The title sounded good at the time…
What is a Dutch oven? Besides being a form of juvenile torture, it is also a heavy enamel-coated, cast iron pot. I used to turn my nose up at these objects and the people who purchased them or pined after them, particularly the brand Le Creuset.
I firmly believed that people only wanted them because they seemed cool, like one of those terrible brown Louis Vuitton bags. (sorry if I have offended anyone) Unlike purchasing a Louis Vuitton knock off on Canal street in NYC, buying a le Creuset look-alike actually identifies you as a smarter person. I realized late in life that Dutch ovens are a wonderful thing.
I might have mentioned that I like uncluttered surfaces, hence the knife magnet as opposed to the big wooden block, but this rule does not apply to my lovely, eggshell white dutch oven – and it is NOT a Le Creuset. My white Palms brand dutch oven is a permanent fixture on my stove. It is big, shiny and heavy enough to throw at a burglar if the need should arise. There is nothing wrong with Le Creuset, but there is something wrong with paying $249 for one. I paid around $59 for mine and I hope to pass it on to my kids, but by that time, food will probably come in pellets that you insert into your ears.
I won’t get into the long and sultry history of the dutch oven. Somebody else already did. I will say that I LOVE cooking with it. I love making soups in it., braising meats, cooking beans and pretty much anything else that requires some more leg room. I am not an expert on metals and heat distribution, but I love the way that enamel covered cast-iron distributes and maintains heat.
GOOD TO KNOW: The best place to get a great deal on an enamel-coated Dutch oven is T•J•MAXX or Home Goods. They even occasionally carry Le Creuset for all of you brand whores. When shopping for a dutch oven, you should make sure that the enamel is not chipped. You should observe a Le Creuset and see how thick the enamel appears as well as how the lid fits and what material the handle is. I have a feeling Le Creuset or some other quality dutch oven manufacturer actually manufactures the off-brand versions, so why would you pay more for the brand? Why, I ask!
If you are going to buy a Dutch oven for the first time, go BIG or go home. There is no point in going for the heavy artillery if you are going miniature. Also, make sure it is cast iron underneath the enamel. I like the oval shape and I believe mine holds 6 quarts. Don’t go smaller than 6. I can put an entire small chicken in there to make chicken soup. Nifty. It is also groovy for making slow and low braised pork butt, a.k.a Carnitas, pulled pork or pork confit. The only downside to displaying your shiny dutch oven on your stove is that it will be a constant reminder that you could be making a plethora of lovely slow dishes, but instead are staring at it in shame while eating Chinese food out of a box.