Here is a compilation of the most asked questions I get asked concerning Dutch ovens…whether they are enamel, cast iron or ceramic. In this post I deliver you the fact quickly, telling you what you need to know, what is the truth and what is myth.
Listen to this post…
Is a dutch oven essential or simply useful?
There is no dish in a kitchen that can be considered essential. When it comes to it, you can always improvise. Most serve a similar function if you use some imagination and common sense.
However, the question becomes, will having a Dutch oven improve your experience and results in the kitchen.
The answer is undoubtedly yes. The sheer versatility of this cookware means that it can replace a number of other units in your kitchen. You can roast, stew, fry, bake…you name it, you can do it. Designed for stovetop to oven, they are so useful and can limit the amount of cleaning up afterwards.
The quality of the cooking is a major difference compared to other cookware. The heat retention of the iron means that you can cook at a lower heat and the construction and function of the oven means that your food remains moist and tender.
It is one of the few pieces of cookware where even an amateur can produce professional results with little effort or experience.
What is the best cast iron dutch oven?
The best one is the one you have access too. Joking aside, it may not seem like there is too much to it but there are a number of considerations you need to make before determining what is the best cast iron oven.
In many cases, you get what you pay for. The premium companies such as Le Creuset, Lodge and Staub have a strong heritage and reputation. This is a hard earnt reputation rather than marketing spend.
They have been producing great products for many years and have a loyal customer following.
So, what do you need to consider before you determine the ‘Best’ one?
- Your budget
- Customer care and support
- Where will you use it…inside…outside?
- How often will you use it?
- How long are you planning on keeping it?
- Do you need it to hold its value?
- Does it need to be enameled?
- How big does it need to be?
- How will you cook with it?
Once you have had a little think about these aspects, then it is time to think about what you can get for your budget.
Obviously, there are many manufacturers and ranges out there. We have done the heavy lifting for you by recommending the ‘Best’ ones we consider on the market.
Is a Dutch oven made by Le Creuset worth the very high price?
The answer to this depends entirely on whether you consider it a high price. There are many people out there that will only buy Le Creuset, not only for the quality of the products, but also for the heritage and brand.
If you were the remove the Le Creuset name and just look at the products, you can then make more considered arguments.
They do have a very strong reputation when it comes to quality. They use the best materials and the manufacturing process is very intense. A mix of automation and hand-crafted skills. There are up to 15 people involved in this process and can take more than a day to complete just one pot.
They also hold their value very well and over time are collector’s pieces. The vintage market is very strong and will continue to be so. Therefore, they retain and increase in value.
They also have a fantastic support network and great customer care. For example, if the enamel wears on a pot, they will re-enamel it for you. The warranty is a lifetime one which tells you the faith they attach to their cast iron products and consideration they have to their customers.
If the Le Creuset brand is not a significant consideration for you, then you have plenty of options.
Fundamentally, all enameled Dutch ovens do a very similar job. The difference is essentially in the quality of the finish, materials and design.
If you are not going to be using it consistently then it may be worth buying a cheaper version. The enamel will last pretty well if not used all the time. However, there is an increased risk of chipping or cracking on cheaper versions.
Overall, the question you will be asking yourself is if your prepared to pay the premium price for a great product. If not, there are plenty of cheaper products of average quality. The choice is yours.
What makes for a good Dutch oven?
You may want to look at the following details;
- Quality of the cast iron
- Uniformity of the cast iron
- Uniformity of the enameling
- Is the finish clean?
- How thick are the walls?
- Does the lid fit tightly without being too tight?
- Are there any imperfections in the construction
- Where was it made? Europe good…China bad
Good Dutch ovens have the following characteristics;
- Fantastic heat retention
- Uniform non-stick surface
- Heavy with thick base
- Tight fitting lid
- Can be used at high heat
- Can be used on all stove types
What is the best Dutch oven?
The best one is the one you have access too…or you can view my post recommending the top 5.
How to choose a good Dutch oven?
The important thing to look for is a tight-fitting lid. The way they work means that they need to retain the heat and moisture within the oven.
Make sure you review the brand and take peoples opinion on the quality of the production and heat retention.
They should have thick walls and be wider than they are tall. They should also have a consistent coating of enamel; this uniformity means it is less likely to wear.
The oven should have a good weight to it which will help with the heat retention.
