A cast iron Dutch Oven is a versatile (and heavy) cook pot that can be used for lots of food preparation including stews, chili, soups, meat and steaks, and baking. You can use a Dutch oven directly in or over a campfire. Some Dutch ovens allow you to add coals to embers on the lid to create more even heating and a convection oven effect. The heavy metal Dutch oven provides relatively even heating of the food. There are two types of Dutch ovens:
- Legless Dutch Oven: The legless Dutch Oven works best on stoves, or suspended from a chain over a fire. These normally have a flatter lid and do not work well if you want to add fuel on the lid. Use this Dutch oven as you should any pot.
- The Legged Dutch Oven works well directly in campfires. You can place the Dutch Oven in the embers of a fire and then add embers or briquettes to the lid. The lip on the lid protects the contents from the ashes. You normally need 3/4 of the heat on the lid and 1/4 below the pot. If you are using the lid for heat be sure to turn the lid 1/4 turn during cooking for more even heat.
With either Dutch Oven be sure to invest in a lid lifter. The lid will get very hot and a lifter makes the hot lid much easier to handle. Be sure to properly clean and season the Dutch Oven after each use. With a little care a Dutch Oven should last many decades.