A French oven, more commonly referred to as a Dutch oven, is usually used to slow cook a cut of meat, such as a roast. Because a French oven can be used on your stovetop and in your oven, it is a convenient way to sear the exterior of a roast and slow cook the interior to a rich and juicy piece of meat. According to Vernon Winterton, author of "101 Things to Do With a Dutch Oven," this kitchen appliance is a simple way to create a moist and tender roast and helps you get a meal on the table with little active cooking time.
A French oven is often used to slow cook meat, potatoes and vegetables, but you can use it to cook casseroles, eggs and desserts as well. One advantage to using a French oven to make a roast is that you can brown it on your stove and transfer the roast to the oven in the same cooking dish. This keeps the browned bits in the cooking pan, which yields a richer and more intense flavor in your roast. Most French ovens can hold a 3- to 4-pound roast, which will slow cook in two to three hours.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your French oven on your stovetop. Heat 2 tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil inside. Carefully place your roast into the French oven, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the roast on the first side, which takes 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the roast and brown the second side. Remove the French oven from the heat. Pour 2 cups of liquid, such as beef broth or water, into the French oven. Season your roast with dried herbs and spices. Cover, and cook the meat in your preheated oven for 2 to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim any visible fat from the roast before serving it to reduce the total fat content of your meat.
Make your entire meal at one time. Add quartered potatoes and sliced vegetables, such as onions, carrots or celery, to your French oven after you brown your roast. These will add flavor and nutrients, such as vitamin A and potassium. Experiment with your favorite ingredients, herbs and spices. Sprinkle your roast with cayenne pepper and cumin and add chopped onions and jalapenos to your French oven for a spicy meal. Season your roast with rosemary and thyme and add Brussels sprouts and beets for a savory flavor. Use red or white wine in place of broth or water as an alternative way to infuse your roast with flavor.
The length of time it takes your roast to cook in a French oven depends on the size. To be sure your roast is cooked through, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature before serving it. Keep the lid on your French oven throughout the cooking process. This will keep the temperature inside consistent so your roast cooks evenly. It will also help seal in the juices by preventing the liquid from evaporating as quickly. To seal in the moisture even more, allow your roast to rest, covered, for 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven.
- 101 Things to Do with a Dutch Oven; Vernon Winterton
- Just Plain Good Cooking; Bill and Sandy McPherson