Dutch Ovens (Enameled/Cast Iron Pots)


dutchoven7The Dutch oven (or cocotte) has been around for over 300 years, and are the perfect kitchen pot for slow-simmered dishes like soups, stews, and braises when you want to create flavorful sauces and super-tender cuts of meat.

With straight, high walls and heavy tight-fitting lids these cast iron pots are designed to trap heat and moisture, creating the perfect stove-top (or oven) slow cooker effect.

Their heavy-walled sides and bottoms allow for greater heat conductivity and retention, ensuring food cooks evenly. And they can go from stove top to oven!

What to look for when buying 

The best ones have a lid with an inner dome interior, this allows the air inside the pot to circulate creating a convection-oven effect, as well as create a self-basting effect.

Although you can recreate this using parchment paper (a ‘cartouche’):

The convex center allows accumulated moisture to drip directly down, instead of down along sides
The convex center of the ‘self-basting’ lid on the left allows accumulated moisture to drip directly down, instead of down along the sides as those with flat inner lids.

Cut a circle the size of the inner lid, crumpling it a bit so it points down into the pot and touches the meat you’re cooking. What it does:  (1) acts to control the rate of evaporation, which in turn slows the reduction of moisture since there is less liquid-to-air surface for the liquid to evaporate from. (2) By allowing the condensation to drip back down directly onto the meat, it self-bastes. (3) It slightly reduces the temperature of the main body of liquid so that it is less likely to reach the boiling point – allowing a slower braise, resulting in a more tenderized meat.

Lower priced models will state in their manual that they are good for temperatures only up to 375°F. However this is due to a lower quality knob that is not recommended at higher temperatures. But that can easily be remedied with a quick trip to the hardware store – remove the screw holding the knob and replace with another metal oven safe one.

The are two types you can choose from, both with their own pros & cons

Bare Cast Iron:dutchovencast

  • Inexpensive
  • Durable – will not scratch surface with metal utensils, and can better tolerate sudden temperature changes
  • Cooking with acidic foods can remove surface seasoning (although can be re-seasoned) and impart a slight off-taste to the dish
  • Dietary iron is health beneficial for most people

Enameled Cast Iron:

  • Significantly more expensive in comparisondutchovenround
  • No seasoning is required, easy cleanup as foods are less likely to stick
  • Cooking acidic foods does not react with the enamel coating
  • Use wood utensils to prevent scratching of the enamel
  • Avoid sudden temperature changes (ie. pouring cold water into hot pot), as the enamel can crack

By far, my preference is an enameled Dutch oven, and when taken care of these pots can last generations. So the slightly higher purchase price is well worth the investment for these enameled pots, not to mention they are far superior at preventing foods from sticking.

While Le Creuset may be the leader in quality for Dutch ovens, their price point is by far out of reach for most households. Their 4 quart size starts at $250,  which is the smallest size you’d ever want to use for a family of four. Thankfully there are many other great quality brands available for a quarter of the cost of those by Le Creuset.

GFC Tried & Tested Recommendations

Dutch Oven Cookbooks

While the recipes in these cookbooks may not all be gluten free, they are a great foundation to start from and can be easily substituted and tweaked to become gluten free.

All the products that we have recommended have been tried and tested in our Gluten Free Club Test Kitchen, and have been chosen as our top picks based on their:

  • Efficiency
  • Quality of the task they are designed to do
  • Quality of manufacturing/Longevity
  • Usefulness
  • Best value for your money

If you decide to purchase any of the items we recommend, Amazon will send a small percentage of the purchase price to the Gluten Free Club (at no extra cost to you!). We appreciate and value your support, thank you!

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