So, what is a Dutch oven, exactly? Is it Dutch at all? What can I cook in it? These are some of the most common questions that pop up regarding this cooking vessel. Join us as we dive deep into the world of Dutch ovens and unearth some fascinating facts.
What is a Dutch oven?
A Dutch oven is a heavy cast iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is sturdy and designed for cooking over an open fire or in the oven. The lid traps steam inside the pot, which helps the food cook and preserves its moisture - a feature that is especially helpful for preparing meats and stews.
What can I make in a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are ideal for foods that can heat for many hours, such as beans, meats, and even breads.
An advantage of Dutch ovens is that they can be used for either stovetop cooking or in the oven. Originally, Dutch ovens were made purely from cast iron so they could be used over open fires.
Modern Dutch ovens are made from enamelled cast iron, so they have a more attractive and colourful exterior - perfect for bringing food straight from the oven to the table.
Why is it called a Dutch oven?
Americans trace the origin of Dutch ovens to the Pennsylvania Dutch, a group of settlers who emigrated to the United States from Germany during the 17th century, according to Larousse Gastronomique. The term ‘Dutch’ referred to the language spoken by the immigrants.
However, where did the Pennsylvania Dutch get their pots from? This question leads us to an Englishman named Abraham Darby.
Darby, a talented ironmaster, had visited the Netherlands to study the casting process used in the production of brass cookware, which had smooth surfaces unlike any he had seen before.
Inspired by this innovation, Darby returned home and experimented with iron, which was more economical than brass. He called this newly designed pot a ‘Dutch oven’ and patented his casting process in 1708.
Darby’s innovations would pave the way to Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
Popular brands of Dutch ovens
Different brands of Dutch ovens have popped up throughout the years, some pricier than others, but the true crème de la crème are those produced by Le Creuset, a French stoneware company famous for its line of colourful enamelled cast iron cookware.
Purchasing a Le Creuset piece is an investment. A modest Dutch oven from the company can cost upwards of $300 but it will last a lifetime.
Other popular brands to consider are Lodge, Staub, and celebrity lines like Martha Stewart.
If cast iron isn’t your thing then you’ll be pleased to know Calphalon makes a stainless-steel Dutch oven and All Clad produces - get this - an electric Dutch oven.
DUTCH OVEN BREAD RECIPES
Baking bread in a Dutch oven is a very popular use, as the steam that accumulates on the lid helps breads to rise. You could make a variety of breads including sourdough, scones, and quick breads like banana bread.
No-knead bread dutch oven
If you are new to bread baking, why not begin your journey with a no-knead Dutch oven bread? All you’ll need is flour, water, yeast, salt, a bit of oil and some time. This quick video recipe from Tasty shows you how to bake the no-knead Dutch oven bread of your dreams. Enjoy!
Dutch Oven Jalapeño Bread
Another can’t-miss Dutch oven bread recipe is this beauty, prepared with cheese and jalapeño peppers - the perfect indulgence for spice lovers.
DUTCH OVEN MEAT RECIPES
Pulled pork in a Dutch oven
Pulled pork is a delicacy in itself, but preparing it in a Dutch oven takes things to the next level. When cooking the pork, the juices will concentrate and accumulate on the lid, then slowly trickle down into the meat, basting it with flavour and goodness.
Ready to give Dutch oven pulled pork a try? Here is a fabulous recipe from Food Network’s Ree Drumond, aka Pioneer Woman. It cooks for a full six hours in a Dutch oven so it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday:
Dutch oven pot roast
Perhaps no roast is more succulent than one made in a Dutch oven. Juicy meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender can be a reality in just a few hours. Here’s a step-by-step video tutorial for making an old fashioned pot roast in a Dutch oven:
Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken
A dry rub and plenty of butter make this roasted chicken a delight. It’s a great Dutch oven recipe for camping or for making at home. Take a look:
DUTCH OVEN CAMPING RECIPES
When American pioneers ventured out West they brought their Dutch ovens with them to cook along the way. Beans, beef stew, gravy, biscuits and cornbread became staple foods - all of which are ideal for camping under the stars.
Here are a few Dutch oven camping recipes you can try next time you find yourself in the great outdoors:
Dutch Oven Apple Pie
This is the ultimate camping dessert that will get you lots of oohs and ahhs. This apple pie is completely cooked in a Dutch oven - all that is required is making the pie crust at home before heading to camp. Check it out:
Dutch oven nachos are a fun snack to make while camping. Youtuber Amandaoutside shows you how to make them:
Tips for Dutch oven cooking while camping
Dutch oven cooking in the great outdoors is an art form. You’ll want to skip the enamelled cast iron pots if you will be cooking over an open fire. Classic cast iron Dutch ovens are ideal for this purpose, as their exterior will not fade or get damaged by direct flames.
Dutch ovens made specifically for camping are equipped with legs so they can be elevated over coals and a handle so you can hang them over an open fire.
Another nice option for campfire cooking is a Dutch oven made from hard-anodised aluminium because it is lighter and easier to carry.
Don’t have a Dutch oven?
Many Dutch oven recipes can be replicated using a stainless-steel pan equipped with a stainless-steel lid. When baking, do not use a glass-topped lid in the oven, as the high temperature may lead to cracking. Instead, line the top of your pot with foil and you’ll be all set for your improvised Dutch oven.