Innovative Dutch Ovens

Published July 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

Overview:

We love our favorite Dutch oven, but when we looked around at new options, we pondered the possibilities of even more. One claims to speed up cooking with aluminum ridges on the outside of its base. Another boasts a silicone oil chamber in its base that promises to build heat slowly, retain it evenly, and prevent scorching. And one has a lid that locks in place for straining and a keep-warm bowl for nesting in the pot. To test these out, we browned meat and made it into stew, deep-fried a pound of frozen French fries, steamed 4 cups of rice, and timed boiling water.

The results? Mixed. The groove-bottom pot excelled at deep frying, but browning meat or cooking rice forced us to drastically lower the flame—or get a burnt-on mess. The pot with the built-in strainer scorched any food that touched its thin walls near the base of the pot, and large solids blocked the strainer's exit, rendering it useless. Only one pot delivered: That silicone oil chamber, which is sandwiched in the pot’s base, retained heat brilliantly and never… read more

We love our favorite Dutch oven, but when we looked around at new options, we pondered the possibilities of even more. One claims to speed up cooking with aluminum ridges on the outside of its base. Another boasts a silicone oil chamber in its base that promises to build heat slowly, retain it evenly, and prevent scorching. And one has a lid that locks in place for straining and a keep-warm bowl for nesting in the pot. To test these out, we browned meat and made it into stew, deep-fried a pound of frozen French fries, steamed 4 cups of rice, and timed boiling water.

The results? Mixed. The groove-bottom pot excelled at deep frying, but browning meat or cooking rice forced us to drastically lower the flame—or get a burnt-on mess. The pot with the built-in strainer scorched any food that touched its thin walls near the base of the pot, and large solids blocked the strainer's exit, rendering it useless. Only one pot delivered: That silicone oil chamber, which is sandwiched in the pot’s base, retained heat brilliantly and never scorched even when we allowed chili to simmer in it unattended for an hour. Its unwieldy size was the only factor that kept it a notch below our winner.

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