Tools Spotlight: Dutch Ovens

The basic cooking vessels – a pot and a frying pan – can do a lot, there’s no doubt about it. However, as you learn to cook and develop your skill set, you’ll want to expand your collection of cooking tools, too. One of the best-loved kitchen accessories, which every cook will relish using, is the Dutch oven. Though you might associate the word “oven” with an appliance, this low-tech item will be something you reach for again and again.

Dutch ovens are round, deep and heavy cast-iron pots, and they invariably come with a lid (also cast iron). You can use them for everything from basic sautéing to braising, roasting and even baking. They sometimes carry a hefty price tag, but the cost is worth it. Dutch ovens are renowned for their longevity and are often passed down as heirlooms. They look equally beautiful on the stovetop and the tabletop (though you need to put down a trivet if you’re serving from one).

When shopping for a Dutch oven, you have a lot of choices. They come in a variety of sizes, but 5.5- to 6-quart pots are a good standard size. You’ll be able to fit in roasts, whole chickens or whatever else you want to cook. Try a chicken and smoked sausage gumbo to celebrate your newest kitchen staple. Many Dutch ovens are enameled, but others are raw cast iron. Enamel is a popular choice for its ease of cleaning and maintenance, but a non-enameled version will also allow you to deep fry (the extremely high oil heat and volume needed for deep frying could damage enamel).

A beautiful cast iron pot will serve you well for years and can even do double duty as a decor piece in your kitchen. Some cooks use them so much that they never put them away!


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