There are essentially three types of Dutch ovens. Two of them can be found on the internet or at your local store, while the third is a nasty but thoroughly enjoyable practical joke – as enjoyable as practical jokes can be.
For the sake of this article, we will call it the bedroom Dutch oven – more about this surprise Dutch oven later.
Types of Dutch ovens
Outdoor – cast-iron outdoor or camp Dutch ovens
Indoor – Cast-iron enamel Dutch ovens
Dutch ovens by a different name:
Chavunok, Cocotte, Coquille, French Oven, Bedourie, Potjiekos, Chungun, Bean Pots, Braapan, Tetsunabe
What Is an Outdoor or (Camp) Dutch Oven?
The significance of the outdoor Dutch oven is really that it presents you with an opportunity to cook food that you would ordinarily prepare in the household kitchen, outside.
That is particularly useful for people who might not have access to the more modern and common heat sources for cooking, like electricity or gas, as it means you do not have to rely on a barbecue when you do not have access to those heat sources.
Barbecue meat is great but sometimes people just want to eat a more complete meal, even when circumstances are not ideal.
Another significant detail about the outdoor Dutch oven is that it can be used over a fire or wood coals and still produce better meals than those you would ordinarily prepare on your kitchen stovetop.
A classic example of a Camp Fire Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
What Can a Camp Dutch Oven Do?
The outdoor Dutch oven will also always produce better meals than those which have been prepared in other forms of cookware.
Not only can you produce roasts and stews with an outdoor Dutch oven but you can also get away with baking food in an outdoor Dutch oven, often with outstanding results. That includes cakes and bread.
There are very few limits to what you can achieve with your outdoor Dutch oven – quite like the bedroom Dutch oven really.
The outdoor Dutch ovens are also commonly known as camp Dutch ovens, which is appropriate, given that they are most likely to be used at campsites during family outings or school trips.
Camp Dutch ovens were very commonly used by settlers and migrants during the early years.
Firstly because there was no electricity available anyway but primarily because people from those groups were often in transit, which meant there were no other cooking options available to them anyway.
Features of a Camp Dutch Oven
Because a camp Dutch oven will invariably be used above a fire or coals, the base of the pot will be different from that of an indoor Dutch oven. Most camp Dutch ovens have three legs on them. Some are longer than others.
In addition to that, most of these Dutch ovens will come with a flat lid on them – unlike the indoor Dutch oven – which serves to hold hot coals on top of the Dutch oven.
Another defining feature of a camp Dutch oven is that the lid will come with a prominent ridge on it, to limit the prospects of ash or anything else falling into the oven while you are cooking.
Ordinarily, the prospects of any of those things happening will increase significantly when you are out in the wild or deep in the wilderness, where wind and the elements will have a bigger role to play.
Having coals above and below the pot of the Dutch Oven is a technique used primarily for the purpose of baking and more often than not it will work with considerable aplomb.
Types of Camp Dutch Oven Cooking
However, that does not discount the fact that you can also fry, saute, and simmer when you have coals only below the pot.
The reason you can fry and saute so well with this type of camp oven is that the cast-iron Dutch oven has outstanding thermal qualities.
Cast Iron Dutch Ovens and Heat
That is to say that while it might conduct heat slowly, it retains that heat particularly well. Alarmingly well.
Cast iron Dutch ovens are famous for allowing you to cook food at exceedingly high temperatures.
Although that is not something which is always advised as it can have an adverse effect on the performance of the Dutch oven.
Cooking With a Camp Dutch Oven
The lid on a camp Dutch oven is also useful in that you can actually turn it over and place it above the coals while balancing on the handles.
You can then use that lid as a griddle pan, which is pretty useful for those who find frying in the actual cast iron Dutch oven difficult…for whatever reason.
Normally that is because the camp Dutch oven is this huge and deep pot. You can also use your camp Dutch oven in a modern kitchen oven but you just need to be sure to place a sheet beneath it before you roast or bake in there.
This is particularly relevant with camp Dutch ovens but before your purchase any cast iron Dutch oven, you ought to make sure that there are no visible gaps between the Dutch oven and the pot itself.
Something like that would suggest there is a defect of some kind and this will have an adverse impact on the quality of the food that you produce.
Camp Dutch ovens do require some additional admin though. It is nothing major. In fact, it will make your life easier in the end but there are definitely some things worth noting when you do consider the purchase of a camp Dutch oven.