Always make sure that the warranty being offered is comprehensive. Occasionally things can go wrong in production which means that you may end up with a substandard product. A good warranty will mean you are not left out of pocket.
An idea may be to call their customer support before you buy. If the information and service you receive is helpful, chances are that the after service will also reflect this.
It is also a good idea to pay close attention to what the warranty covers. In most cases it is manufacturing defects. They normally do not cover damage that was self-inflicted or damage that is a result of natural wear and tear.
What does ‘dutch oven’ mean?
If you are referring to the cooking container, it is a cast iron pan with a tight-fitting lid. It is designed to go from the stove to the oven and vice versa.
If it is the ruder slang version, it means breaking wind in bed and funneling the smell to your partner on the other side of the bed. We do not approve of this behavior.
What are some of the best Dutch oven recipes?
There are some wonderful recipes on line that will blow your socks off. Have a look at some of the following sites;
Are Dutch ovens good for healthy cooking?
It is first important to distinguish between the actual structure of the oven and the actual content.
The nutrition and health benefits are essentially determined by your ingredients. Dutch ovens are not universally refereed to as healthy cooking options.
If you choose nutritious low-fat food, then yes you can cook healthily. If your ingredients are poor, fatty and high in calories, so will the food you cook. It is not a magic pot.
In germs of actually cooking, the vitamins and nutrition are retained within the food. This is because nothing escapes with the tight-fitting lid.
The other aspect to consider is the iron that can be leached into the food. This only applies to the non-enamel versions and applies to the pure cast iron pans with no coating.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as those with an iron deficiency can really benefit.
The enameled version, can also be argued that it is healthier. They are non-stick naturally but if you compare them to other coated non-stick cookware. They are much cleaner. At high temperatures, the coated versions can become toxic. This is obviously dangerous if that enters the food. This will not happen in the enamel cookware.
Why is it called the ‘Dutch’ oven?
The process of making cast iron pots was dominated by the Dutch up until the 1800’s. They had invented and perfected the process of using sand to create casts. This resulted in a superior product than any other available. The process was eventually copied worldwide. However, the name stuck hence the name “Dutch oven”.
What is the best Dutch oven for camping?
There are specific Dutch ovens for outdoor camping. Although they do exactly the same as the ones designed for your kitchen, they are designed for the outdoors…rugged and robust.
They are heavy and for good reason. They have common features which make them perfect for outdoor cooking.
They have legs, it most cases three. They are there to lift them from the ground and leave enough space for coals to fit below them. They do come in a number of different heights so consider carefully what you are trying to achieve.
They have integrated handles that are molded into the frame. They are commonly known as tangs. A strong wire handle is attached to the tangs. Some ovens do not come with a wire handle. Some prefer not to have the handle as they can cause the oven to become unstable when used to move it. They also make it more problematic to store as you need more room. Avoid a handle if you can do so.
The lids have a key role to play in the cooking process. They tend to be flat so that you can place hot coals on them to cook from the top as well as the bottom. This is useful for cooking breads for example. They can also double as frying pans to on some models which means you do not have to take one with you. The handle on the lid tends to be molded into the cast iron. They normally allow for a hook to safely remove them from a distance
They are as you expect available in a number of sizes so as always, think about how many people you will be cooking for. Bear in mind they are heavy so getting the smallest possible size is always better.
The most famous American producer of the outdoor versions is Lodge. They have been producing them for many years and have a tremendous reputation for quality. Their loyal customer following is testament to their success.
What is an alternative to a dutch oven in cooking?
Its is fair to say that the humble Dutch oven is a pretty unique bit of kit. Its flexibility and durability make it perfect for most tasks in the kitchen.
In terms of alternatives, it really depends on what you are trying to achieve. You may need to improvise to do similar thinks. For example, if you wanted to make a casserole, you could improvise. Use a casserole dish with foil sealed over the top. The meat could be braised in a frying pan. You will therefore end up with similar results but obviously it comes with much more work.
Whatever you choose to do, you are trying to replicate the dynamics of the cooking method. Steaming, roasting, baking…you can achieve the same as a D.O. without it…the results will not be as good but at least its done.
Quite frankly, you can pick up a D.O. quite cheaply for the basic ones. They are worth the investment considering the sheer number of tasks they can be used for.
Is pure clay dutch oven easy to use?
