Cooking with a Dutch oven can by a rewarding and delicious experience. The food is generally tasty, as the oven is a slow cooker that allows the food to sit in its own juices and flavors. Most people think of Dutch ovens as pots that one uses outdoors and while camping. While this is true, there are also Dutch ovens that are ideal for indoor cooking on stoves or in ovens. Sometimes these Dutch ovens are called "bean pots." One of the first things you need to decide when choosing your Dutch oven is what kind of material it is made up.
Dutch oven pots come in two types: cast iron and cast aluminum. There are some basic differences between the two kinds. Many people like aluminum pots because they are lighter and easier to care for. They weigh half as much, and you can use soap and water to clean them. When you use cast iron, it is important to season the Dutch oven before you use it. This is when you use oil or animal fat to harden in the pores of the cast iron and form a protective barrier against rust.
You should never clean a seasoned cast iron Dutch oven with soap because the soap will dissolve the seasoning. There are drawbacks to aluminum, however. It cannot take as much heat. If you have too many coals, or if the pot is resting on some of the coals, your aluminum oven can melt.
The other drawback is that they do not retain heat as well. If the day is windy, then your pit made from aluminum will not be able to maintain a constant temperature. Additionally, because the aluminum heats up so much faster that the cast iron, you are more likely to burn your food. Additionally, a cast iron Dutch oven will retain its heat even after you remove it from the hear source, keeping your food warm.
Aluminum cools much more quickly. Whether you choose cast iron or aluminum, though, there are some important things to look for when you are selecting a Dutch oven. First of all, you should make sure that the oven is well made.
You want the bail to be uniform all the way around, and you want the lid to fit snugly onto the pot. It should be uniform and form a seal to keep the heat and the flavor in. A ridge on the lid will keep coals from fall off the tops, and keep ashes from falling into the food.
Another thing to look for is what kind of legs your oven has. A "bean pot" will not usually have legs. It is meant to sit on stove top or in the oven. The outdoor Dutch ovens, however, usually have three legs. You want to make sure that they are a good height (short and stubby will put the bottom of the pot on the coals) and thick.
Skinny legs can puncture the bottom of the pan, collapsing, when heavier food are in them.
For more information on different kinds of pots, kettles, and pans, visit The Pot N' Kettle