Cast iron cookware is versatile and durable. You can use it for most cooking methods --- on the stove, in the oven, even in a campfire. A cast iron pot can be used to boil, bake, fry or roast food. Lidded cast iron pots are sometimes called Dutch ovens.
A Dutch oven is a thick-walled, heavy pot that is prized for its uniform internal heat. It is well suited for long, slow cooking. A traditional Dutch oven is made of bare cast iron and has a wire handle, three legs and a rimmed, concave lid that is designed to store coals from a cooking fire. Enameled Dutch ovens are coated in shiny, colorful porcelain and are not intended for campfire use.
All cast iron pots can be used in the oven, though some enameled Dutch ovens have handles or knobs that are oven-safe only up to 375 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Read the instructions before using your new pot. Like all cast iron cookware, Dutch ovens add iron, an essential nutrient that most Americans lack, to food cooked in them.
Dutch ovens are best for slow-cooking foods like roasts, stews and casseroles, dishes that need to cook for more than one hour. Since cast iron cookware is often used outdoors, Dutch oven recipes may use charcoal briquettes to describe temperature, but you should never place charcoal in your kitchen oven. To mimic a slow fire in your oven, bake at 250 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn up to 350 degrees to 400 degrees for a medium fire, 400 degrees to 450 degrees for a hot fire, and 450 to 500 degrees for a very hot fire.
Dutch Oven as an Oven
As the name suggests, a Dutch oven can also be used as an oven over a campfire. Place a small pan inside the pot to bake biscuits, cakes, pies, pizzas and breads.
- 101 Things to Do with a Dutch Oven; Vernon Winterton; 2006
- Utah State University Summit County Extension; Dutch Oven Cooking; Susan Haws; March 2010
- Photo Credit kochstelle image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com