How to Properly Season a Dutch Oven

Dutch ovens are fixtures in hunting and fishing camps from the deer woods of Dixie to Utah's high desert plains. It's easy to understand why: They can be hung over an open fire, buried in a pit of coals, perched atop a gas grill or an electric range or a tobacco burner. In the same pot, you can fry fish, cook bacon, bake biscuits, and turn out the best apple fritters in the world. And nothing surpasses a Dutch oven for game cooking. The secret is in the famous black patina. Cast iron is rough and porous and will rust quickly, but seasoning gives it a rustproof, nonstick coating that enhances flavor and only works better the more you use the pot. --T. EDWARD NICKENS

[1] GET PREPPED Preheat a kitchen oven to 450 degrees. Wash the Dutch oven with soapy, hot water, and rinse well.

[2] DRIVE THE WATER OUT Put it in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pot and let it cool. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.

[3] BAKE THE FINISH ON Now grease the entire pot inside and out, including all lids and handles, with a light coating of Crisco. Place it back in the oven for an hour. Crack a few kitchen windows and turn all smoke detectors off. It's going to smoke and smell like burned metal. Don't worry.

[4] ADD THE FINISHING TOUCH After the pot has cooled down, wipe away any excess grease. Store it with a paper towel inside to soak up any additional moisture. A newly seasoned Dutch oven will sport a shiny caramel color that turns black with use.

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