Autumn Cooking Tips: Go Dutch!

A chill to the air. Vibrant foliage. Trips to the apple orchard. Hay rides. Fall brings to mind many things for many people. For foodies, however, the change of season means one thing above all else: The return of...

A chill to the air. Vibrant foliage. Trips to the apple orchard. Hay rides. Fall brings to mind many things for many people. For foodies, however, the change of season means one thing above all else: The return of autumn's amazing flavors. It also means it's time for Dutch ovens to assume their rightful places on countertop across the country.

Still haven't gotten in on the Dutch oven action? Let's take a closer look at what makes this versatile piece of kitchen cookware a must-have when it comes to preparing many of the hearty "comfort food" recipes we know and love at this time of year.

Autumn cooking
Drawing a blank slate when it comes to fall meals? Dutch ovens offer tasty new possibilities.

What's a Dutch Oven?

The term "Dutch oven" can be a confusing one -- particularly if you're unfamiliar with this go-to kitchen tool. For starters, it's not an oven in the conventional sense. Rather, it's a type of cookware which can be used on the stove or in the oven for everything from baking bread and browning meat to braising stews and simmering soups, beans, and chilies. Attempting to tenderize even the toughest meats and veggies? Look no further than the miracle-working Dutch oven.

But Dutch ovens aren't just for entrees. They can also be used to cook sides like rice and other grains, as well as for effortlessly pulling off favorite desserts such as cobblers, crisps, dumplings and even souffles.

Using Your Dutch Oven

There's a reason why Bon Appetit declared Dutch ovens to be "winter workhorses." But what makes Dutch ovens so special? Several factors, including their deep size; thick bottom and sides; and heavy, tightly-fitting lids -- all perfect for locking in moisture during the cooking process while maintaining an even and steady temperature.

If you're looking for one-pot cooking, meanwhile, look no further than a Dutch oven -- the perfect way to pull off a fuss-free yet flavorful dinner.

Choosing a Dutch Oven

Now that you've been won over by the amazing Dutch oven, you may be wondering how to go about buying the best one. Ideally, a Dutch oven's sides and bottom should be uniform in thickness. Additionally, look for one with ovenproof handles and knobs for ease of handling as well as to prevent accidental burns.

Depending on your cooking needs, Dutch ovens come in a significant range of capacities -- from smaller, 2-quart models to massive 12-quart versions. While 3.5-quart Dutch ovens are adequate for most everyday cooking needs, go bigger or buy two if you're planning on cooking large roasts and/or feeding a crowd.

Dutch ovens are also available in a number of different materials, including stainless steel, cast iron and enameled cast iron. For those for whom aesthetics equal outcome in importance, meanwhile, Dutch ovens come in fetching colors like bright red, cheerful yellow, rich blue, and apple green -- making them as pretty as they are practical.

Caring for Your Dutch Oven

While Dutch ovens aren't cheap, they're an investment in years worth of delicious meals -- particularly with the right care and maintenance. The good news is that Dutch ovens are a fairly resilient piece of cookware. Still, depending on the material from which your Dutch oven is made, certain best practices for cleaning can keep it looking its best.

Autumn cooking

By sticking with gentle materials and following your manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and maintenance, you can ensure that your Dutch oven is still producing the tastiest seasonal meals for years to come. Also keep in mind that chips and cracks can interfere with the performance of your Dutch oven so when yours finally does start to show its age, a new one may be in order.

Whether you're just discovering the joy of "going Dutch" or you're a lifelong enthusiast of cooking with this go-to fall favorite, Cilantro The Cooks Shop can help you find the perfect Dutch oven. Browse cookware and more today.

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