A Dutch oven is the most versatile cooking vessel in today’s kitchen just as it was 100 years ago. This humble vessel can be any heavy metal cooking pot with a tight fitting lid. Many high end pots are enamelized iron or solid copper but the most common are made of cast iron. Some have a flat bottom and some have legs enabling them to be set over hot coals. Granny’s oven was of the cast iron variety and was always noticeable on the stove, or in the kitchen sink since it was used daily at least once per day. The pot was stuffed into the station wagon as an essential item for the annual camping trip. Granny’s Dutch oven survived her and is probably sitting on somebody’s stove at this moment.
Dutch Oven Cooking covers a very broad range of cooking styles. It is perfect for any meal that would be cooked in a crock pot. The most important characteristics of a Dutch oven are the heavy metal construction which assures even heating and the tight fitting lid which allows for a good seal. The perfect pot roast is cooked in a Dutch oven because the meat can be seared first in the Dutch oven and then simmered. The flavoring left in the pan from the searing adds a special flavor that cannot be matched by any other cooking method. Dutch Oven Cooking includes a big pot of slow cooked creamy old fashioned oatmeal, or steamed vegetables.
If you don’t need it for some other dish, the Dutch oven doubles as a frying pan with a lid. The high sides prevent splatters. Dutch Oven Cooking can be done in a regular oven, or even with solar panels. The even heating qualities of the heavy metal and the advantages of a tight fitting lid keep heat inside the Dutch Oven. These characteristics make this pot the most adaptable cooking utensil in existence. The handles of this oven should be metal, or the same material that the pot is made of so it can be placed a hot oven.
Dutch Oven Cooking using a cast iron pot releases traces of iron in the food. The small amounts of iron released by cooking actually add nutrition to the food. The downside of the cast iron is that it does slightly discolor white foods such as boiled eggs, potatoes or rice which some cooks find it objectionable. Enameled, copper or stainless steel cooking pots do not discolor food but they do get chipped or dented with rough treatment. In all likelihood, Dutch Oven Cooking in pots over 100 years old can only be done in cast iron pots but their rustic appearance may not compliment fancy dinnerware.