Editor’s Word: In her month-to-month kitchen suggestions column, recipe developer and meals author Casey Barber shares her strategies and tweaks to make your meals higher.


Earlier than there have been Crock-Pots and Immediate Pots, gradual cookers and air fryers, there was the Dutch oven. A multipurpose pot that has been a workhorse for cooks for hundreds of years, it is without doubt one of the most helpful, versatile items of kitchen gear one can personal.

There are a number of types of Dutch ovens available on the market, and sure you’re most accustomed to the brightly coloured, enameled forged iron variations which have graced many a stovetop over time. High quality comes at a worth, with many Dutch ovens costing greater than $100, so it might fairly be thought of an funding piece. However its versatility makes up for the preliminary value, and your return on that funding will span many years.

Right here’s why I really like my Dutch ovens — sure, ovens plural; I personal a couple of totally different sizes — and why you must too.

The higher query may be “what can’t you do with a Dutch oven?” and I’m truthfully hard-pressed to think about a solution. You’ll be able to sauté and sear elements, simmer and poach, boil and braise, fry and even bake in a Dutch oven. On the threat of sounding repetitive, this pot can be utilized for practically something.

The form and building of a Dutch oven is what makes it so versatile. (Extra on that beneath.) It’s received a heavy, broad backside and excessive sides, so it may deal with elements in giant portions — the most important spherical Le Creuset mannequin holds 13 quarts! — and prepare dinner them evenly. It’s designed to retain warmth and, with its sturdy lid, preserve moisture in.

These traits are what make a Dutch oven the pure alternative for slow-cooked stews and different dishes that decision for braising more durable cuts of meat for lengthy durations of time. Use one to make falling-off-the-bone-tender meals like pulled pork or beef stew, meat sauces like Bolognese or any kind of chili — these old school, comforting dishes are simply as succulent as they have been within the days when cooks made them in an open hearth with their Dutch ovens.

However if you need a fast, one-pot meal, a Dutch oven can also be your go-to. One-pot pastas and comparable dishes like rice and beans or spicy rooster and noodles can simply be made with the oven, from begin to end.

For those who’ve at all times been intimidated by deep frying at house, let a Dutch oven ease your thoughts. Deep frying in your stovetop isn’t as troublesome as you’d assume — the heavy oven retains oil at a continuing temperature and its excessive sides preserve splatter to a minimal. Strive making home made fries therein and have a steak frites night with an help out of your forged iron skillet.

A bread and butter — and bread-making — kitchen staple? The Dutch oven.

You’ll be able to even bake bread in a Dutch oven. There are a selection of variations of no-knead bread recipes, however the primary gist is {that a} gradual, chilly rise helps the bread develop taste and texture, and the Dutch oven works like a steam oven to create the bread’s signature crust.

And whereas I don’t flip to my Dutch oven for baking muffins and pastries like my ancestors doubtless did, I do use it for one crucial and beloved dessert: Rice Krispie treats! The even heating and excessive sides of my largest Dutch oven make it easy to soften butter and marshmallows over low warmth and stir in cups of cereal with out shedding a grain.

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As you’d anticipate from a pot first developed within the seventeenth century, Dutch ovens are constructed to face up to warmth and maintain it in for a protracted time frame. The unique Dutch ovens — which, as their identify suggests, have been tailored from a metal-casting methodology invented within the Netherlands — have been made out of forged iron.

And that’s nonetheless the case for a lot of of at present’s fashions: The colourful forged iron Dutch ovens made by manufacturers like Le Creuset, Staub and Lodge are venerable and dependable, and have an enameled coating for a pure nonstick end that additionally sears and browns elements. (The enameling can also be soap-friendly for simple cleanup.) Over time, the end could discolor with heavy use, however the darkening doesn’t have an effect on the efficiency of the pan.

Newer cookware firms additionally make lighter-weight Dutch ovens, substituting out forged iron for aluminum and coating pots in ceramic nonstick finishes. Aluminum heats extra shortly than forged iron, however it doesn’t retain warmth as successfully. For those who’re utilizing your Dutch oven as a serving vessel or to maintain your soup heat off the range, aluminum received’t maintain the warmth for lengthy.

Nonetheless, if the concept of lifting a 15-pound forged iron Dutch oven stuffed with effervescent sizzling stew isn’t one thing you are feeling comfy with, then one in every of these extra fashionable choices should still be the higher alternative. In spite of everything, a pot you don’t need to use isn’t a worthwhile funding.

My private Dutch oven arsenal consists of two flame Le Creuset fashions (3 1/2 quart and seven 1/4 quart) that I’ve owned for greater than a decade, in addition to a footed, non-enameled forged iron Dutch oven for campfire cooking. It’s uncommon per week goes by with out one in every of these dishes on my range, and after regular, heavy use, they’re no worse for the wear and tear.

I’m additionally in possession of a bunch of oven mitts and trivets to verify nothing round my kitchen, together with my palms and arms, will get scorched from the warmth coming off them. For cleansing, I at all times hand-wash, utilizing a non-abrasive cleaner when crucial for any stuck-on browned bits.

Purchase it as soon as, adore it endlessly: a Dutch oven is the low-maintenance pot you’ll use for a lifetime.