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I like mac and cheese. I mean, I really like mac and cheese. Okay, seriously, who doesn’t? That gooey, carb-y goodness is what dreams are made of — especially when complimented by a crispy, crunchy top of caramelized cheese and bread crumbs. As a kid, I grew up on the boxed stuff. While technically mac and technically cheese, its science experiment construction wasn’t the comfort food texture bomb that we’re talking about here. I didn’t find out what I had been missing — that super good stuff — until watching a friend of mine’s mom pull out the biggest, heaviest pot my 9-year-old eyes had ever seen out of the oven to serve me a spiritual experience disguised as cheese and noodles. That was the day I learned that the Dutch oven is magic.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Do I really need to waste all that kitchen space on some heavy, antiquated piece of cast iron that is most-often photographed full of beef?” Of course you do! They can go from the stove to the oven in a breeze — essential for that wonderfully-browned (and these days, dairy-free) mac and cheese I obsess over.
The things are perfect for developing the richest flavors possible out of soups, braised veggies, and sauces. That same heavy cast-iron that makes them a chore to dig out of the kitchen cupboard also provides a consistent, even heat that is perfect for frying. Did I mention you can also bake bread in them? And they last forever, so you won’t be tossing it off to the landfill in a year like some flimsier pans.
Basically, unless you subsist entirely off takeout and frozen, microwavable soy-nuggets, a Dutch oven is going to come in handy. It doesn’t matter if your Dutch oven is an affordable workhorse from Lodge, a bougie status symbol from Le Creuset or Staub, or even a scratched-up hand-me-down you got from your grandma sitting in your storage space, put it to use and make some of the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten.
Dutch Oven Recipes to Try:
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