Cooking with a Dutch Oven (from a beginner)
First of all here’s a disclaimer: I’m not a trained cookware critic, an expert in kitchenware or to be quite frank particularly ‘skilled’ when cooking or baking. But what I am, is a full time working mom, busy with family life, I love hosting people around my dinner table and I do love to try out new recipes… even if they end up in failure! Oh, and I work here at Buy Me Once. So here’s my review of our SAVEUR Selects 3.5 Qt Dutch Oven.
First off, when our Product Research team introduced me to these items I was impressed; cast iron with a durable ceramic enamel coating, non-stick and compatible with all heat sources (so no matter the kitchen I’m in, I'll still be able to use them) but the ultimate thing for me? The lifetime guarantee.
The other main draw to adding an item like this to my kitchen is the lack of storage space meaning a multi-purpose item like this saves me buying another 3-4 needles pieces that can do the same job. Our way of cooking often in our house is: ‘low and slow’ and ‘one pot wonders’. Balancing the juggle with a young family, anything to help my husband and I streamline the daily cooking process is a winner.
On first using this pretty piece of cookware (yes, I have a penchant for the turquoise color adding a nice pop of color to my very brown wood kitchen), I tried to sizzle my onions in it almost immediately. Lesson one learnt: allow the pan to heat up gradually before trying to immediately cook in it. It takes a few minutes to warm up, but then you’re good to go.
Having an enamel coating on the cast iron means cooking something like a tomato rich bolognese (ie tomatoes being the acidic factor) means I haven’t run into any problems with stripping the seasoning of the cast iron.
The enamel means I don’t need to be quite as conscious about how vigorously I’m scrubbing it to get stray burnt bits off, and I can lazily wash it and leave it to dry on the side for a couple of hours (a big no-no in the world of cast iron). Easy to look after? Check.
But, one of the main things I was keen to test out was baking in it. Now, as I mentioned earlier on… I am no expert. When I initially learnt that the rings on the inside of the lids weren’t just for aesthetics, they were in fact to collect moisture, allowing it to then drip back slowly into the pot; I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how this would work when baking in it?! A seriously soggy apple cake and squelchy bread? Surely not.
So, on deeper inspection and chatting with our Product Research team, I discovered the double-walled lids act like thermo flasks do - slowing the transfer of heat between the two metals. But what difference does this make to your cooking?
As you can see from my bolognese above, the rings on the lid collect moisture, self-basting whatever they’re cooking. The rings allow for moisture distribution using the drip edges to spread the goodness.
This feature means anything I’ve stewed or braised has honestly come out of the oven super tender, flavorful and saucy (where needed). Another point on the lid - it’s made from stainless steel meaning it’s a lighter dish to carry, transferring it from the oven to table and serving from has been a doddle.
Anyway, let’s take it back to the baking. Surely from my inexperienced opinion, the moisture collected and spread by the lids features would hinder my futile baking attempts? Well, again I am here to be proved wrong.
Georgie, one of our Product Researchers had the answers: When cooking with the lid on in the oven or on the hob, the goal is to retain heat and moisture. While the double-walling takes care of the heat, condensation rings and drip ridges encourage condensed steam to redistribute over your food. As water droplets cool on the inside of the lid and run down towards the edges, these rings slow the flow allowing the drops to build up mass and eventually drip off the ridge of the rings.
Should the droplets make it past the rings, they'll return to the pot running off a final ridge designed to sit inside the rim of the pan. This process of returning moisture to the food automatically prevents cooking contents from drying out, similar to spooning over juices as you cook.
Okay, moisture is to be fair, key when baking, but inside of the cake - not so much on the outside right?! Well again I was wrong. My delightful experience of baking bread in a dutch oven was a roaring success. It turned out beautifully crunchy on the outside, delightfully ‘holey’, maybe a tad dense, but really really tasty. It tasted a little like sourdough which was a nice surprise too.
All in all, I’d say it was a success and I’d definitely bake some bread in my dutch oven again. If you need a dish with versatility, and you like to tenderize your cooking and an opportunity to explore with your kitchen creations, then I’d recommend a Dutch Oven like this. The Dutch Oven comes in three different sizes: 3.5 Qt (pictured above), 5 Qt and 6 Qt (all sizes come in saveur blue, classic blue and rabbit grey).
Cooking aside, the performance of it has been exactly as I hoped, and the lifetime guarantee gives me full faith that one day, it may be the dish my toddler decides to ‘borrow’ when he moves out one day.