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When choosing a Dutch oven, you should pick one that suits your cooking needs and is well constructed. You likely will need to choose among cast-iron, stainless steel, or aluminum. A Dutch oven that offers the versatility of going from stove top to oven is best. If you cook for many people, choose one that is deep enough to hold large portions and weight. A large Dutch oven will help prevent messes from liquids that may boil over.
The Dutch oven may be available in a few shapes. Round or oval Dutch ovens are most common. The round shape may fit your stovetop burner more evenly than an oval Dutch oven. It's a matter of preference, as shape will not influence how well your food is cooked or the overall quality of your cooking pot.
If you buy an enamel or cast iron, rather than an aluminum pot, you'll probably have a variety of colors to choose from. Think of your kitchen decor and how well it will coordinate.
When shopping for Dutch ovens, consider the type of lid it uses. Be sure the lid fits tightly and securely, leaving no gaps. Even the smallest gap could cause a mishap such as food boiling over. Also, look for a lid that is break resistant, such as one made of glass-tempered style.
You may prefer an indoor Dutch oven or an outdoor Dutch oven, depending on your needs. The outdoor variety, sometimes called a camp pot, will have three short legs on the bottom of the pot. This is designed for placing on outdoor tables and is a good choice for camping. Indoor Dutch ovens have flat bottoms and are designed for oven and stove use.
Many cast iron Dutch ovens come pre-seasoned. In this process, oil has been applied to the interior of the pot, making it ready to use. The seasoning will also make your Dutch oven less likely to peel when cooking on a high heat.
If you primarily cook vegetables, rice, stews, and soups, you probably won't require a very large cooking pot. If you plan on cooking chickens, roasts, and hams in your Dutch oven, choose one of the largest models you can find. A large model is also excellent for preparing a whole turkey at holiday time.