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What to Cook In A New Dutch Oven

As of last weekend, I am the proud new owner of a 5qt enameled cast iron dutch oven (in blue!). The question that has plagued me all week is how to break this sucker in!

Off the top of my head I'm thinking some pulled pork tacos; pork butt seasoned with oregano, cumin and paprika and slowly braised for a few hours. I could, however, use some suggestions on braising liquids if anyone has them to give.

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  1. pork braising liquid? beer!! or with different seasoning than the oregano, ginger ale and orange juice.

    2 Replies
      1. re: eurotransient

        i'm sure it would. no problem. but i can't quite see it with the ginger. i might just bump up the ginger with fresh grated.

    1. A little splash of beer never hurts. Maybe something in a Mexican style with a little splash of lime juice. Those tacos sound really good...

      And of course there's the NYT no knead bread. The recipe calls for a 6-8qt dutch oven, but my 3.5qt one works just fine, so there's no reason yours wouldn't work as well.

      1. Fun! Mine is red, also 5 qt, and I love it. I had two reasons for buying it: coq au vin, and boef bourguignon. I always have on hand chicken and beef stock that i've frozen in ice cube trays. So when I have some time I fry up some bacon cubes, sear one of the proteins in the fat, saute mirepoix, mix a little flour to thicken, tomato paste, add some stock cubes, glugs of wine, bay leaf & thyme, cover and let it cook low and slow. Toward the end also typically add in mushrooms that have been sauteed separately. The sauce is excellent with whole grain pasta too because it can stand up to the texture. The process is gratifying and you'll love it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Niblet

          Oh, I totally had coq au vin and boef bourguignon on the brain when I bought the dutch oven. That said, I went a little overboard with french cooking last weekend (two souffles!), so I'd like to move into another culinary arena this weekend.

          Your description of making both dishes sounds way less complicated than full recipes I've seen!

          1. re: eurotransient

            Souffles! In the dutch oven -- way to jump to the head of the class! What kind of souffles did you make? I must admit, I purchased a gorgeous tureen for just that purpose and I've never made a souffle, ever.

            1. re: Niblet

              Haha, the souffle wasn't IN the dutch oven -- just a regular 'ole ramekin! I made a cheese souffle for breakfast, but that was really just practice for vanilla dessert souffle that night.

              All in all it wasn't so bad, actually! Both souffle's definitely rose, though maybe not to ridiculous, comic effect. They both absolutely came out with the right fluffy texture in the middle. A total success!

              You should go ahead and give it a go! It's really not terribly difficult. I used Julia Child's recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Easy to follow and overall pretty painless to execute! Whipping up those egg whites by hand definitely leaves the forearm a bit sore, though.

              1. re: eurotransient

                Thank you for the encouragement, I'll do it! As it turns out there are a few similar items on my "make soon" list, to which I have just added blue cheese souffle with strip steak. The other items include roast beef with yorkshire pudding, and beef wellington. Puffy with beef seems to be what I'm craving these days.

        2. congrats on your purchase! I got my first dutch oven a few months ago (insert inappropriate joke here) and it has quickly become my favorite tool in the kitchen.

          Some things I have made in just the past few weeks

          white chicken chili, Italian meat sauce, braised lamb shank, deep fried goodness for the NFL playoffs (fill with oil and heat, then drop stuff in!), thai style shrimp curry soup, new orleans style rice and beans.

          It goes in the oven, it works beautifully on the stove. I love it.

          EDIT: to your question on liquids - I would brown the pork in vegetable oil or bacon fat (preferably), then add some garlic and tomato paste, as well as some red onion and hot peppers - I like serranos - and some powdered spices, then simmer that for a bit, pour in some chicken stock and beer, bring to boil, reduce heat and drop in the pork. yum!

          1. Braised short ribs (John Besh or jfoods recipe) and a loaf of no-knead bread.

            1. John Besh's wine braised short ribs. Serve them over polenta - beautiful, gorgeous stuff.


              2 Replies
              1. re: lynnlato

                short ribs braised in red wine over creamy polenta.
                it doesn't get much better.

              2. I am making choucroute garnie in our this w/end. Mmmm...

                1. Make some stock and then use it to create a braising liquid for shortribs or bourguignon...

                  1. So I just put some no knead bread into the oven. About twenty minutes until I take the lid off. I'm not too hopeful, though. It was a MESS putting this thing together! The dough is just so impossibly sticky. I must have gone through half a container of flour just trying to keep it from sticking to me.

                    I guess we'll see what happens! I've got another batch of dough working, though, just in case.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: eurotransient

                      That's why I prefer making Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day. No pan necessary and its not sticky. But the No Knead Bread crumb is slightly better.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        I'm gonna have to look into that. Frankly, what I want is more of a sandwich loaf type thing, but I just don't have the right vessel for it. It looks like the Cook's Illustrated "almost" no knead bread would be a good fit, but the dutch oven isn't going to help with a nice sandwich bread shape.

