Time to resume blogging here. Covid and other activities have been the cause of slow to non-posting. I want to share a rare phenomenon. Dutch Oven. Quite well know in the USA and in other countries, but not so well known in The Netherlands itself, the country where the Dutch live…
A Dutch oven
(not to be confused with masonry oven) is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Dutch ovens are usually made of seasoned cast iron; however, some Dutch ovens are instead made of cast aluminium, or ceramic.
Some metal varieties are enameled rather than being seasoned, and these are sometimes called French ovens. Dutch ovens have been used as cooking vessels for hundreds of years. They are called casserole dishes in English-speaking countries other than the United States (casserole means “pan” in French), and cocottes in French. They are similar to both the Japanese tetsunabe and the sač, a traditional Balkan cast-iron oven, and are related to the South African potjiekos, the Australian Bedourie oven and Spanish cazuela.
Early European history
During the 17th century, brass was the preferred metal for English cookware and domestic utensils, and the Dutch produced it at the lowest cost, which, however, was still expensive. In 1702, Abraham Darby was a partner in the Brass Works Company of Bristol, which made malt mills for breweries. Apparently in 1704, Darby visited the Netherlands, where he studied the Dutch methods of working brass, including the casting of brass pots. Darby learned that when making castings, the Dutch used molds made of sand, rather than the traditional loam and clay, and this innovation produced a finer finish on their brassware. In 1706 he started a new brass mill in the Baptist Mills section of Bristol. There, Darby realized that he could sell more kitchen wares if he could replace brass with a cheaper metal, namely, cast iron. Initial experiments to cast iron in sand molds were unsuccessful, but with the aid of one of his workers, James Thomas, a Welshman, he succeeded in casting iron cookware. In 1707 he obtained a patent for the process of casting iron in sand, which derived from the Dutch process. Thus, the term “Dutch oven” has endured for over 300 years, since at least 1710. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Researching Food History agree that several very different cooking devices were called “Dutch ovens” — a cast-iron pan with legs and a lid; a roughly rectangular box that was open on one side and that was used to roast meats, and a compartment in a brick hearth that was used for baking.
American Dutch ovens changed over time during the colonial era. These changes included a shallower pot, legs to hold the oven above the coals, and a lid flange to keep the coals on the lid and out of the food. Paul Revere is credited with the design of the flat lid with a ridge for holding coals as well as the addition of legs to the pots.
Colonists and settlers valued cast-iron cookware because of its versatility and durability. Cooks used them to boil, bake, stew, fry, and roast. The ovens were so valuable that wills in the 18th and 19th centuries frequently spelled out the desired inheritor. For example, Mary Ball Washington (mother of President George Washington) specified in her will, dated 20 May 1788, that one-half of her “iron kitchen furniture” should go to her grandson, Fielding Lewis, and the other half to Betty Carter, a granddaughter. This bequest included several Dutch ovens.
Westward-bound settlers took Dutch ovens with them. A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest between 1804 and 1806. Mormon pioneers who settled the American West also took along their Dutch ovens. In fact, a statue raised to honor the Mormon handcart companies who entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in the 1850s proudly displays a Dutch oven hanging from the front of the handcart. The Dutch oven is also the official state cooking pot of Texas, Utah, and Arkansas.
Mountain men exploring the American frontier used Dutch ovens into the late 19th century. Chuckwagons accompanying western cattle drives also carried Dutch ovens from the mid-19th century into the early 20th century.
A Dutch oven, or braadpan, as it is used in the Netherlands today
In the Netherlands, a Dutch oven is called a braadpan, which literally translates to roasting pan. Another name for it is sudderpan, which literally translates to “simmerpan” or “simmering pot”. The design most used today is a black (with blue inside) enameled steel pan that is suitable for gas and induction heating. The model was introduced in 1891 by BK, a well-known Dutch manufacturer of cookware. Cheaper and lighter in weight than cast iron, it proved to be a revolution in the kitchen. A braadpan is mainly used for frying meat only, but it can also be used for making traditional stews, such as hachée. Cast-iron models exist, but are used less frequently.
With the traditional enamelled Steel pans the use of cas iron pans dwindled, however we have enamel coated cast Iron braadpannen as well. Also Creuset a French cast iron pan producer has acquired quite some marketshare in braadpannen in The Netherlands.