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5 Innovative Tips for Dutch Oven Users

Your Dutch oven can double as a cooler, and it’s also easier to wash than you might think.

Published Jan. 13, 2017.

You know your Dutch oven is capable of deep-frying chicken and cooking a hearty stew. But did you know it can also double as a cooler and help maximize oven space? These unusual tips will change the way you use a Dutch oven. 

1. Your Dutch Oven Can Maximize Oven Space

Dutch ovens are large and often leave little space in the oven for anything else. Say you’re braising some beef short ribs, but you also want to make roasted potatoes to serve on the side. If your oven doesn’t have the capacity to handle both jobs at the same time, how can you solve your spatial dilemma? Flip the lid on your Dutch oven upside down, cover it with foil, and roast your side dish directly on top.

2. Your Dutch Oven Lid Can Double as a Holding Platter

Are you batch cooking meat and don’t feel like dirtying another dish? Your Dutch oven’s upturned lid doubles as a convenient holding spot for parcooked food while you’re sauteing other ingredients—food can rest carefree until it’s ready to go back into the pot.

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3. Your Dutch Oven Can Act as a DIY Cooler

Fresh, crisp salads should remain that way, and your Dutch oven can help. Fill an enameled Dutch oven with ice water and let it stand until the pot is thoroughly chilled (about 5 minutes). Dump the water out, dry the pot, and transfer the chilled food into the pot for serving. Because of cast iron’s ability to retain heat (or lack thereof) and keep a stable temperature, your Dutch oven will remain cold for much longer than would a glass or plastic serving bowl.

4. Your Dutch Oven Is Easier to Clean than You Think

Dutch ovens are prone to staining, and while we’re not concerned with keeping ours pristine, staining is problematic when the bottom of the pot darkens so much that we can’t monitor browning. The best way to deep-clean a stained pot is to let it soak overnight in a solution of one part bleach and three parts water, and then wash thoroughly with soap and water.

5. Your Dutch Oven Can Double as a Smoker

Just because the weather isn’t cooperating doesn’t mean that you can’t smoke food. Indoor smoking delivers some of the same complexity and aromas that you’d produce on a grill. Here’s our method for turning your Dutch oven into an indoor smoker:

1. Place 7-inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil on bottom of large Dutch oven (not nonstick) with tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle ¼ cup unsoaked wood chips on foil.

2. Place disposable aluminum pie plate (to catch fat) on chips, followed by steamer basket.

3. Brush 4 (6-ounce) skinless fish fillets or 4 chicken pieces (bone-in or boneless) with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange food in steamer basket and tent with foil.

4. Place pot over high heat until chips begin to smoke, 5 to 8 minutes.

5. Cover pot and seal rim with foil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 15 minutes.

6. Off heat (and in well-ventilated area), transfer food to serving platter (for fish) or wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet (for chicken). Broil or bake chicken until dark meat reaches 175 degrees and white meat reaches 165 degrees.

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