I will say this right upfront: the dutch oven is misunderstood. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have these beautiful and colorful dutch ovens in their kitchen and are able to count on one hand the amount of times they have used it (that’s if they have used it at all!). There seems to be this phenomena occurring where people know that a dutch oven is a great piece of cooking equipment to own, but never get around to using it.
This, my friends, is truly unfortunate as my trusty dutch oven is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware in my kitchen arsenal and I use it weekly to whip up awesome meals and tasty treats. Today, I set out to convince you to dust off that Le Creuset, show you a few reasons why the dutch oven is an asset in any kitchen, and give this historical piece of cookware the love it deserves.
Awesome One-Pot Meals
I know that when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is orchestrate, and then clean up, a 4 or 5 pan dinner in the kitchen. A lot of recipes I find that look great call for so much preparation that many times I just skip them altogether. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, but after a long day I’m looking for as little work as possible, and this is where the dutch oven comes in to save the day. The heavy weight of the dutch oven makes it ideal for browning or searing meat, which means it creates a super tasty crust of little bits that are left behind for flavoring the ingredients to follow. After everything is in, just transfer it to the oven and let it get extra tender and wonderful. Best of all, you have used just one pot the whole time. Check out some of these recipes if you’re looking for some inspiration.
No-Fuss Homemade Baked Bread
This is one that might surprise you. The dutch oven is uniquely qualified to bake up some delicious, perfectly soft bread without the need to knead (pun indented). You see, by placing the dough in a dutch oven and covering it, you have the perfect synergy between the massive heat of the oven and the moisture of the bread trapped inside the covered vessel, which creates an amazing crust and perfectly soft interior. Trust me, this recipe is some of the best bread I have ever tried and I made it in my own kitchen in only a few hours. You can use it for sandwiches, a hearty toast in the morning with your coffee or just warmed up with some butter.
Soups, Stews and Braises, Oh My!
As we learned earlier, the dutch oven is well suited for braising meats because of it’s thick construction, but this also makes it ideal for simmering too. When simmering, the durable dutch oven will keep your liquid at a consistent temperature which can mean only one thing: homemade soups and stews. The dutch oven is able to intensify the flavor of these dishes by giving you the ability to layer in the ingredients. Not only does this fall in line with our theme of one pot convenience, but there are literally countless recipes you can find that are sure to satisfy any soupy craving you might develop. This simple beef and vegetable soup is a personal favorite and incredibly easy to put together.
Huge Dutch Oven Cookies
You didn’t think this whole list was going to be super healthy, did you? Ask yourself this question: what’s better than a cookie? Want to know my answer? It’s a giant cookie. The idea behind the amazing giant dutch oven cookie could not be more simple. Just press a batch of cookie dough into your pot in an even layer, bake it until it’s golden, and then top it with ice cream, marshmallows, or whatever else your heart desires. I usually make this when I have friends coming over but it’s also awesome for unveiling at a dinner party.
Hopefully you feel a little more confident about going all in with that dutch oven that’s been sitting on the back of your kitchen shelf. The above were just a few examples of how to get creative, but it’s far from the whole picture. I didn’t even go into the overnight French toast recipe! No go out there and get cooking!
Remy Bernard is the Owner and Editor at Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes. A baker, chef and writer, Remy started missmamiescupakes.com as a way to deepen and spread her passion for making delicious food.