Monday, January 16, 2012

Dutch Oven Magic

It's been a year since I purchased my Dutch oven, and while it has seen plenty of use, I had yet to use it as truly intended.  That is to say, I've done plenty of stovetop cooking but no baking.

With our current transition to a family dinner with the Moose (rather than Moose eating at 6 and us eating at 8 or later after the Moose was in bed), and the attendant challenge of getting food prep done with the Moose underfoot, I finally cracked open the Glorious One-Pot Meals book I purchased along with the Dutch oven.  The basic premise is that, by layering raw ingredients in a particular order within the Dutch oven, with a very precise liquid to dry goods ratio, a completely cooked dinner of starch, protein and vegetables can be achieved in around an hour.

Can you tell I was skeptical?

I started by finally ordering the metal Le Creuset replacement knob necessary for high-heat oven cooking (the One-Pot Meals all cook at 450F; the plastic knobs that come standard with all Dutch ovens - Lodge as well as Le Creuset - cannot withstand that heat).  I'm happy to report that it was a perfect fit on my Lodge oven.

I chose to start with a chicken recipe involving a bottom layer of pasta (I used whole wheat), topped with chicken breasts, fresh herbs, mushrooms, pearl onions, olives, chard and canned tomatoes.

One hour later, I cut into a chicken breast to test and was stunned to find that it was cooked perfectly!

I have gone from seriously skeptical to wildly excited!  If I can speed up my knife skills and cut my prep time down (it was seriously dismal this time!), I expect I will have a Friday mainstay (which yields enough for leftovers AND a freezer meal)!  I also hope I will be brave enough to try some of my own adaptations next time around and, therefore, have a recipe to share.

Do you have a favorite Dutch oven recipe?  I'd love to hear it!

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1 comment:

  1. I love my Dutch ovens - I have the papa size and a baby size. I'm trying to think of meals that I don't cook in them since we use them all the time. Baked beans for one (Ina garten's maple recipe), osso buco, short rib ragu, short ribs in red wine, chicken with vinegar and creme fraiche (that last one came from a recent food and wine issue). Almost all of these recipes require some work on the stove first - usually brown meat, cook onions et al, add sock, bring to boil then stick in oven for hours. Happy cooking!