The pride of every kitchen, the Dutch oven is on every gift registry and in every well-stocked cabinet (if it ever sees a day when it’s not in use). A good Dutch oven is a kitchen essential, heavy and thick enough to conduct and retain heat and deep enough to handle large cuts of meat and quarts of cooking liquid. While a Dutch oven is ideal for braises, stews, and chilis, you can ask it to do much more. Below are a few Dutch oven uses that make it such a kitchen must-have.
Use Your Dutch to Cook Pasta Directly in the Sauce
Dutch ovens are perfect for serving up a pasta feast, and the best part is that they help you eliminate the pot of boiling water. The key to cooking pasta through without all that water is to use an intensely flavored, moisture-heavy cooking liquid that can easily work as a sauce. We like using combinations of water, wine, the liquid from canned tomatoes, and broth, depending on the flavor profile of the dish. This trick will save you time and turn out a pot of fully loaded pasta.
Use Your Dutch Oven to Steam Side Dishes
When we want sides that don’t disappear into the dish, we look to our steamer basket to hold vegetables above the fray. Placing our steamer basket above the protein and cooking liquid allows vegetables like broccoli and asparagus to steam through under the Dutch oven’s tight seal without turning soggy, a trick that makes it easy to serve up a distinct side right from the same pot containing even the sauciest entrée.
Use Your Dutch Oven to Cook Hearty Stews
Great stews are defined by their thick, rich texture. Rather than lengthen our ingredient lists with added thickening agents, we use the low-and-slow cooking technique to our advantage, allowing starchy ingredients to break down and add body to a stew naturally. From cooking sweet potatoes until they start to disintegrate to simmering quinoa until it sloughs off its starch, our best thickeners are right in front of our faces.
For more on cooking with Dutch ovens, read the following posts:
- 5 Innovative Tips for Dutch Oven Users
- 6 Rules to Follow When Cooking with a Dutch Oven
- Dutch Oven Shopping Guide
What's your favorite meal to cook in your Dutch oven? Let us know in the comments!
Make Fuss-Free Meals Using Just One Pan One-Pan Wonders
Cooking on busy weeknights is a heavy lift—it’s easy to be deterred by time-consuming prep before and a sink full of dirty dishes after. One-pan meals would be a great solution, if they didn’t result in bland, mushy food. The test kitchen solved these challenged to create One-Pan Wonders, a collection of inspired, family-friendly recipes for even the busiest home cooks.