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If you have never heard of a Dutch oven, you are definitely missing out! This amazingly versatile piece of cookware can truly do it all… From braising to brewing and even baking! Traditionally, this heavy-duty pot was used for slow cooking meat and veggies, but once you try it, you’ll realize you can truly use it for anything.
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What is a Dutch Oven?
A dutch oven is basically a large, heavy-duty cooking pot with a matching lid. Dutch ovens are traditionally made of cast iron, though nowadays it’s possible to find some made of cast aluminum. The cast iron is the perfect material for Dutch ovens because it provides even heat distribution.
Moreover, a Dutch oven features a thick layer of cast iron which has really high heat retention properties. It might take a long time to get hot, but once it does, it will stay that way. Once you get the Dutch oven to the right temperature, you won’t need a lot of heat to keep the food cooking which makes Dutch ovens very energy-efficient too!
Now, you might have heard that cast iron is difficult to clean. The truth is, it’s not that difficult, you just need to care for your cast iron cookware in a specific way. Cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned before use to prevent rust, and it should never be cleaned with soap or put in the dishwasher. Other than that, the cleaning process is really easy – you just need to wipe the residue off.
See also: How to clean a dutch oven
On the other hand, some cast iron Dutch ovens come with enamel coating on the inside. However, enamel can get damaged, and start chipping off. If this happens your dutch oven is basically ruined. Furthermore, the enamel is usually white, and white it’s starts changing color, there is no going back. If this matters to you, maybe the good old cast iron is the way to go after all. However, these are not major setbacks and many cooks swear by their enamel-coated Dutch ovens.
Dutch ovens come with leads that are tightly fitted and equally heavy. This allows them to prevent any heat loss and keep the steam inside.
In our opinion, the best thing about Dutch ovens is the fact that they can be used with almost any heat source. You can place one on the stovetop, in the oven, on a grill with the hood down, even above a campfire (Dutch ovens used for camping usually have short legs attached to the bottom).
Now that you understand the basics of a Dutch oven, let’s move on to our main topic today.
How exactly do you use a dutch oven inside a conventional oven?
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How to Use a Dutch Oven in a Conventional Oven
Using a Dutch oven inside a conventional oven actually comes with some advantages compared to other methods. First of all, when you use your Dutch oven on a stovetop, the heat comes only from the bottom.
When you use it inside a conventional oven, the Dutch oven gets heated evenly from all sides which gives you perfect results! Furthermore, when you use your Dutch oven you inside a conventional oven you actually save energy, since this heavy pot retains heat really well and keeps the food cooking longer with less heat.
Dutch ovens can be used in literally any type of oven, not just the conventional types. Convection ovens, gas ovens, electric ovens, solar ovens – you name it, a Dutch oven can go inside. The only place where your Dutch oven should never go is the microwave.
When cooking with a Dutch oven, the key is to maintain a steady temperature that is not too high. Inside the pot, the heat should remain around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a food thermometer to check the temperature if you like, but with a bit of practice, you can also learn how to keep the temperature in the right range without using a thermometer.
In order to start cooking, you always need to preheat your oven to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. With some recipes, you will also need to start by preheating your Dutch oven on the stovetop. For example, if the recipe calls for braising, you can start by searing your meat right in the Dutch oven on the stovetop, and then move it to the oven once all the ingredients are inside.
An important thing to keep in mind when cooking with a Dutch oven is the fact that they are really heavy. Therefore, always be extremely careful when taking it out of the oven.
Using a Dutch oven inside a conventional oven brings you a whole range of possibilities. Your imagination is really the only limit. Braising is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a Dutch oven, but it’s also perfect for making all kinds of stews, for example. Just preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and let your stew simmer. You can even lower the temperature after a while, and the stew will keep gently simmering.
Furthermore, a Dutch oven also works quite nicely for roasting large pieces of meat. Keeping the lid on will trap the moisture in and thus keep the meat moist, but you can also remove the lid if you are looking for a crispy finish. Potatoes baked in a Dutch oven are also amazing!
A lesser known fact is that Dutch ovens can also be used for baking. In fact, bread baked in a dutch oven is unlike anything you have tried before. Finally, since they are quite thick and sturdy, Dutch ovens can stand high heat reasonably well which makes deep frying inside them possible.
Overall, a Dutch oven is an investment that is definitely worth the price.