1 November 2011

Spanish Terracotta

There is nothing quite like cooking in Spanish terracotta, it creates a warmth in the kitchen simply to look at and when you have a casserole bubbling away in a clay pot or traditional cazuela there is no denying the Spanish influence at work.

The Spanish cazuela or 'clay dish' is without doubt the most famous of Spanish glazed clay but there is so much more available, almost every shape, size and function either hot or cold every kitchen needs a little Spanish earthenware...

Made from mud... Spanish terracotta is literally that, mud, there are two types - white mud which is usually used for hand painted ceramics or brown mud (as a loosely used term in Andalucia) which is used for the more rustic of pieces including the terracotta cazuela and all of its many cousins.

The versatility of Spanish clay has been recognised for centuries, back in the day clay was used for almost every cooking vessel in the kitchen and arguably went out with the ark and has now made a significant comeback. Ask any budding cook, Spanish chef or even an old school Andalucian house wife and clay cooking is were its at, in fact Andalucia never lost the conception, yes there are paella pans when cooking a  good old rustic family paella, but one can still be conjured in a flat cazuela not to mention tapas and other hot dishes in the extensive array of pots and cooking trays available. The old fashioned Spanish kitchen is a wonderful place to visit, terracotta lies nested on shelves, a certain rustic influence that is typical all over Spain.

Well used terracotta becomes 'seasoned' after every use, particularly when used regularly over a high heat or naked flame, a Spanish cazuela or cooking tray really isn't christened until it achieves that fire licked black edge. A certain shine becomes evident as does weight in a well used terracotta piece, cooking in clay develops with every casserole, soup, leg of lamb, rice dish or braised rib and will certainly stand the test of time. Look after your Spanish terracotta and will look after you.

Made in unusual designs Spanish terracotta comes in all shapes and sizes, take the 'sarten' for example, the ultimate in simplicity... The sarten (frying pan) is a small terracotta cazuela with a handle. The handle itself has a hollow cavity running its length meaning that the handle remains cool when you have piping hot food over the grill or gas hob at the other end, simple works so why complicate things!?

For a more comprehensive look at Spanish cazuelas and other terracotta cookware take a look here and discover the versatility of 'mud from Spain'

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