Photo: Sara Yoo
Late-night infomercials seem to have the solution to every kitchen conundrum, but I learned quickly that buying into every zealous sales pitch meant cabinets full of single-use gadgets that receive only occasional use.
Photo: Sara Yoo
Late-night infomercials seem to have the solution to every kitchen conundrum, but I learned quickly that buying into every zealous sales pitch meant cabinets full of single-use gadgets that receive only occasional use. So when I dove into my shelves of dusty equipment for a Spring clean-out, I found that several could go in the donation bin thanks to one multitasking pot: my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.
Photo: Camilla Salem
While forms of this essential vessel exist in many cultures, the original "Dutch" oven finds its roots in 17th century Netherlands, where it was a way to recreate the effects of an oven when only an open fire was available. My first Dutch oven arrived in the form of a Christmas gift from my mom who remarked, "You need one of these." She's never been so right. That 5 1/2-quart round Le Creuset became a stovetop fixture as I discovered I could use it for everything, from braised duck ragu to frijoles de la olla, to kimchi jjigae. The flat bottom heats evenly, even on my scary, early 90s-era electric coil range, and everything I simmer, braise, and stew takes on flavor depth unmatched by my other cookware. Thanks to the enameled surface, it's a wonder to deglaze, easy to clean, and incredibly durable. Now the proud owner of three of these do-it-all pots (the 5 1/2-quart round, a 7 1/2-quart round, and a 9 1/2-quart oval), I'm armed for dinner for two — or 20.
For a few of the many uses for your cast-iron enameled Dutch oven, just read on