If you read Becky Krystal’s guide to Dutch ovens, you know that the pot is a true kitchen essential, a workhorse unlike any other that can get just about every job done. Stews? Braises? Deep—frying and bread-baking? A Dutch oven can do all that — and more!

If you need some inspiration to dust yours off and use it to its full potential, read on.

The ultimate stew pot

Red Pepian, above. Dutch ovens are well regarded as a stew pot, so put yours to the test with this saucy, bright chicken stew from Guatemala. Sesame and pumpkin seeds add nutty notes and thicken the base. We like to throw in some extra seeds on top as a garnish.

More cozy stews: Kabocha Squash and Peanut Stew, Ground Turkey and White Bean Stew, Tomato Stew With Basil Dumplings


Keep it saucy


(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Yassa Chicken (Poulet Yassa). If you’ve got a dish that requires some sauce, a Dutch oven is great for keeping everything warm without letting ingredients getting too stuck to the bottom. This Senegalese recipe has a short ingredient list and a big payoff.

Other saucy delights: Chickpea Meatballs in Aromatic Tomato Sauce, Caribbean Smothered Chicken With Coconut, Lime and Chiles


Get that bread


(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Overnight Dutch Oven Bread. When you want to make a beautifully crusty, artisanal-style loaf but don’t have much experience baking bread, your Dutch oven is the key. You’re sort of creating an oven within your oven (ovenception?) and also using the Dutch oven to preserve the shape of the bread. This recipe from our Baking Basics newsletter series is a wonderful place to start.

Other breads you can make in a Dutch oven: No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread, Mark Furstenberg’s Rye Bread, Indian Cornbread


Fry, fry away


(Justin Tsucalas for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Pork Milanese With Gribiche. This dish is a love-letter from a writer to her husband, and also a lesson on why you should fry in a Dutch oven! High sides and even heating take the stress out of frying with extremely hot (and splattering) oil. Your reward is this gorgeously crispy pork cutlet.

More fried delights: Classic Fried Chicken, Taim FalafelFried Fish Sandwiches With Tartar Sauce


Braised meats


(Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Wine-Braised Pot Roast. The way a Dutch oven circulates heat makes meat fall apart. This pot roast is the perfect example of that: the meat becomes extremely tender, and because of all the time it spends mingling with wine and aromatics, it’s supremely flavorful, too. Read all about braising, the flexible, foolproof path to tender meat in Becky’s guide here.

More delicious braises: Coq au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine)Braised Short Ribs With Star Anise and Lemongrass, Braised Chicken Thighs With Tomatillos


Soups and Chili


(Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post; food styling by Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)

Tomato and Eggplant Soup. Dutch ovens look the part when it comes to a hot bowl of soup. Take this veggie-packed tomato soup that’s sure to have folks coming back for a second bowl.

Additional slurp-worthy soups: Caramelized Cabbage Soup, Pork Chili Verde, Back Pocket Cauliflower Soup

And everything else:

Sesame Chicken Cabbage Rolls. Nestle these into the bottom of a Dutch oven, then gently steam them to tender perfection.

Overnight Chicken. A slow-roasted chicken? So perfectly tender. All you need is your trusty Dutch oven and a good night’s sleep to get this simple chicken on the table.

Steamed Rice With Cumin and Potatoes. You’ll get a gorgeous crust on the bottom of this vivid golden rice with your Dutch oven.

Slow Cooker Cannoli Cream Rice Pudding. Yes, even dessert! This creamy and delicious pudding can be made on the stovetop in a Dutch oven.

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