Chief among those will be the accessories.
Firstly, you will need a Dutch oven lid lifter, which is strong and durable enough to actually lift the lid on a cast-iron Dutch oven. There are two things to consider here.
The first is that the Dutch oven lid can be incredibly heavy. Therefore you do not want a lid lifter that cannot handle the weight of your cast iron lid.
The second consideration to make is that the cast-iron Dutch oven can cook at incredibly high temperatures. You can rest assured that the lid will be exceedingly hot when you lift it.
The last thing you need is for that Dutch oven lid to fall on you or anybody else and subsequently burn them. You should take care to have genuine clarity when purchasing the lid lifter for a cast-iron Dutch oven.
While this is probably not as important as the two previous points, it is also worth noting that the lid on a camp cast iron Dutch oven is flat and normally has coals on it. That means that when you are done cooking with a camp Dutch oven, there will be a significant ash layer on the lid.
There are lid lifters available which will help facilitate the removal of the ash left behind on the outdoor or camp Dutch oven lid, by allowing you to shake it without hurting yourself or anybody else. The ash can harm you a little though, so be wary about that too.
Thermal Heat Gloves
On that score, it would also be prudent of you to purchase some suitable gloves to help mitigate the impact of the heat when you are cooking with your camp Dutch oven.
Those can normally be found in any hardware store. Go with the heavy-duty and heat resistant stuff instead of the standard oven mitts. We would suggest going with the old welding gloves.
Tongs to deal with the coals are also normally quite easy to find in stores. Again, we would suggest something that is heavy duty and suitable for handling in extremely high temperatures.
Finally – and this is also not likely to defeat global warming – we suggest that you purchase a sturdy metal table on which to place your Dutch Oven once you are done with the cooking and preparing to serve the meal.
Placing the Dutch oven on wood is not the wise thing to do, given what we already know about the heat retention qualities of the cast-iron Dutch oven.
What Is an Indoor Dutch Oven?
Indoor Dutch Oven – The Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Most indoor Dutch ovens have a flat bottom and a domed lid. These are primarily used by those among you who will do most of their cooking on modern stovetops and even on oven racks.
Most Dutch ovens used indoors now come with an enamel coating and are associated with bright colors that light up your kitchen and dining room.
They can cook off all heat sources – and like the outdoor or camp Dutch oven, they have outstanding thermal properties, which improve the quality of your cooking.
What Are Dutch Ovens Made Of
Dutch ovens are, as we have discussed, predominately made from cast-iron which allows us to carry out the traditional method of Dutch oven cooking.
That is to use a pot with great heat retention and a heavy lid that self bastes and keeps the moisture inside the pot. This then gives us meat that falls off the bone and dishes like stews and casseroles.
Dutch Oven Materials
Over time as with any other product that undergoes an evolution regularly Dutch ovens are made from various materials. Such as:
- Stainless Steel
I often get asked the question “what is the best material for a Dutch oven?”.
My answer will always be cast-iron – to carry out traditional Dutch cooking. BUT…
Cast-iron is heavy and other materials such as stainless steel or aluminum would suit someone who cannot manage a heavy pot. With recipe adjustments, you can absolutely cook a meal in a lighter version of a cast-iron cooking pot.
My mantra is always fresh, nutritious, healthy – one-pot cooking – if that is not in cast-iron – adjust to suit yourself.
What Dutch Ovens Are Called Around the World
While Dutch ovens have their roots firmly established in Europe, the cooking methods associated with them have spread throughout the world.
They have become particularly popular in the United States. However, there is now also a firm footprint in countries like South Africa, Australia, and parts of Central Asia.
Chavunok from Russia
The Russians have something called a Chavunok, which they use to cook in their traditional ovens. You have probably seen one in an episode of the Amazing Race. Not always easy to use, those.
Cocotte, Coquille or French Oven from France
Among the more prominent cast-iron Dutch manufacturers in the world is a French company called Le Creuset, which was established in 1925. The enamel cast-iron Dutch oven is their signature product.
In France, the cast-iron Dutch oven is called a “cocotte” or “coquille”. That is essentially a casserole dish and many will argue that is basically what a cast-iron Dutch oven is. A sophisticated casserole dish.
