Dutch Oven Reviews:
A modern dutch oven is described as a "heavy metal, covered pot" used for cooking. Dutch ovens can be made of lightweight materials like aluminum or of heavy-duty materials such as cast iron. Most models come with metal legs so the oven is supported over the heat source. A dutch oven lid should fit securely into the bottom oven. The initial trick to using a dutch oven is seasoning it. This requires that the inside surface be coated with oil (Crisco or others). The seasoning will keep the metal from rusting, give your foods a touch of flavor, and makes for an excellent non-stick surface (easy clean up). Once you have greased up the inside of your dutch oven with solid shortening, bake it at 300 degrees in a conventional oven for 1 hour and after it has cooled, use a paper towel to wipe away excess grease. There are several models that come pre-seasoned from the factory which can be a selling point if all this seasoning procedure sounds like a bit much. Your dutch oven should develop over time a smooth, hard black coating on the inside which means it has been seasoned properly.
- As for size of dutch ovens, we read many customer comments that say go with the 12" size which fits between 6 and 8 quarts. Most recipes are given in this dutch oven size so it's easier to plan meals based on that. Dutch ovens are great for cooking and re-heating risotto, soups, stews, chowders, or slow-cooking foods. Most dutch ovens also cook meats and vegetables to perfection in simmering broths. The popular brands are Lodge, Maca, All-Clad, Le Creuset, Chantal, Staub, Berndes, and Calphalon. The Lodge dutch ovens are the most popular for outdoor camping. Lodge Dutch Ovens have been rated "Best Buy" by Cook's Illustrated magazine and are sturdy and durable with cast iron lids. Dutch oven sizes for all brands range from 2 quarts to 15 quarts, with the most popular being the 6-8 quart size. We went to sites like Cooking.com, Lodgedutchovens.com, and Amazon.com to find out which models are the most popular and which brands rate the best in consumer opinions. See the results below. You can browse the up-to-date list of best-selling dutch ovens here
Best Dutch Oven:
The Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven
($195) rates the best amongst consumers and customer feedback is excellent. The 5.5 quart dutch oven comes with a tight lid that will keep all the flavors and moistures inside. The cast handles on the side make it easy to carry from one room to another. The enamel coating is not only easy to clean, but it will not absorb odors or flavors. Owners say the Le Creuset dutch oven is great for braising meats and chicken, chili, stews, and even spaghetti sauce. Clean up is no problem since the oven is dishwasher safe. The 5.5 Quart All-Clad Dutch Oven
($250) is more expensive than the Le Creuset model and functions much the same with great results. We do feel, however, that you are paying more for looks than performance with All-Clad. If you want stainless steel look, then consider the All-Clad model.
Budget/Value Dutch Oven:
The Emerilware from All-Clad Cast Iron Dutch Oven
($35) is the best value we could find and consumers agreed. You can roast a chicken or slow-simmer beef stew in this dutch oven. There is a lifetime warranty on this cast iron dutch oven and it's both stove top and oven safe up to 500 degrees. Comes pre-seasoned to eliminate that hassle and the secure lid locks in moisture and flavor. Owners say it retains heat well and food cooks evenly. The one disadvantage is that it needs to be handwashed and dried thoroughly unlike dishwasher safe models.
Camping Dutch Oven:
There are really only 3 recognized dutch oven brands when it comes to camping - Lodge, Camp Chef, Maca. Our preference is the Camp Chef Cast Iron 6 qt
($30) - this 10" Sacagawea Lewis & Clark Edition has a reversible lid that turns into a full size skillet. It's great for potatoes or cobbler and serves 12-14 people. This dutch oven comes pre-seasoned and includes a lid lifter, starter booklet with seasoning tips, sample bread recipe, dessert recipe, and main dish recipe. The Maca dutch ovens come in aluminum or cast iron and meant for larger group gatherings. The 13" 12-quart Maca dutch oven runs about $90 and serves up to 64 people. You can do whole chickens, small turkeys, roasts, etc. The #1 name in camp, or dutch, ovens is Lodge (see all Lodge dutch ovens here
). The Lodge 10" Dutch Oven ($54) is great for soups, corn bread, and other side dishes or main dishes. The pre-seasoned dutch oven is ready to go when it comes in the mail and many owners say the chili this thing produces in camp is perfect.
Dutch Oven Recipes:
Dutch ovens have made a recent comeback in kitchens across America and home chefs are looking for recipes that are easy and produce great results. The most comprehensive site we found for free dutch oven recipes was at http://papadutch.home.comcast.net/~papadutch/dutch-oven-recipes.htm
. Byron Bills runs the site and updates it regularly with new recipes that range from breakfast, side dishes, sauces, breads, entrees and desserts. Learn how to cook beef, pork, poultry, chilis, pies, cakes, cobblers, and soups/stews. The site is complete with cooking tips, oven care, and general dutch oven cooking information.