These kind of pots and dishes are used all over the world in various forms and designs. They have an ancient history dating thousands of years. Some countries cuisines are based on these pots.
In Morocco and Tunisia for example, they use Tagines for most their dishes. A tagine will allow the moisture to circulate but not escape. In some ways, a tagine and a Dutch oven perform similarly.
The difference is that a D.O. is much more robust and will last many years. The flip side is that tagines are cheap to replace.
Yes, they are easy to use as long as you understand their limitations and benefits.
If we consider their limitations we can understand more about how you can use them.
Firstly, they need to be heated slowly on stove tops. The heat must be brought up slowly, fast cooking is not a thing here. Expect your dish to take a long time to cook. You may also need to have liquid in the dish to stop it burning.
They are not naturally non-stick, however, depending on how you clean them they may build a natural seasoning. It is always beneficial to create a natural seasoning to make it non-stick and allow you to use less oil in your cooking.
The benefits of clay pots are numerous. The main benefit is the ease and convenience of using them. They require little maintenance and are relatively cheap to buy.
They can be incredibly colorful and have the most wonderful intricate designs on them.
If you have never cooked meat in a tagine or clay pot, give it a go. You will be incredibly surprised at how the flavors marinade the meat. It will come out so tender and tasty.
So, in answer to your question, yes clay dutch ovens are easy to use aside from starting the heat from a very low start.
How is a French oven better than a Dutch oven?
There is no difference between a Dutch and French oven. They are one of the same thing.
It was merely a branding and marketing strategy from French manufacturers who were basically trying to send the message that the French ovens were superior in quality.
The first company who termed it as French was Le Creuset. They were the pioneers of the enamel version. They were attempting to differentiate their product with the original type of oven, just pure cast iron.
There are two theories why they are referred to as Dutch. The first is that the Dutch perfected the process of sand molding cast iron. Their end results were far better than anything being produced worldwide. They were therefore called Dutch ovens.
Another theory is that the Pennsylvanian Dutch were the first to use and introduce the pots into North America. Their nomadic lifestyle meant they traveled light and were therefore one of the first to truly establish one pot cooking.
Therefore, you cannot say that one is better than the other as they are exactly the same thing. They are known by different names throughout the world.
In Belgium and other arts of the world, they are referred to as Cocottes.
In the United Kingdom, they may be referred to as Casserole dishes…in both cases, they are actually referring to the same cookware.
Are Dutch ovens dishwasher safe?
It really depends on your cookware. You need to establish if it is pure cast iron or enameled cast iron.
If it is enameled cast iron, then yes, it is likely to be dishwasher safe. However, you may want to think twice about using the dishwasher.
Aside from the fact that they are non-stick, they are easy to clean. If there are little bits of food stuck to the pan, it is unlikely that a dishwasher will clean them off anyway.
You need to soak it with hot water for 15 minutes, then gently scrape them off using a silicone or wooden spatula.
Failing that method, you may want to use a method that involves bicarbonate of soda.
The other reason why you may want to refrain using a dishwasher is a good reason. Continual use will dull the enamel colors on the outside which will leave it looking dated. However, it should have no bearing on the actual functionality of the cookware.
Regardless of what I say, you should always refer to your manufacturers instructions.
If your dutch oven has no enamel coating, do NOT us in a dishwasher. They are not designed to be submerged in water. They will rust and the seasoning will be removed. You will therefore have to go through the whole process of seasoning it again.
The detergent or the soap will also open up the pores of the cast iron which water will penetrate into. This will cause it t rust.
As with any cast iron, you need to wipe clean. Then use a paper towel to apply a light coat of oil to seal it again.
The rules are simple, keep it dry, don’t use soap and treat it well.
How much does it cost to make a Dutch oven?
The price differences between cast iron dutch ovens can be perplexing to most people.
The fact is that they are made from iron but the differences in the quality of the iron can be limited. Therefore, what is it that makes the cost variation so different?
If we take the example of Le Creuset for example, they have been established for a very long time. They have a loyal following and a strong brand developed over time that reflects their quality. They therefore have the ability to charge more for their products.
They are also known for having a high-quality manufacturing system. Their process involves no less than 15 people all completing intricate tasks. This does add to the costs.