Tetsunabe from Japan
Japanese – Tetseunabe (Nabe Hot Pot)
In Japan, you will encounter something called a Tetsunabe and/or a sac. Both share startling similarities with something called a Potjiekos Pot in South Africa. There will be more about that a little later in this blog post.
Invariably, the shape and size of the Dutch oven have changed somewhat, depending on where the Dutch oven cooking method has been adopted. The basic structure and cooking technique has not altered significantly though – and that is probably the most important detail.
Changes to Dutch Ovens in the United States
Example of a camp Dutch oven with shorter legs and a shallower oven
Since the colonial era, the United States has become notorious for altering things. The Dutch oven has not been immune to this either.
Over time, the Dutch oven in the United States has become a shallower pot, with shorter legs helping it hover over the top of a fire.
Another defining feature of the Dutch oven in the United States is actually quite an important innovation. Before the introduction of the flange, the coals could still get into the food while it was cooking.
However, the American introduction of the flange has eliminated that problem. The flat lid that has become a common feature over time is also essentially an American invention to hold coals on top of the pot.
The American industrialist, Paul Revere, has received the credit for that.
He operated during the 18th century, which means that some of the changes made by the Americans were almost immediate.
Dutch ovens in the United States were actually a big part of the cultural migration to that country in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the significant changes in the design happened during that period.
What About Ovens for the Dutch?
While the origins of Dutch ovens essentially have their roots in the Netherlands, there is not a considerable amount of literature on the history of the Dutch oven in the Netherlands. That is primarily because the Dutch do not call them Dutch ovens.
In the Netherlands, the more common name is something called a Braadpan. That is essentially a simmer pan or casserole dish. The features of a Braadpan are essentially the same as those of a traditional Dutch oven though.
The evolution of the Dutch oven in the Netherlands, to what we have become more accustomed to seeing in stores today, essentially began in the late 19th century – 1891 to be a little more precise.
That evolution was pioneered by Dutch company BK – now a national institution.
It is, in fact, BK that claims – and rightly so – the full credit for the creation and evolution of the modern Dutch oven.
That is despite some of the work that was done by the British and the North Americans in the period of the First Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) before that.
The work on the creation of the modern Dutch oven began midway through the 19th century, almost exactly (1851).
A key moment in the evolution of the Dutch oven was 1891 when BK first introduced a protective enamel layer to the inside of the Dutch oven.
As is the case with time, the way in which people do things has also evolved tremendously.
Midway through the 20th century, the majority of people in Europe and indeed the Western world were starting to adopt electric and gas cooking.
That brought about the launch of an Aluminium range of the Dutch Oven, which would be most suitable for cooking on stovetops.
Australian Drovers and Dutch Ovens
Example of a classic Bedourie Camp Oven
The Drover became a prominent feature in Australian livestock farming during the early-19th century – well that is when being a Drover was still in high demand anyway. However, the subsequent expansion of the railways in Australian rendered Drovers less essential.
Nevertheless, when the Drover was still an “Australian Hero”, the Dutch oven was an essential item for cooking during long journeys across those barren lands.
The more common name in Australia though is something called the Bedourie Oven. As is the case with most things Australian, there is not normally just a name change but there is also some form of adaptation. The Dutch oven has not been immune to that either.
The thing about the conventional Dutch oven is that it was made from cast iron. When you are traveling long distances on horses, carrying cast iron items can be an enormous undertaking because of the sheer weight. cast-iron Dutch ovens were also a little more fragile and would break when they fell off the horse packs.
A solution was sought after and in this context, that solution was steel. When steel was introduced there was a greater element of reliability about the “Dutch Ovens” Australian Drovers used for their long travels across the country.
Use of the Dutch Oven in South Africa
Example of a traditional Potjiekos Pot
In South Africa, there is something called Potjiekos, still immensely popular in that country today. If you translate it directly to English, you will come up with something called “Small-Pot Food”.
South Africa’s current Afrikaans community is a descendent of the Dutch settlers in that country.
The Dutch began to settle in South Africa in the mid-17th century, which is a little before the modern Dutch oven became popularised.
However, as we have mentioned earlier in this blog post, the cooking methods associated with the Dutch oven were already common in the Netherlands before that.
The modern Potjiekos meal is also a descendent of the more traditional Dutch oven meal.
Similar to the Drovers in Australia, the early consumption of Potjiekos in South Africa was popularised by the Dutch settlers migrating across the country in the early 19th century. They were called the Voortrekkers.
