast iron or enameled iron, and they have tight-fitting, heavy lids. They hold heat very well and the lids prevent the moisture from escaping. They also either have had rings or spikes on the inside of the lid, so that water, once it condenses, is forced to drip back down on the food instead of just hanging around up there in the lid.
FWIW, Le Creuset calls their dutch ovens "French Ovens." They are made of cast iron with enameled surfaces outside and inside. They're pricey but very worth it. I think Staub now has a line that is similar but less expensive.
You can find cast iron dutch ovens for much less money, but they take a little more effort to maintain. Lodge is a good brand in new cast iron. Old dutch ovens can be found at flea markets and yard sales. They can be scrubbed well or even sandblasted to remove any rust, then re-seasoned. With regular cast iron, you need to clean carefully with hot water, a brush and very little, if any soap to preserve the seasoned finish. And you don't put cast iron into the dishwasher. I don't even put my Le Creuset in the DW.
Originally called a Dutch oven, because you can cook on top of the stove and the food comes out like it was in the oven.
The old dutch ovens had a ridge around the top of the lid where you could put coals from the fire....and set the pot down on a spider over the fire.....so things cooked from the top as well as from the bottom.
The picture in the link is a new one....but old style.
Here is a link that might be useful:
Lindac: Thanks for the fascinating info.
thanks, all! just the info i was looking for! mol
You've never had good food until you've come back to camp from a cold day hunting and dug the dutch oven out of the pile of coals and ashes you heaped on it, opened it, and found a perfectly cooked venison stew.
You then fire up the fire and in another dutch oven make a quick batch of biscuits or spoon bread.
While you're eating, the peach cobbler is cooking in a third dutch oven.
All of this is washed down with loads of hot coffee, and it's all eaten while sitting around a blazing camp fire with some of your best friends.
When you're all too fat and too happy to move, that's when the stinking trophy buck decides to walk through camp to see what's going on.
Wake up Kframe! You're snoring! lol
(It sounded like a dream, to me, 'cept for the venison part. I can't handle venison. Can we hunt cows instead?...the elusive cow)