Cast iron cookware comes in many brilliant forms. The enjoyment of many culinary enthusiasts of one piece of cast iron cookware usually leads them to explore other types of cast iron cookware.
A cast iron dutch oven is a fantastic addition to any kitchen. There is a considerable variety in brands, shapes, sizes, and functions.
Cooked Cabbage Rolls in a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens were a mainstay in many kitchens and campsites for centuries, and manufacturers have given them chic, modern updates. Despite these improvements, it still begs the question: Can a dutch oven go in the oven?
In short, yes, but there is much more to this awesome piece of cookware.
Cast iron dutch ovens range widely in design. You can get a dutch oven that has feet or no feet. You can get seasoned Dutch ovens or you could go enameled. Since you want to cook in your oven, however, you’re best off with a non-footed version.
A dutch oven with feet is primarily for outdoor cooking. The feet facilitate the placing of hot coals underneath without using a hanging apparatus.
The Dutch oven gets its name because it functions like a portable oven. The cook places hot coals in a pile under the pot and then on the lid. Many seasoned dutch ovens, such as those made by Lodge, have a deep lip around the lid. The protruding lip keeps the coals from sliding off the top.
Even heat all around the pot cooks the food inside as if it were in a conventional oven.
A footed pot is not ideal for use in your oven because the feet will drop through the rack, causing an imbalance. This could cause it to spill the hot contents dangerously, making a huge mess in your oven.
Your dutch oven may be seasoned, plain, or enamel coated. A pot that is not enamel coated is a basic black dutch oven.
Basic Dutch Oven
Lodge is a popular brand for pre-seasoned cast iron cookware. Their basic dutch oven with side handles and a lid comes in four sizes. Choose the 1-, 2-, 5-, or 7-quart pot. You can use these pots in the oven, over a campfire, and on a stovetop or grill.
Lodge Dutch ovens are pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil. Seasoning is the last step before a piece leaves the foundry. The manufacturer sprays oil onto the surface and then bakes it in. This process gives the cookware its black patina and a natural non-stick surface.
Other companies that sell traditional cast iron pieces will have a similar process. Look for "pre-seasoned" on the label.
When a Dutch oven is coated in enamel it is known as a French oven. Enameled Dutch ovens are a modernized version of the outdoor cooking equipment discussed above. They are meant for use on the stove and in the oven.
With their growing popularity, there is now a wide range of brands and styles to choose from. Several manufacturers offer a variety of sizes and colors to match almost any kitchen decor.
You'll find round and oval Dutch ovens. Oval-shaped pots work well for roasting meat, especially whole poultry.
Some of the best Dutch ovens are made by popular brands.
In addition to the pre-seasoned Dutch ovens discussed above, Lodge also makes enameled dutch ovens. They have a circular and an oval version. The 7-quart oval retails at about $120. That’s a good price for a piece that will be part of your repertoire for decades to come.
A unique piece by Lodge is the Double Dutch Oven. If you ever run out of room in your oven, you can flip over the dutch oven lid and use it as a roasting pan.
You can find a 6-quart Dutch oven with a lid from Ayesha Curry at Macy's. It also retails for about $120. They are less expensive on Amazon and have 4.5 stars. It is rated oven safe up to 500 degrees.
Great Jones makes an almost 7-quart oval Dutch oven. It’s called The Dutchess and retails at $160. It is oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to Great Jones, it is dishwasher friendly though they recommend hand-drying.
Also available at Macy's and on Amazon, the Martha Stewart Collection offers a 6-quart round enameled Dutch oven. It is also rated oven safe up to 500 degrees. The lid has condensation rings to help keep the food moist when the lid is on.
Le Creuset Dutch ovens are high-end products ranging from $250 to $610. They come with top ratings and rave reviews. Whether the investment is worth it is up to you.
They offer the broadest range of sizes from 2-quart to 13.25-quart enameled Dutch ovens. Le Creuset says the handles on their Classic enameled cast iron pieces are heat resistant up to 500 degrees. You can use them in the oven and on the stove.
Their website offers specific and helpful care and usage recommendations.
Dutch oven cooking is a category unto itself in many ways. They are magical cooking vessels that you'll probably find yourself turning to again and again for soups, stews, braised meat, and even loaves of bread and desserts. They’re versatile buy-it-for-life kitchen implements.
Soups, stews, and braised meat become a one-pot meal when you use a Dutch oven. You can take it from the stovetop where you brown meat or sauté vegetables and then to the oven for the final bake.
You can bake bread in your Dutch oven. Artisan loaves come out with a delightful, crispy crust. And the cast iron can stand up to the high temperatures of bread making.
Dutch Ovens Are Usually Oven Safe - But Check Your Owner’s Manuals as Some Parts of Your Dutch Oven May Not Survive a Trip to Your Kitchen Oven
Yes! But please note that some dutch oven components - most notably knobs on lids - aren't oven safe at high temperature.
When in doubt, check the manufacturer's website for instructions about your specific piece.
Most Dutch ovens in the market today are designed for use in the kitchen, not over the campfire. They require special care but make a marvelous addition to your cooking arsenal.
You should preheat your Dutch oven. While cast iron is known for retaining heat and standing up to high temperatures, a sudden temperature change, like placing a cold Dutch oven into a hot oven, can cause it to crack. Many recipes will instruct you to preheat any cast iron cookware, but if not, remember this simple tip.
Put your Dutch oven in a cold oven and preheat them together.
If you are browning food before moving it to the oven, your pot will preheat on the stovetop during that stage of cooking. Just remember to put the lid in the preheating oven so it is up to temperature when you're ready to cover the Dutch oven.
Technically, you can slide any dutch oven into your oven. Here are some pros and cons of going for a Dutch oven.
Yes. Many recipes will tell you to place the lid on for all or some of the cooking time. Remember to preheat the lid with the rest of the pot so it doesn't crack.
The lid keeps heat and moisture inside during the cooking process. Lodge and Ayesha Curry put self-basting dimples on the underside of the lid. As the steam rises up and condenses on the lid, the dimples facilitate it dripping back down onto the food.
Yes because they are made of heat-tempered glass. However, the glass lid will naturally have a lower heat rating than the cast iron pot. For example, Lodge glass lids are oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Do remember that not all glass is oven safe.
A Dutch oven is a lovely investment in your cookware collection. A few special care instructions will keep it in tip-top condition.
Never use metal tools on your enameled cast iron. A metal spatula, whisk, or another tool will scratch the enamel and damage the integrity of the surface.
Wooden or plastic tools are ideal for enameled cast iron.
One place where the enamel is prone to chipping is around the edges. Some brands leave a bare cast iron edge while others coat it in enamel. The key is to take care when putting the lid on and during cleaning. If you bang the lid down or knock against something while cleaning, you could chip the enamel.
You should also never scrub your enameled cast iron with an abrasive tool such as a scouring pad or steel wool. These will scratch the enamel too.
Wooden and plastic tools are your friends here. Use a scraper for any stuck-on bits with plenty of hot water and soap.
However, don't use soap on your pre-seasoned cast iron. Too much soap strips the seasoning away. With no enamel, you are free to use metal scrubbers or a sturdy bristled scrub brush.