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Miscellaneous Dutch Oven Tips

November 9th, 2006 by Halli

A Dutch oven is a very versatile cooking pot. You can turn over the lid, place it directly on the coals, and use it for a frying pan. You can heat oil in the oven and deep fry onion rings, scones, etc. And with both the pot and the lid, you can bake, roast, boil, brown, etc., etc.

To minimize the clean up, you can line your Dutch oven with heavy-duty, extra-wide aluminum foil. There will usually be some food that leaks onto the oven, but it will usually not be baked on, and clean up will be quick and easy.

When you can actually smell your dish as you walk near the hot oven, your dish is probably done, even if your watch or timer says it hasn’t been long enough. When you lift the lid to check for doneness or to stir, use care to keep coals and especially ash from falling off the lid onto the food. Though “activated charcoal” is reputed to aid digestion, it doesn’t look very tempting on top of the cobbler or chicken dish! Likewise, be careful where you set the lid while tending to the dish. It will pick up sand or dirt, which will be transferred to the food.

When you’ve finished the cooking stage and have served your guests, remove the food from the oven as soon as possible, and don’t store food in it, unless it is an aluminum oven. In a cast iron oven, the result will be rust. Do allow the oven to cool by itself, and never pour cold water in a hot oven, or hot water in a very cold oven, as the oven may crack.

Remember that if the weather outside prevents charcoal or gas cooker preparation, just pop your Dutch oven in your indoor electric oven. The Dutch oven legs will just fit between the rails of your oven racks. Set your temperature to 350F, or other specified temperature (you can use a similar conventional oven recipe for guidance) and bake for the appropriate length of time. There are both cast iron and aluminum Dutch ovens made specially for indoor ovens, which are minus the legs and the flange on the lid.

If you are into emergency preparedness, as I am, keep a Dutch oven, supplies and ingredients for easy meals handy. Even canned stew will taste great heated in a Dutch oven. Don’t forget to practice your skills during times of less stress!

I love to use mixes for cakes and corn bread, and to open cans for casseroles and cobblers, to minimize food prep time. For me, the fun comes in the cooking. However, many Dutch oven cooks are into gourmet cooking and love to concentrate on multiple courses and elegant presentation. Pick your style (or a combination suiting your taste) and have fun. And remember, for your own safety, never eat food prepared by a skinny Dutch oven cook!

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