Your Best Dutch Oven Recipes
My mom asked for a small dutch oven for Christmas, so I got her a nice 4-quart model. I thought it would be nice to also give her a hand-written recipe along with whatever pantry ingredients she would need to make a nice meal. I have three challenges:
1) My mom lives alone, so it can't be anything very difficult, or else she'll say that "it's too much work for just one person."
2) Nothing too fancy, meaning no expensive cuts of meat or very advanced cooking techniques. Her skill level is intermediate at best.
3) Leftovers should reheat well.
Basically, just some good homey dutch-oven cooking. I'm thinking soups, chili, stew, etc, but I'm open to all your ideas.
Thanks in advance!
long slow braised short ribs - all sorts of recipes are out there but they are pretty hard to mess up, it just requires patience! And the cut is cheap in general. My only challenge with it is to be patient when browning the meat before it goes into a braise - a nice dark crust makes it much more delicious! My personal fav recipe is from Sara Moulton's weeknight dinners (in the make ahead episode) If it's for company I follow the recipe to the letter, but I find it a little fussy so I skip most of the other steps (generally centered around obtaining a lovely lump and grease free sauce) and just end up with delicous meat when it's just me and DH.
I make my mom's version of beef goulash in a 4qt dutch oven. Boneless chuck roast - about 2.5-3# cut into 2" chunks and seared in a little oil. To the seared meat add a pound of sliced onion and stir so the onions deglaze the pot. Turn to low, add 2 large bay leaves and 6 whole cloves, pepper (don't salt till the end). Cover and braise on a very low simmer on stove (or in oven) for at least 2 hours, until the meat is fork-tender and the juices have reduced to an intensely-flavored and fairly thick gravy. This freezes VERY well, reheat in microwave.
Pot roast is great for dutch ovens, too. You can start it on the stovetop and then toss it in the oven for long periods. Like the short ribs above, it's all about buying a decent cheap cut of shoulder, browning it patiently to a nice crust, taking it out long enough to sautee the aromatic veg (onions, celery, garlic, herbs, then toss the meat back in, add enough liquid to just cover the meat (beef broth and/or water and/or red wine), bring it to a boil, then stick it in a 325-degree oven (? I should double-check that temperature... but my memory suggests that basically anywhere from 300-340-ish is a decent lowish temp foir this particular process) for 3-5 hours. Toss in potatoes and carrots the last hour or so, and you've got a hearty, delicious meal that reheats and reheats easily.
This is a great, flexible, easy recipe, too, that's very healthy. I am usually too lazy or in too big of a hurry, or lacking in the supplies to do the saffron yogurt part. The soup is just fine without it!
If she doesn't like big, leafy greens, or doesn't want the trouble of cleaning them, she could used bagged, washed spinach as well. It's just more broken-down texturally.
An extremely easy veal stew preparation is to sauteed sliced onions and sliced mushrooms in the bottom of the DO. (Can use pre-packaged sliced mushrooms, obviously, to increase the ease factor.) When the onions are lightly golden and the mushrooms are just beginning to caramelize, add in about a pound of cubed veal stew meat that has been dredged in flour. (Teach her the baggie method if she doesn't know it.) Brown that. Season mixture to personal taste with S&P, thyme. Then add one small can beef consomme (salted or low-sodium)*** and one-half cup of bread crumbs. Combine, cover and let simmer until the meat is tender. The consomme and breadcrumbs will work together to thicken the broth into stewlike consistency. If desired, add carrot sticks for the last half hour of simmering.
(***I personally would NOT salt this until cooking was complete IF I were using salted consomme.)
Obviously, once she learns the process, it's something your mother can apply to a lot of different meat and vegetable ingredients. It also works well in a medium low oven in a covered ceramic baker. And you know what Julia thought! A little splash of wine in the pot, along with the consomme, never hurts. :-)
A Stracotto is very easy (onion, garlic, carrot, canned tomato, wine and broth) and a nice little pot roast (chuck). All in the pot and cook low and slow. Lots of easy recipes on the net. Serve with mashed potato, pasta, rice, etc. I bet your mom would like it.
I like the mahogany beef stew recipe from epicurious. Based on some of the comments, I cut the hoisin sauce in half and added mushrooms and some potatoes.
This reheats well. I make the recipe and freeze much of it in individual servings. It's great over some noodles.
Here's the recipe: