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What to do with a giant cast iron Dutch oven?

My wonderful boyfriend got me a huge cast iron Dutch oven for my birthday... In may. I haven't really used it yet, mostly because it's kind of dauntingly large and heavy. What should I make in it? How do you use your Dutch ovens?

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  1. Any idea what the capacity is, starburn? The are generally measured in quarts.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Terrie H.

      Giant isn't a precise enough measurement? :)
      I think 9 quarts.

      1. re: starburn

        Well damn, that IS giant!! ;p

        Will be great for pot roasts, briskets, whole chickens, etc. Probably not too useful for weeknight dinners for 2, but making some weekend meals with good leftovers for freezing.

        Again, wow - that must weigh a whole lot!

        1. re: Terrie H.

          Yeah, it weighs a ton and I've got no upper body strength to speak of so it's a little daunting

          1. re: starburn

            My suggestion is to do a little searching on this board and your favorite other cooking sites for braising, pot roast, short ribs, braised and/or roasted chicken - anything that comes to mind that could be browned then braised in the same pot. That's the beauty of the cast iron. If lifting it in and put of the oven when it's full, rethink your cooking method so you can cook in top of the stove. And make sure the BF is around to help with the heavy lifting should you need it!

        2. re: starburn

          9 quarts. Nine.

          Good lord, if you haven't used it yet, can you exchange it?

          6 - 8 quart works great for soup, stews and the lovely no knead bread recipe. But 9 quarts? It does show your guys complete love for you -- "Bigger is better, and she deserves the best!"

          And he must think you are small but mighty. Yow!

          1. re: happybaker

            You hit the nail on the head, it was a totally sweet gesture that he ordered a full month before my birthday because he heard me mention that I wanted one. I'd love to get another smaller, preferably coated one (sometimes it's hard when people give you thoughtful gifts and you aren't able to specify the one you want, isn't it?) once it won't seem like I'm replacing his gift. In the meantime, I'd like to get some use out of this one, but will probably need him to lift it

          2. re: starburn

            That is a really big dutch oven. I would have returned it. I mean how often am I making a braised dish for 18 people? But, you do own this lovely thing, so I suspect you want ideas more than my sympathy.

            Do you have any freezer space? What do the two of you love to eat during the winter? I would concentrate on these types of things.... make really large batches of a beef stew, traditional chili, duck ragu, bolognaise... anything with a saucy component will freeze beautifully.

            1. re: starburn

              Basically everything I make in my 7 quart except I have a little more room, baked beans, chili, soups, gumbo, étouffée, goulash act

              ok I was thinking it was enameled cast iron. If it's plain iron then remove the ones with tomatoes.

          3. Mine gets used for long braised of roasts, stews, etc. (so not so much use over the summer!) But lately its been getting called into action to make dog food. But that's another story!

            1. The giant cast pot that I have is round with a sloping bottom, so it's more of a cauldron...really that's what my guy calls it. it's easy 9 qrts, I leave it on the stove and use it for just about anything that isn't tomato based. Soup, stew, stir fry, some deep frying. I blanched all my winter veg in it, and lots of fruit/jam type stuff.

              It is one heavy mother to lift tho.

              1. Cassoulet! Lots and lots of cassoulet. I accept leftovers, just sayin'.

                1. Can you return it and get something smaller?