So, in answer to the question of how much does it cost? Well we can take a retail pricing model. Normally the cost of production is anywhere up to 40%. After that there are transportation and retail costs that are added by retailers to cover costs and profitability.
Therefore, we can realistically say that the actual cost of production is approximately 25 – 30% before Le Creuset add their distribution and other associated costs of doing business.
Smaller manufacturers that compete in the mass market may well have a lower cost of production as their processes may be highly automated. Their quality is obviously a lot less and reflected in the price. They also will not have the ability to charge a premium for the brand name as they do not have the heritage or customer service.
If a recipe calls for a Dutch oven, what can I substitute instead?
Many recipes are designed specifically for one pot cooking. They are usually designed for this method as they require an element of slow cooking.
The benefit of using a D.O. is that it does not allow the steam and moisture to escape. The flavors it retains is amazing and your food can taste beautiful using them.
You need to establish what the purpose of the recipe is. Is there an element of stove cooking required? Do you need to braise some meat first before you transfer to the oven?
If you do, I would recommend that you braise the meat in a cast iron skillet or something similar. Once you have done this, transfer the meat into a pre heated casserole dish. This will replicate the cooking of a dutch oven.
If the lid is not tight fitting, you can attempt to seal it using a flour mixture. This will join the pan and lid together making it airtight. It can be a little messy but the results are good.
Alternatively, if you have a slow cooker, this will also replicate the slow cooking style of a D.O.
Stock pots are known to work too, although this is not something I have used.
Whatever method you choose, try and understand what the recipe is trying to achieve and why. A little lateral thinking and you can achieve similar results.
Is it wise to cook bread in the dutch oven?
There are two aspects to this question…can you cook bread in it and is it a good idea to do so.
If we consider whether you can first.
The simple answer is yes, you can indeed. In fact, people have been using these Dutch ovens to bake bread in them for many years. They used this method for good reason.
For example, the Pennsylvanian Dutch used this method as their lifestyle meant that they carried very little with them. They therefore had to use what they had to make as much variety as possible.
The reason why they work so well is simple. They retain the moisture and steam within the oven meaning that it remains soft inside. The heavy base of the oven works the same way as a stone hearth. The result is a fantastic loaf of bread. The method then involves removing the lid in order to brown it and create a crust. The results look sensational.
You are effectively creating artisan bread that has a consistency similar to sourdough.
Is it wise to cook bread in a Dutch oven…hell yes! Perfect breads using no-knead recipes are as simple as it gets. It is very difficult to get them wrong so even the most inexperienced baker that achieve great results.
Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Given that you own a cast iron pan and an enameled Dutch oven, what are the uses for a non-enameled Dutch oven
It is fair to say that they are for different purposes. They both still have a place in your kitchen.
A seasoned cast iron cookware is still a fantastic piece of equipment. They were originally designed to be used over open flames, therefore are considered to be more robust. They can be handled roughly and can be lightly abused without major consequences.
They could also be used with metal utensils without scratching. The non-stick properties are fantastic for a properly seasoned pan.
Essentially now they are sold as outdoor appropriate products however, things like skillets are appropriate for indoors.
The advent of the enameling process was more to make the seasoning process redundant. Seasoning on a pan can be very delicate. You can remove the seasoning relatively easily by making a mistake.
The enameling process essentially makes your cookware easy to maintain as it is much more forgiving in the cleaning process.
The vitreous enamel surface is non-stick too and therefore it is easy to use all the time without having to season your cookware.
They essentially are the same thing bar the convenience of the maintenance. However, I find that when braising meat, the cast iron version does a better job.
The enameled versions do look better in my kitchen though as they can be fantastic colors and with intricate designs.
Can I use an enamel coated Dutch oven to deep fry?
Yes, you can. The flexibility of this cookware means that they are capable of doing many things, frying being just one of many. Their ability to heat evenly and retain heat make them great for this task.
Before you do start frying though, be aware that if your enamel is light colored inside the pot, there may be a risk of discoloration.
If you are going to use your Dutch oven for frying, please follow some basic safety advice. There is an inherent increase in risks of fire using stovetop deep frying. Be safe.
Take some basic fire precautions. Have a fire extinguisher to hand and also a damp cloth to place over a fire should the worst happen.
To deep fry, you need at least 2 inches of oil, therefore the pan should be at least 5 inches deep. This still gives plenty of room for the oil to rise safely. If you are unsure of the size, fill it with 1/3 oil.
