Dutch Oven Yum!
Last year, after wanting one for quite a while, my friend Kim gave me her extra dutch oven. I was thrilled to not have to wait for Christmas to get one and at the same time intimidated by it’s heavy, difficult-to-care-for nature. The picture is of the one I have, a 6 quart dutch oven that weighs a whopping 15 pounds!
I started my cast iron cooking adventure by using it to make soups. To this day, I swear the soups I make in that piece of cookware taste better than any soups I’ve ever made. Maybe my cooking skills have evolved or maybe there’s just something about the general, subtle flavor the cast iron imparts. I’m inclined to say it’s the latter.
I have no soup recipes to share, just the basic process. In a bit of oil in my already oiled, well seasoned dutch oven I throw in chopped vegetables of every kind. Whatever is in my fridge…carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes, peppers, zucchini, garlic (ALWAYS-5 or 8 cloves!), mushrooms, squash maybe even. I saute for a few minutes, then add a few cups of chicken broth, fresh herbs if I have any, a scoop of brown rice, Israeli couscous or barley. If I have some leftover chopped chicken, I toss that in. I also, almost always throw in a cup or two of frozen, pureed squash of some kind. It thickens the soup, gives a bit of flavor and is the only way any of my children eat squash.
This mixture simmers then, with the lid on, for an hour or so depending on what I’m doing and if I’m paying attention. I usually make double so I can freeze half for a rainy day.
The recipe that I simply must share however is this (it’s cooking in my oven this very minute!). It’s written in my cooking language, so pardon me if it seems a bit relaxed…
Dutch Oven Pot Roast with glazed vegetables
One 2 1/2 – 3 pound inexpensive cut of beef (trim any fat if possible)
Kosher salt and fresh pepper
1 onion, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
7-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
Fresh herbs, whatever is handy, rosemary is my favorite
Preheat oven to 300°. In large skillet, brown the meat (whole) in some oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and perhaps some fresh rosemary. Place into dutch oven.
(This is the best part) While the skillet is still hot with oil, pour some red wine in and scrape the pan. Let it cook down a bit. Drink some wine. Throw all the veggies into the pan. Add some broth or wine or oil as needed while the veggies get delightfully glazed with the fat/wine mixture. Don’t cook the veggies, just brown them, med-high heat, not too long.
Toss the veggies in on top of the meat. Pour in a bit more wine, the cup of broth along with the can of tomatoes.
Cover, place in oven for 3 hours or until meat is fork tender.
Here now you have two choices: You may eat the veggies with the roast per normal roast eating. Or you may remove the veggies, put them in the blender and make an unbelievable gravy to pour over your roast (and some potatoes should you choose to cook some up). I prefer the second option and then I use the extra gravy to make beef barley soup with the leftover beef.
Maybe it sounds long, but it is truly very labor light. And the house smells so good while the meat cooks slowly.