Call it a Dutch oven, a cocotte, a casserole dish, or a cast iron pan -- just don't underestimate it.
Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe has amassed a serious following. You just stir and then bake -- no kneading, no shaping, and very little room for error. The steam from the Dutch oven creates a crackly, golden crust -- the kind home bakers lust after -- and a perfectly round shape.
What’s better than a cookie? A giant cookie. Press a batch of cookie dough into your pot in an even layer; bake until golden, and top with ice cream. You can share it with friends or unveil it proudly at the end of the dinner party to gasps and compliments.
Low and slow: That’s the key to braising. Cast iron keeps heat consistent during cooking, so you can leave the pot alone for hours without fussing with the stove. As an added bonus, it retains heat long after you take your braise from the stove -- take it directly to the table and it’ll stay warm for dinner.
Dutch ovens intensify the flavors of soups and stews and turn them into one-pot meals. Add your ingredients in order of how long they need to cook -- start with sturdy vegetables like onions, carrots, and potatoes and add delicate greens, pasta, or cheeses towards the end. Layering flavors on top of one another creates a richer final product (and it means you don't need to dirty extra dishes).
Poaching prevents chicken from drying out, yielding tender meat. It’s an excellent technique to use if you’re planning on shredding chicken breasts for chicken salad or tacos. A deep, wide Dutch oven holds enough water to cover your protein by a few extra inches of water and retains heat well, so you can easily maintain a gentle simmer.
Frying can be a daunting task -- and a messy one. The tall sides of a Dutch oven help to cut down on oil splatter, and the cast iron handles very high heat without burning.
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You have a choice in life (and in cooking): Adhere to labels and conventions or think outside of the box. If we did the former, we'd never have used a chopstick to mix a cocktail, prepped corn using a Bundt pan, or made hash browns in a waffle iron. And we would have been missing out.
If you're only pulling out your Dutch oven to sauté vegetables, you're not using it to its full potential. In that spirit of creativity, here are 6 ways to put your cast iron Dutch oven pot to work.
Check out the slideshow above for six ways to use a dutch oven.