To fry successfully, you need to fry at the right temperature. Since there is no automated way to tell the temperature, you will need a thermometer. A meat thermometer is particularly good for this scenario.
Make sure you heat your oil up slowly and start with a cold pan and oil. It will take 5 – 10 minutes for the oil to heat.
Whatever you do, do it safely. Take your time and do not take any unnecessary risks.
Is there a dutch oven that does not leach into food?
Yes, there is. They are called clay dutch ovens and as the title suggests, are made from natural clay. They are proven to be 100% free of any leaked materials. Clay has been used for thousands of years to make cookware. Not only is it safe, it is cheap and easy to produce.
Clay is a natural material that is free from any contaminants and metals.
Standard cast iron dutch ovens are known to leach iron into the food. This is uncontrolled which poses a very small risk to a small number of people. In most cases, the levels are pretty low and harmless.
In some cases, the added iron can be a benefit. For those with low levels of iron and low intake, it can be a boost to their diet.
Clay ovens do not have the same levels of versatility as the cast iron ones. Therefore, if you need stove top to oven cooking, then a clay version may not suit your needs.
What is the best way to clean an enamel Dutch oven?
Under normal circumstances, they are easy to clean as they are non-stick. However, there are circumstances where food can stick to the inside.
Heat spots will cause food to stick as will burning food. This cookware is not designed to cook dry hence any food cooked in this way will cause food to stick. The enamel thinning unevenly may also cause issues for you.
Most manufacturers recommend that you soak the enamel cookware in hot water and leave for approximately 15 minutes. This should release any food residue.
Do not scrub with any harsh surface like steel wool. This will scratch and damage the enameling causing your further problems.
Failing this, there is another method that is used commonly.
This method involves boiling water in your Dutch oven. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat until it simmers. Once it has simmered for a while, add bicarbonate of soda. You need very little of this, a couple of tablespoons.
Using a flat wooden spatula or ideally a silicone one, gently scrape the tuck on food. It should remove easily after this.
Repeat the method if you need too but it is unlikely you will.
Both methods are perfectly safe to use on enamel cookware. Always better to try the first method initially as it is little effort.
Always dry and cast-iron cookware once you have washed and cleaned it. Remember, its easier to do this than have to deal with any rust spots.
What makes Le Creuset better than enamel casseroles at half the price?
The price is always subjective as it may not be worth it to you, but to others, it may represent a bargain. The cost of things is wholly dependent on the benefits you believe they bring you.
Therefore, it could be over priced…it also may not be.
If we take the view of the price in relation to the market, they are the most expensive. They like to tell you why too. Their cast iron cookware uses the finest cast iron, their pieces are unique in that no two are the same. No less than 15 people are involved in the production process so it is labor intensive. All this costs money hence the justification of the high pricing.
In tests completed by Cooks illustrated, the Le Creuset Dutch ovens came out on top on all the performance metrics considered. They were robust, heated evenly and were easy to clean.
In cheaper cookware, they use highly automated production which results in inconsistent ovens. They tend to be lower quality cast iron and lower quality enameling. The cast iron is a lot thinner which means it does not retain heat as well and it will create a lot more heat spots. The thinner enameling will wear quickly too.
You therefore have a choice as to what you value. Pay more for quality or pay less with the understanding that the quality and performance will not be similar.
For more information on the Cooks Illustrated tests; https://www.cooksillustrated.com/equipment_reviews/1728-dutch-ovens
Is a heavier Le Creuset dutch oven better than a lighter one?
The reason why some ovens are heavier than others is the amount of material used to make them.
Therefore, if it weighs more, it is because more cast iron has been used to make them.
This has benefits, Heavier pans distribute the heat more evenly and there are fewer hot spots. This results in a better cooking result and consistent experience. They are slower to heat though but retain heat for longer.
The lighter ones have thinner walls which means less cast iron used in the construction. Yes, they will heat up faster but that is not necessarily a good thing. They will also lose heat faster which is not a good thing with one pot cooking.
We can therefore say that the qualities that a heavier oven brings is beneficial to your cooking experience.
There may be circumstances where you may desire a lighter Dutch oven. They can be quite heavy and difficult to handle. You may have trouble lifting and moving it. You may therefore opt for a lighter version to make it easier for you.
