What's so great about the dutch oven?
It's the most versatile pot you will ever own. It will sear or braise meat, saute vegetables, and boil broth for soups and stews. It takes the heat of the oven and a long simmer on the stove top like a pro. The heavy walls make it ideal for creating deep flavors so it's the perfect tool for winter comfort foods. You will have endless possibilities in the kitchen with a dutch oven.
"I can cook these in a crock pot so why do I need a dutch oven?"
Most recipes calling for a crock pot, slow cooker, or Dutch oven start out the same way: "brown the protein, saute the vegetables, add the liquid and cook." With a crock pot you have 2 heat settings; high and low. When it comes to cooking, for me, I'm not crunched for time or looking for the shortcuts that a crock pot offers. It's great for cooking for a family of 4 or 5, or a dinner party at home. It's also fine if you don't care for a crispy exterior on your meats. Using a dutch oven is just as easy for weeknight dinners as a crock pot without sacrificing those deep flavors. Since I'm not consistently cooking meat (which cooks great in a slow cooker when crunched for time) the crock pot just isn't a concern for most veggie eaters, in my opinion. Vegetables shouldn't be cooked past 100 degrees fahrenheit and when pressure cooked for too long they become mushy and not great. In addition, no soup or stew really needs more than a 1-hour simmer, anything more than that is just unnecessary to me. Crock pots are great for when you'd rather just toss everything inside, hit one button, and walk away.
I've collected 5 of my favorite go-to soups and stews when cooking in my cocotte. Everything listed below served as lunches the next day or possibly dinner the following evening. If you have vegetables that have ripened too far beyond repair, blend them and use it in one of the recipes below. Reduce food waste with a pot of veggie stew! I've also noted which recipes can just be tossed in a crock pot.
1. Pot Roast Tacos
cook time: 2hrs 30mins
Do you struggle with finishing the rest of the meat from this week's pot roast? Do you need to retire the roast beef sandwiches? I find tacos to be the best meal to kick off the week or even end the week! Pile on those veggies you skipped over and get creative for Taco Tuesday!
london broil or chuck roast
1 shallot (roughly chopped)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp sumac
sprinkle of black pepper
1.5 tbsp herbes de provence (oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage)
3 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 or 3 tbsp of cooking oil
1/4 - 1/2 c. low sodium broth (can also be water with a dissolved bouillon cube)
1 jalapeno (sliced for topping)
avocado "sour cream" (blended avocado, garlic clove or powder, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp rice vinegar, pinch of salt)
black or pinto beans
lettuce, pico de gallo, carrots, etc.
Wash the roast and pat dry with paper towel. Heat dutch oven to medium-high heat. Add a little cooking oil. Sprinkle garlic powder, sumac, black pepper,and Herbes De Provence on the roast. Sear both sides. Lower the heat and add the Worcestershire sauce. Cover and allow to cook for about 2 hours (depending on the size of your roast) on low heat. Keep roast submerged in water. The longer it cooks the more tender it will be and easier to shred apart. Put together your tacos with beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, jalapenos, and an avocado sour cream sauce.
2. Rosemary-Orange Roast Chicken/ Turkey Gumbo
cook time: 45 minutes
Here's another great idea for using up the meat from this week's roasted chicken dinner. Once you've tired out sandwiches AND tacos toss the meat in a flavorful gumbo! Since my roasted turkey was previously rosemary and orange flavored, I decided to stick with that for the gumbo and just add in a cajun seasoning blend to give it the southern savor of gumbo.
Previously roast Roast Chicken or Turkey (get skin extra crispy to hold up in the stew. By roasting meat with oil and salt to help dry out skin)
2 cups rice= 4 servings (pre-cooked)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
beef bouillon cube (or substitute
4-6 cups of water
1 tbsp cajun seasoning blend
cayenne pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
1/4 cup orange zest (avg. skin from 2 oranges)
5 cloves of garlic
1 shallot, roughly diced
3 large carrots
1 stalk of celery, diced
Prep rice first so that it's at the final stage of steaming when gumbo finishes. Heat dutch oven to medium-high heat. Heat cooking oil, flour, 1/2 tbsp cajun seasoning and stirring slowly and constantly, until the roux is brown, about 12 minutes or so. Add carrots, a little orange zest, some rosemary and stir until fragrant. Add shallots, celery, and garlic; sauté, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 4-6 cups of water, along with the rosemary, orange zest, red wine vinegar, cayenne pepper, remainder of cajun seasoning and whisking to dissolve the roux in the liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat to low. If gumbo is too thin, in a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons canola oil and gradually add this mixture to the gumbo, until the desired consistency is reached. Add the turkey meat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is heated through, about 5 minutes. Feel free to add more orange and rosemary to desired taste. Serve hot with steamed rice.
