While in recent decades metal cookware has been the most common, an increasing number of home cooks have begun to discover the reasons that other materials were so popular before the advent of metal pots and pans. Clay pot cooking has been used in cultures around the world for thousands of years, and modern chefs are finding that it is still used in many places because of the delightful flavors it imparts to food along with other, more personal reasons.
Those who are considering purchasing and using this type of cookware need to be aware that there are some differences, including how to prepare the cookware. While most of the pots and pans found at the store simply need to be washed before use, clay pots require seasoning first. This is very similar to that of cast iron skillets, which some people may have more knowledge regarding.
Seasoning a clay pot will make it more durable and less inclined to break. This is especially important if the pot is to be exposed to direct heat, such as on top of the stove. While some manufacturers state that it is not necessary for ones only to be used in the oven, seasoning it, in the beginning, will allow the cook more options in the future for cooking with it.
To begin seasoning, the clay pot needs to be soaked for a couple of hours. Then, it should be patted dry and rubbed down with a clove of fresh garlic. The unglazed surfaces require a light coat of olive oil to help seal and strengthen the finish.
There are two methods for proceeding from here. The first involves filling the pot three-quarters of the way full with water. A diffusing agent needs to be placed on a burner between it and the pot. Then, the burner should be turned on very low. The water needs to be brought to a simmer for two hours, with care taken that it does not dry out. Alternatively, it can bake in an oven set at 225 for two to three hours.
Once the pot has been properly seasoned, it is ready for cooking meals. This method requires little-added fat, making it healthier than many other forms of cooking. Also, these pots retain most of the moisture in the foods, creating moist and delectable meats and vegetables every time. Even though a minimal amount of moisture escapes during the cooking process, it is important that the chef makes sure the meal does not become dry while cooking or cleaning the pot will be very difficult.
When using clay pots you must start cooking on low and increase the temperature slowly. You should not cook on medium-low if you are cooking on a direct flame and aren’t using a heat diffuser. If you are using a diffuser, you shouldn’t raise the temperature above medium.
Clay pot cooking has been used on almost every continent on the globe to create regional delicacies. Owning one or more assists the modern chef in simulating these meals or even in the preparation of traditional western fare. They are healthier to use, and the foods made in them are often more tender than those made in metal pots.