Cooking With Clay
From my cookbook, "Cooking in Clay", by Joanna White:
RULES FOR COOKING WITH CLAY
*Clay must be soaked in water for at least 15 minutes before using. Note: If part of the clay pot is completely glazed, do not presoak that part before using.
*The clay cooker is always placed in a cold oven, and then the temperature is set.
*If you wish to add liquid to a heated clay cooker, be sure to heat the liquid first.
*Never use a clay cooker over a burner or heating element. If you wish to make gravy from pot juices, transfer liquid to a saucepan, add a thickening agent and heat until thickened to the desired consistency.
*Avoid using a clay cooker under a broiler. If you wish to have browner meat or crispier food, it is best to remove the cover for 5-15 minutes before removing the cooker from the oven.
*Always set a hot clay cooker on a trivet or pad on a cold surface when it first comes out of the oven to prevent breakage from sudden temperature changes.
*To keep food from sticking and for easier cleanup, line the bottom of the cooker with parchment paper or brown paper. Do not line the lid because you want the maximum steaming effect.
*For recipe conversion I recommend that the temperature be increased about 50 degrees and cooking time be increased slightly (usually 10-20 minutes). Most books recommend increasing the temperature by 100 degrees, but I found that this generally overcooked the food.
*To microwave in clay: Clay pots actually enhance microwaving. Just soak the cooker in the usual manner and follow the standard microwave timing. A general rule for meats is 5 minutes on HIGH and 15 minutes on LOW for each pound of meat used. Increase cooking time if many vegetables are added.
CARE AND CLEANING OF CLAY COOKWARE
*When you first use a clay cooker, soak the top and bottom in water for 30 minutes, and then scrub with a brush or nonmetallic scrubbing pad to remove any clay dust residue.
*Do not use scouring powders because they will clog the pores and make the pot useless. Salt can be used as an abrasive cleanser.
*For general washing, wait until the cooker cools, wash it in water with a very small amount of dishwashing liquid and rinse. Do not put the clay cooker in the dishwasher-sudden temperature changes may crack the pot and excessive soap will clog the pores.
*For thorough cleaning, allow the clay cooker to soak overnight in the sink with water that has 1/4 cup baking soda added to it. Then wash, using a brush or nonmetallic scrubbing pad. Follow this treatment after cooking fish or foods with strong seasoning.
*Ater washing, dry thoroughly and store with the lid inverted upside down in the bottom, ideally with a towel between the layers. Avoid storing the cooker with the lid sealed because it may become moldy if not carefully dried.
*If the cooker should become moldy, make a paste with baking soda and water, cover the clooker with the paste and allow it to dry. When the paste is dry, rinse with water and dry well.
*If pores become clogged, boil the clay cooker for 30 minutes to remove debris.
Sage Meat Loaf
2 lb. ground meat and sausage meat combined
1 cup oats
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup applesauce
3/4 tsp. dried sage
1-2 Tbsp. steak sauce
Soak top and bottom of small clay cooker in water for at least 15 minutes. Mix all ingredients together except steak sauce. Form into a loaf and place in cooker. Brush top with steak sauce. Cover, place in a cold oven and set temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 1 hour or until loaf is well browned.
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup milk
Soak top and bottom of a small clay cooker in water for at least 15 minutes. Blend sugar, oil and eggs together. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and add to sugar mixture with cornmeal. Stir in milk. Line bottom of clay cooker with parchment or brown paper and pour batter on top. Towel-dry inside of lid and place on cooker. Place in a cold oven and set temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is slightly brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
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