Cooking Potjiekos on fire was practical and clearly the weight of the cast iron was not as much of a problem for them as it had been for the Australian Drovers down under.
The point though is that travel made the use of the Dutch oven (or any of its adaptations around the world) a necessity. A defining feature of the Potjiekos Pot is that it has a round bottom and not the traditional flat bottom that you will find with most Dutch Oven pots.
The Potjiekos meal was originally just a vegetable stew, which then evolved as the Voortrekkers developed the capacity to track and kill wild African game while on their travels.
There is an element of ingenuity about the whole thing that one just has to respect and the Potjiekos meal itself has become common across all cultural boundaries in South Africa, which is an incredibly diverse country. It has become a part of the South African identity.
Depending on the scale of your imagination, you could really go to town on the latter. Much like the conventional cast-iron Dutch ovens that you will find the kitchen, the practical joke does present several dynamic options.
A Surprise Dutch Oven – A Dutch Oven in Bed!
What Is a Dutch Oven in Bed?
Depending on the nature of your relationship with a significant other, the application of the bedroom dutch oven could end a marriage.
Whatever you choose to do, I would suggest that you move with caution and establish meaningful clarity on whether your partner would appreciate the joke.
That will also help determine just how often you can get away with executing the bedroom dutch oven. Some relationships are so outstanding that it will likely have no impact on them at all.
About the dutch oven practical joke itself, it normally requires two things. The first is a significant volume of gas or wind that needs to be released from your body. The second is a blanket that would ordinarily be big enough for the two of you while you are in bed.
We imagine that you can already see where this is going. Yes, it involves farting under your blanket and subsequently lifting that blanket up and trapping your significant other’s head under it. Puerile, we know! But boy is it popular.
The timing of this stunt is really the key to its success and can ultimately determine just how long an intimate relationship between two people lasts. We have a couple of suggestions in mind.
The bedroom dutch oven is likely to be at its most effective first thing in the morning, although it can really be carried out at any time of the day when you are in bed with your partner. However, mornings are when the bedroom dutch oven is best executed.
There are several reasons for that but chief among them is the prospect of catching your “loved one” off guard. In addition to that, the early mornings are when farts tend to be most potent – both in volume and “fumage”.
The experts suggest that this also be done on a cold morning for greater effect, as it would mean forcing an unsuspecting partner out of bed when they least want to do so. Enough about that though.
Dutch Oven Facts
If you are looking to purchase a Dutch oven here are a couple of the first questions people want answers for.
What Is the Best Material for a Dutch Oven?
The best material for a Dutch oven is cast-iron. It heats up slowly then retains an distributes heat inside for even cooking.
I have an in-depth article about Dutch oven materials here – if you are new to everything Dutch ovens it is definitely worth the time to gain further information about this wonderful way of cooking…
How To Choose a Dutch Oven?
Keeping it simple these are my top three things to look for when choosing a Dutch oven;
Choosing a Dutch may seem daunting but there are a couple of basic things to look for when choosing an oven – keeping the process simple – check them out in my article here.
In this article, I dig a little deeper to see that one click here.
Is a Dutch Oven Worth It?
In comparison to other cooking appliances YES a Dutch oven is worth it. This classic cooking pot or oven is made from cast-iron which will, with care, last probably forever.
If you only had a seasoned or enamel cast-iron Dutch oven and a heat source applicable to the oven you would be able to prepare just about any dish.
That cannot be said for most cooking pots.
What Is the Most Popular Size Dutch Oven?
The most popular size Dutch oven would be one that is 5-quart to 7 1/2 quart.
- will comfortably feed a family of 4
- if cooking for less you will have plenty of leftovers – easy meals – love one-pot cooking…
- prepare larger cuts of meat and meat on the bone
Check Out My Favorites
(Click on image to check them out at Amazon)
|My Favorite Seasoned Cast-Iron and Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Ovens|
Lodge Seasoned Deep Camp Dutch Oven, 8 Quart
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Round French Oven, 5.5 Quart
To Finish – Types of Dutch Ovens Including a Surprise One
Whatever your background, we think you will acknowledge that the Dutch oven remains an important institution that is here to stay for generations to come.
With that being said when you purchase a quality cast-iron Dutch oven with the correct care and maintenance it will be in your family for generations…