                        My first loaf of NKB turned out ok. It was relatively tasty, though a bit of flour got mixed into the inside bits of the dough, which made for some dry spots inside. Still, it was my first loaf evah so I can only go up, me thinks! I still gobbled it up with a lots of butter!

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          HUGE fan of that one. Just got a 3.5 qt dutch oven and baking 1-pound loaves of the stuff is pure magic.

                        2. re: eurotransient

                          Find the Cooks Illustrated method (No-Knead Bread 2.0, Jan/Feb 2008) on this board or with a free CI onine membership trial if it's not a free ATK recipe. You CAN skip the brief kneading it calls for. Its genius is using a parchment-lined pan for the second rise, transferring into the Dutchie and baking it still on the parchment. No mess.

                        3. I love mine & you will too! Along with pork shoulder/butt, I make all my soups/stews/chili in it.
                          Also, it makes the best baked beans.

                          Pork- I like a little dry mustard too. I actually use apple juice, if out of it beer. Enjoy!

                          1. Congratulation on your new DO. This is a link to Molly Stevens' "All-About Braising". I really love her book and used so many times. Now I need a new one as my copy has started falling apart.

                            Last week, I cooked Braised Lamb Shanks Proven├žal, simple and really good.

                            1. Don't be afraid to go outside braising meat. I do a delicious "paella" with mushrooms, chicken, fennel and lupin beans. Brown the chicken first in the DO and remove, saute your aromatics, add brown rice or even barley and stock then nestle the chicken back in the rice for a nice slow cook until doneness is reached.
                              so, so good.

                              1. I'm currently doing jumbalaya in your oven's twin! I have to be a little more careful with it, it's got a couple little chips on the outside. Other than that it's awesome. I've done short ribs, chicken in a pot, goulash, soup ... I find myself making excuses to use it!

                                1. So my first full day of dutch oven cooking has come to a close. I picked up a pork butt last night at the grocery and chopped it up into two pieces. The original cut was 7 lbs -- way too big for my girlfriend and I! Frankly, half of that is still too much, so it's gonna be leftovers for a couple nights.

                                  I left the butt in a big piece, which I browned in the DO in some canola oil. Then I took the meat out and tossed in some onions (red and white), and a couple cloves of smashed garlic. Let that cook for a bit, then brought the meat back into the pan and covered it all with my spice mix, which consisted of equal parts oregano, paprika, chili powder and cumin, plus a dash of cayenne and plenty of salt and black pepper to taste.

                                  I rubbed that into the meat in the pan, then added my fluids: A bottle of Negro Modelo, a cup or so of chicken stock (from a can... sacrilege, I know!), a tablespoon of tomato paste and the juice of one lime and one orange. Topped the whole thing off with the squeezed husks of both fruits, brought the mess to a simmer then tossed in the oven at 325 degrees.

                                  Overall, I let the thing cook up for about 3 hours. At that point the meat was REALLY gorgeous (I'm ashamed that I didn't take a picture -- I always forget to do that) and the braising liquid really smelled nice. A little sweet (surprisingly how far a little citrus goes), but not too overpowering. I forked a nice little chunk from the exposed part of the meat and it pretty much just melted in my mouth.

                                  I transfered the meat to a plate and strained out the very spent veggies and let the sauce reduce a bit before putting the pulled meat back into the pot to cook for another hour.

                                  End result was pretty great. I forgot to pick up soft tortillas at the store, but I still had some of the crunchy old el paso kind in the cupboard, which worked in a pinch. For a topping, I whipped together a citrusy (is that a word?) slaw.

                                  All in all pretty satisfying! A great first day with my new cooking buddy :)

                                  1. I made an amazing pot roast in my LC 7 quart dutch oven last night. Lots of red wine and stock, roasted vegetables, reduce the sauce at the end... yum!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tzakiel

                                      What cut of meat did you use? I've got a sirloin tip roast defrosting in the fridge right now. Should be ready for cooking by Sunday, but I'm not sure what to do with it just yet.

                                    2. It is getting cooler so my thoughts return to my mother cooking in heavy tin foil.
                                      However, I am using my Le Creuset Dutch Oven to roast turkey legs. Inexpensive dinner which she was good at.
                                      Ok, she was good at every kind of cooking - almost!
                                      It's only 2:00 pm so I am starting it at 250 degrees and hoping for the best - with frozen green beans, carrots, and onions I will put in later.
                                      She added worcestershire often - as well as a tiny amount of soy sauce.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: LeiLei

                                        You should be fine. Some day I'm going to try the approach which Adele Davis championed: cook meat at the same temperature you want it to be when it is finished. This can mean almost a whole day for a large roast turkey, but is supposed to assure tender, juicy meat.
                                        People who are concerned about the 40-140 degree danger zone will sear, or roast at high heat initially, then drop the temp way down to 150-180.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          The turkey legs turned out great although I turned the heat up to 325 after about one hour.
                                          By about 5:00 everything was cooked - the turkey was moist and we enjoyed the flavors (also celery). The liquid was about a cup of water. No oil at all.
                                          These were rather small turkey legs - and only 3. But a nice dinner for two.