Dutch Oven Cooking > Tips and Tricks

Trusting and Peeking


When I first began cooking in Dutch ovens, I lifted lids and peeked a lot more than I do now.  I was always worried.  Was the top browning too fast or was it not browning at all?  Were the contents boiling too hard and the bottom scorching, or had the contents of the oven remained lukewarm?

The only way I could tell would be to lift the lid and take a peek.  I guess that's still the only way to REALLY tell if things are cooking according to plan.

However, my confidence grows each time I cook in my Dutch ovens.  Each time I turn out a delicious dish, I have a little more trust in my ability to regulate my oven temperatures.  Each time, The urge to peek diminishes a little more.

This doesn't mean that I don't peek at all during the cooking process, especially at the end of the cooking time.  There are other signs to look for: How much steam is coming out of the lid?  What do you smell when you're near the oven?  Are the coals greatly diminished in size and need to be refreshed?

Most of the time, I can (to use a bad telemarketing phrase) set it and forget it.  At the end of the cooking time, I open the oven with confidence that the contents will be cooked pretty much exactly as I expected.

Are you a peeker?  When and why do you lift the lid of your ovens during the cooking process?

Oh, I peek, but I'm with you - a LOT less now than I used to.

I have discovered that most of my peeking is:

1) at the end of the cooking time - this one almost doesn't count for me, because you HAVE to check, or
2) when someone is walking by.

It's so much fun to watch people look inside your oven and smell the steam as it boils up at them. And since I've really not found any detriment to the cooking...I like it!



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