Dutch Oven: Tips, Tricks, And Recipes For the Beginner (video)
The dutch oven concept has been around seemingly forever. Various designs have been an open fire cookware staple, for both indoor open fire kitchens and out-of-doors campfire cooking, since colonial times.
“Bake Kettles”, as they were once known, have undergone some changes in design since those early days, and in fact Paul Revere is credited with the design features of a lipped cover and legs attached to the bottom.
A Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dutch ovens are usually made of cast iron, and seasoned. Some Dutch ovens are instead made of cast aluminum, or are ceramic. Some metal varieties are enameled rather than being seasoned. Dutch ovens have been used as cooking vessels for hundreds of years.
You can make soups and stews in them, fry and saute in them, and even bake in them. Their multi-use feature may be part of what makes them intimidating to use if you don’t understand the basic operating principle of this time worn cooking tool.
The key to cooking in a dutch oven is about achieving a balance of heat on the inside of the oven, and keeping that internal temperature consistent throughout the cooking process. We do this by heating, with coals, both the top and the bottom of oven.
Here, John Townsend presents the basics of dutch oven cooking, particularly as it concerns controlling the internal temperature of the oven.
You’ll need a strong bank of coals to last the entirety of the cooking time to get that even heating. You’ll also need – if you’re planning on baking something like bread, as he does here – you will need a trivet and plate upon which to set the dough inside of the oven. You don’t want baked foods to sit directly on the floor of the oven.