Dutch About Ovens
As previously mentioned, I enjoy preparing food. Growing it is also agreeable, but another matter entirely, and one perhaps better left to experts. This is a Dutch oven adventure.
Americans inherited Dutch oven cooking in the early 1700’s. Curiously, this is also about the same time the phrase “Going Dutch” appeared because of the intense trade conflict between England and the Netherlands.
They’re now widely used to prepare slow-cooked foods ranging from savory, to sweet. Dutch ovens provide a single-stop cookpot, that can also be used to boil water.
Victoria’s seasoned, 4-Quart, 3.8 L cast iron interpretation features a slightly domed lid, straight sides, and a cured, even surface. I tested for how food tasted, both sweet and savory, cooking space, material quality, convenient handles, and ease of care.
Food Taste Challenge
Uncoated Dutch ovens similar to this one have been known to leave a metallic taste behind in food, especially acidic dishes, that can remove an oven’s seasoning. Victoria passed the food taste test, with a satisfying finish.
Boiling water must have been an essential, and important, use for early adopters of the Dutch oven back in the pioneering world of our colonial forebears. They used them to boil, bake, roast, and fry, whatever they caught.
These versatile pots must have been worth their weight. And, so inspired, I boiled water to begin this taste test challenge, and the result turned out just fine.
Victoria produced a deliciously seasonal, baked Cherry Cobbler topped with a buttery crust of yellow corn meal, and flour, for a textured crunch. Its filling consisted of freshly plucked Brigham City cherries, allspice, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla.
After a wash, rinse, dry, and cure, cooking with Victoria left no bitterness, or metallic aftertaste, in the food I cooked.
Everything cooked through, and evenly. Although I cook daily, I’ll tell you straight, I’m not a pro. But please know, I was unabashedly pleased with the taste quality of the food prepared using Victoria. 5 out of 5.
Round two: Savory. I prepared a family-style Beef Burgundy, with a mixture of skirt steak, and chuck roast, carrots, celery, shallots, garlic, and a sweet, red wine.
This is where cooking space is an important consideration, especially if you’re cooking batches, as I did in this scenario. Every piece needs enough space to brown, like a clown.
Spaciousness generally means faster prep time, and a more meaningful, crispier brown, which is another way of saying, yummy is in town.
I think Victoria would’ve stood stronger had it been 6 to 8-quarts, but that’s just me. I’d definitely keep this one on hand, in addition to the larger one I presently use.
Victoria’s straight-sided area is perhaps better suited to smaller dishes, and breads. It’s more of a medium-sized casserole dish for a family of two, or three, rather than a vessel to feed a hungry hoard on event day.
Nevertheless, Victoria is great iron cookware, for an Enchiladas Suiza, smaller roasts, or Ratatouille, for your famished crew. It boils superbly. 4 out of 5.
Victoria’s seasoned cast iron was durable, uniform thickness that distributed heat evenly, and cooked food, without leaving a metallic aftertaste behind. Its balanced lid boasts a unique pattern of spikes that creates a natural, self-basting cycle.
I didn’t see this, precisely, as the combustion would’ve been too much at such close range, so let’s take this point with a salty grain.
Its top is fitted and grooved, for tighter closure as the magic happens, which felt like quality when they clamped satisfyingly together, and closed, with a cheery thud.
Dutch ovens are commonly available in a variety of sizes, and interesting colors. This model was classic black, that wouldn’t mind a splash of color. Domed lids enhance convection, and look for a 9” width, as a baseline, for decent cooking space. Avoid thinner ovens, that may scotch your hard work before it hits the table.
Victoria produced a wonderful, Beef Burgundy cooked all day, using a mixture of skirt steak, and chuck roast. In this super-slow, and low-temperature cooking instance, everything came together, with au jus to spare. Veggies came out flavorfully, neither mushy, nor bland, and my proteins fell scrumptiously off the fork. 4.5 out of 5.
Why is it, I couldn’t stop hearing “kettle black” in my head during this review? I looked in the mirror, only to be sure.
A word about handling, and handles. They’re important. Victoria’s safe, stainless steel knob made for an easy lift-off with either hand, that also made frequent, and highly necessary, taste-testing easy.
Dutch oven handles can be angled, curved, or straight. Likely, they are available in a wide variety of artisanal variation. Victoria passed the handling test, with two curved handles placed horizontally along either side, that didn’t overheat during use.
I was easily able to maneuver, lift, and move this Victoria oven at every stage of cookery, without complications. Always use appropriate heat protection when you cook on the range, or over blazing coals.
Dutch ovens don’t care who they burn, so please, everyone take the proper precautions, to avoid a scorching trip to hospital. Or worse, burnt food. Don’t accept avoidable burning, handle your Dutch ovens with care.
Only one very small quibble, Victoria’s handle spacing could’ve been just slightly wider, for my hands. 4.5 out of 5.
Ease of Care
As I wash up, I’ll close with thoughts about Victoria’s ease of use and care, which were both seamlessly easy. That said, don’t drop this thing on anything important. It’s highly useful, but heavy enough to break things. Painful things.
Though Victoria is a seasoned oven, I tested it as if it weren’t new because I enjoy the seasoning process, which makes its surfaces nonstick, and lengthens lifetime. If it’s a new thing for you, try it out.
I think my father showed me how to do this on a camping trip through the Adirondack Mountains way back. It’s highly satisfying, like saying one of my favorite words, toothsome meaning, “temptingly tasty.” Here’s how.
Wash the lacquer from new pans in a slightly soapy, warm water bath, and dry thoroughly. Next, rub a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil into the metal, wiping off excess as you go, then, bake it in the oven at 250 F, for about 90 minutes, until done.
This smallish, but highly versatile kettle black is simple to maintain, and it’ll work outdoors, or at home. No downside, other than its minimal size. Victoria is hugely useful, for preparing a cornucopia of different foods. 5 out of 5.
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