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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dutch Oven {is AWESOME} :: How to Use in Cooking and Care Instructions

Today it crossed my mind that I had written something awesome that I never published on my blog! This is an old article that I wrote in April 2011 as my writing sample when I applied to be a writer for SIMPLE Reviews - it got me the job, so I figured I should share it!




There’s a new star in my cupboard: my Dutch Oven.

Everything I have cooked in it has turned out juicy, fork-tender and cooked to perfection. Whether chicken or beef (carnitas is next on the menu!), a knife was not required for meals cooked in my Dutch Oven.

Plus, I *heart* one pot meals! What’s not to love here?

Pot Roast (hubby’s favorite) was first on the menu. I have made pot roast many times (did I mention, it’s hubby’s fave?), both in a roasting pan and in the crock pot… but the dutch oven took the gold by a landslide! With the Dutch Oven, all cooking is done in the pot. With oven or crock pot, you have to use a pan to brown the meat first, then transfer to a roasting pan or the crock pot. Too many dishes! In the crock pot, the meat turns out pretty tender if you let it cook long enough, but then the carrots always come out mushy. In the roasting pan both the meat and carrots are drained of moisture and get rubbery instead of tender. In the Dutch Oven, the meat was soft like butter and fell apart just by looking at it and the carrots were tender and roasted to golden perfection.

When most people think of a Dutch Oven (also called a French Oven or cast iron casserole), they imagine the expensive “leading brand” (you know which one…) and automatically think they can’t afford to own one. Au contraire, mon ami! You can get a quality piece of cookware without breaking the bank!

I purchased a JC Penney in-house Cooks brand 7 quart oval cast iron casserole, which goes on sale for $90, regularly $160. For comparison, the “leading brand” 7 quart round French Oven can be found on sale for around $275, regularly $340!!That’s a difference of $185 when both are on sale!! Whew!

I couldn’t be happier with my Cooks Dutch Oven, and I spent approximately 1/3 of the cost of the “leading brand.”Cooks is good quality, it is aesthetically beautiful (gradient blue – way prettier than the “leading brand” in my opinion), and it has produced remarkably well-cookedfood. I truly believe that a $90 investment is worth this fantastic piece of cookware.

Cast iron distributes heat evenly when used both on the stovetop and in the oven. Many Dutch Oven recipes begin cooking on the stovetop, then finish in the oven. I dig this feature! A huge bonus of Dutch Ovens: you can cook and serve a meal in the same beautiful dish, which means less after-dinner dishes to wash!

Plus, the enameled interior coating is stick-resistant and releases food for easy cleaning. I’m not a fan of doing dishes (let’s be honest, who is a fan, really?), so this is a huge bonus in my book.

Here’s my Dutch Oven in action (making Belgian-Style Pot Roast). Look at how beautifully that roast seared up!

Use and Care
When using and caring for your Dutch Oven, be sure not to use metal utensils or steel wool. You will leave marks on the enamel coating. My mom found out the hard way when she used an SOS pad on my dish (ACK!). I am happy to report that I was able to get most of the marks off using baking soda, a regular dishwashing brush and lots of elbow grease. Yay!

Use mild dishwashing soap and warm water to clean your Dutch Oven. Unlike bare cast iron cookware, enameled cookware doesn’t require “seasoning,” and therefore can be cleaned using soap.

Wash and dry immediately to avoid rust on the exposed cast iron edge. The exposed edge is the only difference I can see between Cooks and the “leading brand.”

The downside of Dutch Ovens is their weight. Alone, they are heavy. Full of yummy food, they are even heavier. But just do a few bicep curls with it and you can consider cooking as part of your workout routine! Score!

Thank you for reading!


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