Cooking with a dutch oven is one of the easiest forms of outdoor cooking. If you’ve ever used a slow cooker, then you can cook with a dutch oven. Dutch ovens are large cast iron pots with a heavy rimmed cover and short legs on the bottom. The pots are designed to stand above a bed of hot coals with more coals heaped on top of the lid. The food inside of the dutch oven is cooked from the radiant heat coming from the top and bottom of the pot. Dutch ovens come in a variety of sizes and picking the best size of oven depends on what you wish to cook in it.
The most common size dutch oven is the 12 inch diameter oven. Dutch ovens sizes are classified by the diameter and the depth. The 12 inch models are available in a normal depth and deep depth dutch oven. A normal depth dutch oven is 3 3/4 inches deep and will hold about six quarts of food. These ovens are great for cobblers, crisps, beans, breads, and smaller roasts or cuts of meat. Most dutch oven recipes are designed to be cooked in the 12 inch normal depth dutch oven and this is the most popular size of oven on the market.
You can also get a 12 inch deep dutch oven which is 5 inches deep and holds eight quarts of food. The deeper oven gives you more working room to cook larger meals like breads, whole chickens, or standing rib roasts. The deep dutch oven will also work with any recipe designed for the shorter style oven.
Dutch ovens also come in larger and smaller sizes ranging from eight to 16 inches. Smaller ovens, like the eight and ten inch models are great for desserts and beans, but may not have enough volume for stews and roasts. dishes. If you are planning to cook for two or three people, then an eight in oven may be a good choice. You can also stack smaller ovens on top of larger ones to efficiently cook an entire meal. The main dish could be cooking in the larger 12 inch oven while the side dish or dessert is cooking in the smaller oven standing on top of the larger one.
Larger ovens, like the 14 and 16 ovens can hold very large cuts of meat like pork shoulders or whole turkeys. But they are a poor choice for desserts and beans, unless you are planning to cook for a large number of people.
Dutch ovens also come without legs. These ovens are not designed to be used on with a charcoal fire, but instead can be placed in your oven. This gives you the ability to cook with a dutch oven in your kitchen without having to deal with the charcoal fire. For outdoor cooking, look for an oven with with legs on bottom and a rimmed lid for the top. These ovens are designed for outdoor cooking as the legs let the oven sit above the bed of charcoal, allowing for air movement underneath and the rimmed lid keeps ash and coals from falling into your food while lifting the lid off the pot.
Dutch oven cooking is a great way to put together a no hassle dinner in the outdoors. Like using a slow cooker, once the oven is loaded with ingredients it often can be left alone. Only a periodic check and replenishing the coals is all that is needed for a great meal.