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Dutch Ovens: traditional cast-iron pans

A Dutch Oven is a cast-iron pan you can do almost anything with in terms of cooking methods and heat sources. Use the pan in the oven, on the barbeque or over an open flame. A Dutch Oven without feet can also be used on the stove. However, a Dutch oven with feet cannot be used on, for instance, induction hobs. You can use it to bake, roast, fry, stew and grill. A proper Dutch Oven comes with a lid with raised edges and enough room for coals. With this method you can turn the pan into an oven to prepare the most delicious pizzas, breads, pies and casseroles. All in the same pan!

The Dutch Oven comes in different shapes and sizes. There are, for instance, pans with and without feet. Round or oval. Varying from 3 to 21 litres.

Maintenance Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is perfect to be used over an open flame. Cast-iron can withstand high temperatures without being damaged. Most pans have been seasoned to prevent rust before use. When you are going to use the pan for the first time all you have to do is clean it and add a new coat of oil, preferably sunflower or peanut oil. After adding a new coat you slowly start to heat the pan. Because the pores of the cast-iron start to open up when hot the oil will seep into the iron closing it off. As such the pan won’t rust or burn. Found some rust? Don’t panic, you can easily fix it with a metal brush, and a new coat of oil. Afterwards you will only have to heat the pan again to finish the coating. If necessary you can repeat this process a couple of times. Never let a cast-iron pan cool off too fast. Never place it underneath a cold tap immediately after use. Don’t clean it in your dishwasher and never put it aside while still wet. All you have to do is store and treat the Dutch Ovens well and you will enjoy them for life.

How to use a Dutch Oven

There are several ways of using a Dutch oven. The possibilities depend on the Dutch Oven you have purchased. If it has been enhanced with feet you can immediately place it over an open flame. You could do the same with a version without feet. However, your pan will quickly start to heat up increasing the chance of burning. A Dutch Oven without feet works better when placed on a pan support over an open flame. Or simply use a wire handle to hang it above the fire. Another way is to use burning embers. Place the pan on the embers and add a number on top of the lid to use the pan as an oven. The advantage is that you can use the amount of embers to manage the temperature.

Dutch Oven history

The traditional Dutch Oven is a cast-iron pan with a lid and three feet. The lid has been enhanced with raised edges and has enough room for coals. The name is supposed to originate from a Dutch merchant who brought it to the United States. With the Dutch Oven Dutch immigrants would still be able to enjoy a piece of home, of the Dutch cuisine. Throughout the years the Dutch Oven became very popular amongst travellers because you can use it in many different ways. Whether you are cooking a meal with chicken and rice, meat and potatoes, chili or even bread and pastries: it is possible in a Dutch Oven.