Although traditional ovens are constructed in cast iron, you can get stainless steel and aluminium versions. They obviously do not retain heat like a cast iron pot but they weigh much less and can have decent heat distribution. They are obviously much lighter too.
Why is there such a disparity between the prices of Lodge’s cast iron dutch ovens?
Lodge cater to different markets and therefore have products that meet differing needs. They do not do anything different to any other company.
The price differences reflect the different sizes mainly and I’m sure they base their price on internal and external factors.
There is nothing sinister in the pricing, they can charge whatever they like and you can spend your money wherever you like too.
How to fix a broken Dutch oven?
If your cast iron oven has failed in some way, a crack or a chip, it is pretty much redundant. It cannot be fixed in terms of correcting the damage.
Once this happens, it is not a good idea to continue to use them. They could completely break at temperature spilling hot food and liquid everywhere.
If it breaks in anyway, its ruined.
The difference approach can be taken in the enamel is chipped or broken. These can be repaired by specialist companies. It can be quite expensive so be sure that it is worth doing rather than buying a new one outright.
How do I test whether my Dutch oven is healthy?
There is a simple test you can undertake to determine if your Dutch oven leaches toxins.
Only clay ovens are determined to be 100% free of toxins.
The test is called the Alkaline baking soda test. The process is relatively simple.
Boil 3 cups of water in your oven. Once it starts to boil, add 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Continue to boil for a further 5 minutes.
Once the water has boiled, turn of the stove and let the water cool. Its time to taste.
Can you taste metal, if you can, it is what you are eating. If the taste is of rubber, it is from the chemicals in the enamel. To compare the taste, stir a couple of teaspoons of baking soda into water. This is the basic taste in comparison to the test version.
It’s a relatively simple test but you can easily see where your food is being affected by external tests.
When choosing a Dutch oven, how important is the raw material it’s made of?
The raw material of the product you choose is important when cooking. Almost all products leach some kind of some toxin which leads to an acidic taste in the food. These toxins can accumulate within your body over time and can cause illnesses over the long term.
How to prevent rust from forming on my cast iron dutch oven
It is imperative that you spend some time drying your cast iron cookware. Failure to do so will result in rust.
Once you have washed your cookware, you can do either of the following. You can either put it on a stove and heat it to a point just before it starts to smoke. Do not let it smoke as you will start to remove the seasoning.
The second method is to put it in the oven on a high heat. Remove before it starts to smoke.
The point of this is to drive moisture out of the cast iron. Using a paper towel, use this opportunity to add a thin layer of oil to season it again.
It’s this level of maintenance will keep your cookware performing great for many years.
Can I cook acidic food in a bare cast iron dutch oven?
Of course, you can. However, you need to be aware of the consequences.
Making highly acidic food will cause your cast iron to leach iron into your food. We have discussed the merits of this but it is not particularly desirable. It can introduce a metallic taste to the food and it may also add some discoloring to the food.
Acidic food will also remove the seasoning. You therefore need to season your pan much more frequently to maintain its non-stick properties.
Do Le Creuset pots last forever?
No, of course not but if they are maintained properly and treated with care, they will outlast your lifetime. It is well known that often this cast iron cookware is handed down from generation to generation.
If it is a cast iron pot, you need to keep it dray and properly seasoned. This will prevent rust and prolong the lifetime of it.
If it is enamel cast iron, you need to ensure the enameling stays intact. Any chips or cracks will eventually cause rusting.
Therefore, it really depends how you care for your Le Creuset.
What is the best Dutch oven for baking sour dough?
Any oven should be good enough to bake bread. The specific bread that is baked is no-knead bread. This allows you to bake at a really high temperature whilst retaining the heat and moisture in the pan.
Does food really taste better when cooked with cast iron cookware?
It really depends is the truthful answer. Some things you can do fantastically well in a cast iron pan such as searing. The consistency of the heat makes it brown better thus taste better.
The reality is that the seasoning does not impact much on the taste. Once oil reaches its smoking point, it loses its flavor. If anything, there can be a minor metallic taste that is iron leached from cast iron. The flavoring from the seasoning is minor at best.
Maillard reactions are also possible in cast iron, but that is more to do with the heat rather than the cookware you are using. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction. It is between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, which is done by adding heat. It is known as non-enzymatic browning and is very much like caramelization.
