Get all your Dutch oven tips and tricks from the Dutch oven expert Chuck Forrester.
How to Choose a Dutch Oven
The most common size of a Dutch oven is 12 inches deep, which is usually 8 quarts. This is a great size to cook meats and potatoes. For outdoor cooking, you’ll want to make sure it has 3 legs, a flange lid, and a wire handle.
Dutch ovens come in either a shallow size (6 quarts) or a deep size (8 quarts). To pick a good Dutch oven look for even thickness of the metal. Inspect for any casting flaws, cracks, chips, or warping. Make sure the lid fits and can turn on the body of the oven.
How to Season Your Dutch Oven
Because cast iron is a very porous metal it needs to be seasoned properly. the seasoning process will turn your oven darker creating a patina coating. It is this patina coating (darker sheen) will keep your Dutch oven from rusting. it will also make your oven a nonstick cookware and add extra taste to whatever you cook in your seasoned Dutch oven.
Many Dutch ovens come pre-seasoned, however, if your Dutch oven doesn’t come pre-seasoned follow these four steps to season your own Dutch oven.
1. Wash in very hot water using a nylon scrubbing brush and a small amount of mild dish soap.
2. Dry your Dutch oven completely getting all the moisture out.
3. Coat all parts of your Dutch oven with shortening or vegetable oil inside and out including the handle.
4. Place your Dutch oven in your kitchen oven upside down and place the lid on top of the legs and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. This process can also be done on your outdoor BBQ grill.
The Equipment of a Dutch Oven
The most basic items for a Dutch oven are:
Metal bucket and small shovel
How to Cook in a Dutch Oven
For frying, boiling, or steaming, it will require charcoals on the bottom.
For simmering, roasting, or baking, it will require charcoals on the bottom as well as the top.
For the amount of charcoals always use this formula: double the amount of the size of your oven. This formula will create a 350 degree oven. When splitting the charcoals on top and the bottom place 1/3 on bottom and 2/3 of the charcoals on top.
Example: for a 12″ Dutch oven use 24 charcoals total.
How to Clean Your Dutch Oven
A well seasoned Dutch oven can be cleaned simply by wiping it out with a paper towel or clean dish rag.
If the cleaning requires a little more work, heat up a small amount of water in your Dutch oven and scrub it out with a nylon bristle brush.
The Do’s and Don’t of a Dutch Oven
-Do use your dutch oven often. The more it is used, the better the seasoning will become.
-Do wash immediately after use. Food is easiest to remove when the pan is still warm.
-Do dry completely after each use. This will prevent rusting.
-Don’t use metal utensils on your dutch oven. It can scrape away the seasoning.
-Don’t use soap when washing. It can strip the seasoning.
-Don’t wash in the dishwasher.
-Don’t let your pans soak in water. This will lead to rusting.
-Don’t give up on your cast iron dutch oven pans. Even if they become extremely rusted, they can be saved. Simply scrape away the rust and season your pan again. With the proper care, these pans will last for generations to come!