Cooking With A Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Make chili, chicken and rice, or no knead bread
When you hear the term "dutch oven" the first thing you think of involves some flatulence, your wife, and some bedsheets. Admit it, I totally called you on it. The second thing you should think of is a new, old-fashioned way of cooking. More and more people are discovering the simplicity of cooking with dutch ovens.
A dutch oven should be cast iron, and I recommend you either buy it preseasoned or preseason it yourself (which basically involves covering it with oil or animal fat and baking it for an extended period of time). Cast iron is the key to dutch oven cooking because it heats more evenly than a stainless steel pot.
By spreading the heat around, you avoid hot spots that will burn foods in some areas while failing to fully cook it in others. In fact, using pots that do not heat evenly could be the cause of some of your less-than-stellar cooking moments. The chemistry of cooking is altered when an entire mixture is not cooked evenly. Sometimes this is done on purpose, such as when a recipe specifically tells you not to stir something. Oftentimes it's not on purpose, and you end up with something burned and dry on one side and soupy and luke warm on another.
I love using my dutch oven because it's so versatile. I can use it to make a great casserole, a fruit cobbler, or even something amazingly simple like no knead bread. The no knead bread is stupifyingly simple and consists of yeast, salt, flour and water mixed together quickly into a dough and then left to sit for 12 hours. After that, into the dutch oven it goes. It cooks, and when it's finished it looks and tastes like something you'd find at a fine bakery. Some weeks I'll make half a dozen of them. Total cost of ingredients: maybe a dollar.
Dutch ovens are so good with dough you'll soon find yourself expanding beyond the no knead bread and into deep dish pizzas that will blow away anything you can get at Pizza Hut.
No kitchen is complete without a dutch oven. If you have one but you never use it, it's time to pull it out of the cupboard and give it a permanent spot on your stove right next to your cast iron skillet (hey look, they match!). Anyone can learn how to master one of these and look like they really know their way around a kitchen.