The beginner's guide to dutch ovens
What are Dutch ovens? Well to us they are quite possibly the most versatile piece of cooking equipment you can own for use outdoors. They can be used to roast, stew, bake and fry a whole range of different types of food. Often the lids can be turned upside down to create a frying surface or shallow pot on its own. From casseroles to bread and soups to pies, these deep pots of cast-iron wonderfulness are great for camping holidays or cooking in your garden alike. They are usually heavy so unless you are feeling extremely strong, these are not for hiking or for using on the move.
As they are made from cast-iron, they are great at dispersing heat around the pot evenly and retaining this heat for longer periods than most other pots we have used. They are perfect for slow cooking for melt-in-your-mouth meats and casseroles.
We recommend buying ones with lids that have a ridge around the top so you can place charcoal lumps on the lid to support the even distribution of heat, particularly if you are using them for pies or baking bread so you get an even rise. It means the Dutch oven acts more like a traditional oven than a pot. The lids should also have some weight to it so it keeps moisture in the pot during cooking. A long handle is also useful for easy lifting on and off the fire or for hanging from a tripod. They should feel heavy to hold and have even, thick walls and a thick base.
To keep your Dutch oven in great condition, we recommend that you wipe it over with a dry piece of kitchen towl rather than scrub it with washing up liquid. You should also look to "season" it occasionally to preserve it longer-term.
Dutch ovens can have a flat base or come with legs. The flat base is great if you are resting it on a flat surface to cook on (such as a grill grate). The legs are useful if you want to stand the Dutch oven directly in the fire embers so they provide a more stable footing to avoid spills.
We highly recommend these pots for their versatility and robustness. Once you start using them, you'll realise that you can't do without one, particularly if you are looking to cook something different to the usual burgers and sausages outdoors!
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