3. Green Chili using the green food waste
Ever wondered what you could do with the leftover waste from your broccoli, kale and leafy greens, or that bag of spinach that's ready to be trashed? Here's a good veggie recipe that would work in the crockpot. Since the veggies are being boiled or blended down, you don't have to worry about them becoming too mushy and dull. Lots of seasonings will help kick this chili up.
If using a crockpot, just dump everything inside and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. If you use dried beans, crock pot will need to simmer beans for longer to get them soft enough to consume.
1-2 cups broccoli florets and stems
1-2 cups kale leaves and stems
1 cup nut milk (preferably oat since it thickens when heated)
4-5 cups water (with dissolved bouillon cube or broth)
1/2 cup flour
1 large white onion
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 squeezed lemon
1 large carrot, sliced
1 can of butter beans, rinsed and drained
Typically I start with blending broccoli and kale with a little bit of hot water and half an onion. This is the base of your chili, set aside. Heat dutch oven to moderate heat and add cooking oil. Add carrots and cook until beginning to soften. Saute garlic cloves and onion. Once fragrant add in the seasonings and stir. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp flour slowly and mix until it forms a paste and covers the base. Pour broccoli and kale base, stir. Slowly mix in water and milk, stirring constantly until desired thickness. If mixture is too watery slowly add more flour and stir until dissolved. If you used a can of beans, rinse and add them to chili. Beans should be slightly submerged in liquid. Stir and bring to a simmer for about 35-45 minutes. Lastly, add in chopped green chilis, lemon squeeze, and serve hot.
4. Thai Curry
My absolute favorite stew/soup/curry dish EVER! I am a huge sucker for Thai curry and after a few years and failed attempts, I think I finally got it to taste the way I like! The three key ingredients to a successful Thai curry is 2 tbsp or more of fish sauce, coconut cream along with your coconut milk, and spoonfuls of peanut butter. This recipe will walk you through how to make the curry. You can enjoy it with potatoes, noodles, rice, or fresh steamed broccoli.
1-15oz can coconut milk
1/2 package (1/2 cup) coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 spoonfuls of peanut butter
5 garlic cloves
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp lemongrass powder or fresh lemongrass
half a thumb of fresh ginger (don't use powdered)
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp brown sugar
squeeze of lime juice
vegetable cooking oil or sesame oil
Heat the vegetable oil in dutch oven over medium heat, and then add the chopped garlic. Toss well and once garlic is very fragrant, prepare your curry paste by adding in all the seasonings (cumin, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, curry powders), mix into the oil to create a pastey texture. This is the moment where you will add in any meat options or tofu. Add half the can of coconut milk and stir in the spoonfuls of peanut butter, whisk until fully combined. Add the remainder of coconut milk and coconut cream. If mixture is too thick for you add water to thin it out. Bring to a gentle boil and adjust heat to maintain moderate simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until meat is cooked through. Stir in lime juice, fish sauce, sprinkle of brown sugar, then remove from heat and cover to keep curry warm while you prepare your noodles, potatoes, rice, or steamed veggies!
5. Beef Bourguignon with mushrooms
I think beef bourguignon comes in a sharp second place as my favorite hot stew. It's so tasty and flavorful and I love juicy beef chunks that have been simmering in a delicious broth. My secret when cooking with beef chunks, the longer the simmer the more tender the beef. I served this dish with Trader Joe's Polenta. It was my first time making polenta. It turned out just alright. Perfect for this dish but there are several things I would've done differently to the polenta. However, keep reading for the Beef Bourguignon.
2 1/2 lbs chuck beef, cut into 1" cubes
1 tbsp cooking oil
ground black pepper
himalayan salt (any fine salt will do)
1 lb carrots, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup red vermouth, I used T.W. Hollister's American-Distilled Vermouth
2 cups/ 1 can beef broth (or a beef bouillon cube dissolved in water)
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (keep handy in case stew is too watery)
1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce (enhances beef taste)
Preheat oven to 275 degrees fahrenheit.
Prepare dutch oven on the stove at medium heat and add cooking oil. Clean beef chuck and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, brown all sides. Remove the seared cubes and set aside. Toss the carrots, and onions in the pan with all the beef juices. Stir occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant. Add the vermouth, and stir. Add the tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot tight. Place the pot into your oven at 250 degrees for about 1hr 30mins, or until beef chuck is tender.
To serve: make a bowl of polenta, rice, pasta, or steamed veggies! This meal is so hearty and guaranteed to keep you warm.
There's nothing like a bowl of hearty, hot soup or stew to warm you up from the inside-out. With the weather in the northeast picking up the windchill and rainy days on the way, one of these recipes is calling your name. Whether you go vegetarian (green chili or thai curry) or meaty (roast turkey/chicken gumbo), there's a recipe here for you!