This summer has been exciting with so many big container ships from Spain coming in including Spanish clay cookware: cazuelas, cocotes, y ollas! All are made for culinary application and are safe to cook in. Cooking in clay dates back to at least Roman times and are used today in many countries across the world. We like to use them because they tend to hold in their moisture better making the finished product more tender and flavorful.
Cazuelas are shallow in comparison to their deeper cousins the cocote and olla. Most of our cazuelas come with no lid but if you think you’ll need a lid then I recommend you shop for the cazuela con tapa or cazuela with lid. The cocote is very similar except that it is about twice as tall as a cazuela. Cocotes are wonderful when you are preparing something that needs more height. What if you wanted to cook a whole chicken? What if you have a multiple layered gratin for a wintry day? Ollas are the traditional soup pot of Spain. Use for home made stocks, stews, beans…cocido madrileño anyone? No matter which style you choose, they are all a beautifully rustic way to show off your latest culinary creation.
But how do I take care of my new clay cookware?
Cazuelas are kiln fired at 2000̊ and are brittle when new. They should be soaked in water for six hours prior to use for the first time. They must be immersed in water rather than filled with water as that can cause the glaze to craze. You will want to quickly resoak your cazuela again for approximately 10-15 minutes before use to prevent cracking. Especially if you live in such a dry climate such as myself.
Cazuelas can be used over direct flame (gas or electric range) on low to medium (high heat not recommended), in the oven, or in the microwave. Start them with the burner on low heat. When the rim is warm to the touch, you can turn the heat up. Heat diffusers are great if you are uncertain of your stove tops intensity.
They may be washed in the dishwasher if they are placed so the rims do not bang against another dish as this may cause chipping. The cazuelas are durable if soaked and not subjected to abrupt temperature changes.