When it comes to searing, there is no better cookware than cast iron. They are more resistant to burning food and can operate at higher temperatures. This means more even cooking. They do take time to heat up but the heat distribution is better than no other.
Obviously, there are some disadvantages to cast iron that I have already discussed. To summarize though, they are heavy, sometimes really heavy. This means if you are older or unable to lift weight, this is a problem, especially when it comes to cleaning.
They also need care, plenty of care. Once you use them, you need to ensure they are totally dry otherwise you risk rust appearing.
You also have to season them regularly and the initial process to season them is time consuming.
They can also be quite brittle as cast iron is. They can be damaged easily if dropped and you cannot repair cast iron if a crack appears in it. Therefore, handle with care.
Having said all this, I have been using cast iron Dutch ovens and skillets for many years without problem. Friends of mine have complimented the taste of the food coming from my cast iron cookware, better than theirs they say. I wouldn’t swap it for anything else.
What does a cocotte cook?
A cocotte is exactly the same as a Dutch oven…and also referred to as French ovens. They are one of the same. Cocotte basically means small oven. Therefore, anything you can do in a Dutch/French oven, you can do in a cocotte…. because they are the same thing.
So, cook away and try the following in your cocotte;
Can I roast my own coffee beans in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven?
Yes, you can roast your coffee beans in cast ironware. Obviously, they are not particularly designed for this process but it can be done.
The results you get will be inconsistent at best.
The first step is to roast your green coffee beans in your cast iron pan on your stovetop. It will create a lot of smoke and the roasting will be uneven, no matter how hard you try. Some will be brown, others won’t.
Be warned too, it may stain your pan.
So, there you have it, you can roast your beans but there are better ways of doing it. I would recommend a machine designed for the process. Some people are a little more inventive and have adapted pop corn machines.
How to adjust oven temp and time when baking with Le Creuset
In most cases, you can simply reduce the cooking time by 25% as the heat generated, moisture and steam retained speed up the cooking process.
Alternatively, reduce the cooking temperature by 25%.
The best thing to do is test it to see what delivers the best results. Ideally somebody has done the ground work for you by giving you a recipe specific to this method.
What is the function of humidity in a Dutch oven?
Humidity in the oven basically makes heating more efficient and therefore reduces the cooking time. Adding humidity increases the conductivity of the oven.
There is an impact on the food to as less moisture is evaporated and more retained within the food. The result is a higher amount of moisture in the food which makes it better.
What’s the difference between cast iron and cast aluminium cookware?
Cast iron is incredibly robust and it’s use in cookware is time proven and stood the test of time. In fact, many items, if cared for properly, are passed down generations. They are created through a process of liquid cast iron being passed through a mold.
Cast iron retains heat very well which results in consistent results with fewer hot spots.
If seasoned properly, they are almost non-stick. A concern was raised many years ago around the amount of iron leached into food. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it is an essential vitamin. However, it is not appropriate for some people.
The concerns over the iron content resulted in enamel cast iron being produced. This formed a protective barrier between the food and the cast iron. Again, this is not technically non-stick but it does release quite easily.
Aluminium cookware is also made in a similar way. Liquid aluminium is cast in molds too. It is much lighter in weight but it is not robust like cast iron.
Aluminium has a much softer consistency and can easily scratch. It also pits easily when cooking acidic food.
There were concerns about aluminium cookware too. When cooking acidic or alkaline food, aluminium was being leached into the food. This is dangerous for the human body.
This led to anodized aluminium which is much harder and led to less aluminium being leached into food.
However, concerns still remained. hydroxide poison is produced by vegetables cooked in aluminium. This has the effect of neutralizing digestive juice which can cause stomach and gastrointestinal issues.
It is always better to stay away from aluminium cookware due to the higher risks associated with it. In many countries, aluminium cookware is banned.
Can I use a ceramic Dutch oven on a stove to boil water?
No. That’s the simple answer…and don’t even attempt to try it. Ceramic is classified as bakeware. It needs to be heated evenly hence why it is used in the oven. Oven cooking heats the air which warms and then heats the ceramic smoothly
If you try and use it on a stovetop, it will heat unevenly. Some parts will expand faster than others which will result in the dish breaking, with potentially dangerous consequences.
So, the simple answer is no…and don’t try it.