Dutch Oven Week

I had a Lehman’s gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so when I found myself with a half hour to kill in Kidron last week, I stopped by the store to purchase this beauty — the Lodge Pro-Logic 7-quart cast iron Dutch oven. And thus began Dutch oven week at the Amstutz house.

I’d been eying these Dutch ovens ever since last summer, when I covered the National Dutch Oven Gathering in Wooster for a local newspaper. The attendees were serious Dutch oven enthusiasts, having traveled from all over the country just to camp out at our county fairgrounds and cook. A few even had fully equipped chuck wagons to go along with their pots. I was amazed at the variety of foods they managed to prepare in their cast iron cookware.

So anyway, I brought my new pot home and (since it was preseasoned and ready to go) promptly tried it out. I plopped in a whole 5-lb chicken (it fit with room to spare), filled the pot about half-full of water, and let it simmer on the stovetop. I then deboned the chicken and added it back to the broth with some onions, celery, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and a bag of noodles for a yummy batch of chicken and noodles. Six thumbs up for the Dutch oven’s trial run. So far so good.

Unable to resist the allure of my new toy, I used it a few hours later to make spiced cider for our family to enjoy as we read our nightly chapter of Little Town on the Prairie. Even if I did use my electric stove instead of a wood-burner, I think Laura would have approved.

Now I was on a roll. The next day I took the leftover chicken carcass and made chicken noodle soup in the Dutch oven, tossing in some coconut milk and green curry paste for an Asian twist. Another six thumbs up.

All these meals had been made on top of the stove, so by Monday I was itching to try baking something. I needed an easy meal so threw in a pot roast, some potatoes, carrots, onions and a little water and popped it in the oven for a few hours. I was pleased to find I could squeeze some bread pans in alongside it, and we had pumpkin bread for dinner as well.

What next? Well, we like to do a few vegetarian dinners each week, and it was time to clean out the refrigerator anyway, so I simmered a vegetable soup on top of the stove for supper. Very tasty. The next day, I cooked up a pot of black turtle beans in the Dutch oven and we had rice and beans for dinner.

I had one last test for my Dutch oven — dessert. So in went a big pile of apples and crumb topping and we enjoyed the biggest apple crisp I’ve ever made. Then we enjoyed it again the next day. I’m pretty sure I could feed an army with this pot—or at least a regiment!

And so Dutch oven week drew to a close. My Dutch oven passed its test with flying colors and I am looking forward to trying even more recipes in it. Hmmm…maybe we should have a Dutch oven month. Anyone want to join me?!

Editor’s Note: If you love cast iron cooking, it’s not too late to enter your recipes in our Cast Iron Recipe Drawing! Click here for details. >>