Dutch ovens are special cooking vessels with a tight lid, usually made of cast iron. In France the Dutch ovens are called cocottes and in the UK casserole dishes. Dutch ovens are a very versatile and durable type of cookware. You can use it for baking, frying, boiling, roasting, stewing, sautening and every other recipe that requires slow cooking. Because they are mostly made of cast iron, their durability is really impressive.
There are basically two different types of Dutch ovens: the cowboy or camping Dutch oven and the modern Dutch ovens. The first has three legs and a bail handle so it can be placed on a cooking fire. Usually this type of oven is made of bare cast iron or even aluminum.
The modern Dutch are designed for cooktops and oven use and they have a smooth bottom. They are usually made of enemeled cast iron and because of that they have a nice glaze and can be manufactured in many vibrant colors. Furthermore the enameled version is easier to wash. The modern versions of Dutch ovens have two loop handles while the old style ovens retain the bail handle.
The most popular Dutch oven manufacturers are Lodge (unglazed old style and modestly priced), Le Creuset (beautiful colorful glaze and more pricey) and Staub (made in France, glazed and beloved by chefs).