BBQ Season Just Got Better (and Easier) with This Cast Iron Dutch Oven

published Aug 14, 2023
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putting scallops on a skewer with butter melting in a saucepan on the grill
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

I love firing up my grill and cooking outside. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than by eating a juicy T-bone steak on my balcony with a serving of seasonal vegetables — all cooked on a charcoal grill. Cooking outside has many advantages, including cleanup. There is something deeply enjoyable about not having to worry about oil splattering or meat juices running on my kitchen counter, which inevitably leads to a deep kitchen scrub-down. Yes, cooking outside avoids all those tantrums and I love it. Despite all the joys of cooking outdoors, though, it can seem one-dimensional with only grilling proteins and vegetables as an option … or so I thought.

Quick Overview

What’s So Special About the Smithey Cast Iron Dutch Oven?

The Smithey Cast Iron Dutch Oven takes braising meats and vegetables to a whole new level. It comes in three sizes and can be used on your stovetop or in your oven. However, it performs best when used on your grill.

I started using my outdoor grill as a “braiser” last year.

I love braising

my dutch oven on my grill to braise different cuts of meat. I thought the idea would work because I remembered that on my Aussie camping trips my friend’s parents successfully cooked bread (we call it damper) and seriously awesome baked potatoes in a cast iron pot over the fire.

I didn’t want to break any of my beloved ceramic Dutch ovens, which I use for indoor braises, so I jumped online and purchased something I thought could stand the hot temperatures of a grill. This led me to the Smithey Dutch oven. The cast iron Dutch oven comes in three sizes, although I went with the 3.5-quart option because the size seemed perfect for making bread and doubles up nicely as a bread cloche.

And guess what? BBQ braising definitely works in a cast iron Dutch oven!

What’s So Great About the Smithey 3.5-Quart Dutch Oven?

I initially started braising vegetables to see if the Dutch oven worked as well as I had envisioned. I threw in chunky cuts of zucchini and carrots as well as peeled whole onions with some fresh thyme and a knob of butter before placing the lid on the Dutch oven and putting the pot inside the pre-heated grill. The result? Vegetables that are much juicier, thanks to all the natural juices being “kept” in the Dutch oven, rather than falling onto the coals (what a waste!).

I have used my BBQ Dutch oven braising technique for a range of recipes. The same process goes for meat as it does for vegetables. I haven’t tried fish yet because, in my opinion, fish can be risky unless you are confident in your timing. There is nothing worse than overcooking fish (or any seafood, for that matter) and eating “rubber” for dinner.

You won’t experience that kind of problem with meat, though, as meat (except for steak) is actually better the longer you cook and braise it. I have made pulled pork in the Dutch oven — it’s a simple recipe that yields delectable results. I start by preheating the cast iron Dutch oven in a grill with the lid down, and when hot enough, I throw in the pork and add in a cup of beer or water before adding aromatics like garlic and fresh herbs. I then close both the lid of the Dutch oven and grill and let the meat roast nicely for a couple of hours. When the meat cools down enough, I flake and pull apart the meat, add in my favorite barbecue sauce, and mix thoroughly until the meat is all covered in the sticky sauce.

There is a lot to love about using a Dutch oven in your grill. In addition to creating succulent dishes, another reason is not turning your kitchen into a self-made sauna, which only makes matters worse during summer — especially in the midst of heatwaves. Happy grilling and braising!