10 September 2011

Spanish terracotta - The deep cazuela

Think of Spanish terracotta and cooking and the 'cazuela' immediately springs to mind, that magic clay dish with all the simplicity of a tapas bowl yet versatile enough to create hot dishes over the barbeque or in the oven.

The cazuela can be used in the oven, on the gas hob, on the grill or over naked flame and this humble terracotta dish comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Standard cazuelas will range from 6cm up to the giant 46cm, good for easy Spanish tapas to cooking a full roast. This Spanish terracotta is also available in different forms such as the 'bandeja' - a casserole or square baking tray, again in various sizes. Staying round we also have the 'deep cazuela', this dish is made in exactly the same way as the standard cazuela but has twice the depth.

The deep cazuela is around 13cm in diameter and 7cm deep which makes it ideal for a number of cooking and serving suggestions. Pictured above we have a deep cazuelas filled with olives - great for the busier tapas party as it saves filling up and restocking the olives/nuts or whatever other nibbles that usually get consumed in vast quantities!

The deep cazuela is also designed for cooking, retaining all the qualities of its terracotta cousins all these cazuelas require is a soak in water before first use - this only needs to be done once as after they are cooked in the terracotta will become 'seasoned' ready for next time. Soaking need not take hours but the longer the better in order to toughen up your Spanish terracotta (overnight is good) So what makes the deep cazuela different apart from its depth? Well besides from serving large portions of tapas you can also serve paella, cook gambas al pil pil and a whole variation of piping hot dishes such as bacalao, baked eggs and pies... chicken, steak, fish, the deep cazuela is perfectly designed and just the right size if you enjoy a nice pie! The terracotta has such insulating qualities that a pie will remain hot for hours.

With a lip on each side the deep cazuela is easily handled and quite a robust piece of Spanish cooking equipment, designed for heat or simply to serve olives this cazuela is certainly worth consideration for your terracotta collection.

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