What is So Great About Cooking In a Clay Pot?
I haven't had much experience cooking in clay pots but since working with Bill Marback of Romertopf Clay Bakers, I plan to do a lot more. Here is a cooking style that allows for cooking just about anything you like slowly and gently while retaining the juices and flavor.
Did you know Clay Pot cooking goes back thousands of years and was used by most of the early civilizations including the Etruscans, Romans, and Chinese. You can find a variety of sizes and shapes of clay pots based on ancient designs still being used in Spain, France, & North Africa.
Today, clay pots and one-pot cookery is making a comeback in the US and home cooks like us are rediscovering how easy they are to use and love the results they are getting.
How do they work?
According to the Romertopf web site, "As a porous material, the clay in a pot that has been saturated with water slowly releases steam from its pores during the cooking process. Juices released by the food as it cooks cannot escape from the pot. This seals in flavor and keeps food from drying out, without the need to add extra fats or liquids. Along with the flavor, essential nutrients and vitamins are retained in the food."
What are the advantages of cooking in clay pots?
- More juicy and flavorful when cooking meats and poultry
- Crispier crusts when baking breads
- Prevents ingredients from drying out
- Meats can be trimmed of fat
- Chicken can be cooked without the skin
- No need for basting
- One-pot meals - chicken or meat can be cooked with rice or potatoes and vegetables together
What type of clay pot should you buy for cooking at home?
This will depend on what you plan to cook. Romertopf Clay Pots, conceived by Bay Keramik in 1966, is one of the most popular brands of unglazed clay pots available. They have a wide range of pots for cooking just about anything and come every size and shape imaginable.
The classic Romertopf clay pot is rectangular in shape with deep sides and a domed top but and comes in sizes that can handle 4 to 14 pounds. They also make a selection of Bread Bakers, Garlic Roasters, Chili Bowls, Utensil Holders and more.
How To Use a Clay Pot?
According to Bill Marbach,
- Soak clay baker in water for 10 to 20 minutes. Completely immerse both top and bottom.
- Place food in baker and it is ready to go in the oven. All the ingredients for a complete meal can be placed in one baker.
- Place your baker in a cold oven. Set the correct temperature and let the oven and baker heat up gradually.
- When serving your meal, enhance the decor by leaving it in the handsomely embossed terra-cotta baker.
- Remember to avoid sudden temperature changes. When removing your baker from the over after baking, keep it off of cold surfaces.
- Where can you find classic Romertopf Clay Bakers?
There are a number of major cookware outlets that sell Clay Bakers. I suggest you take a look at Amazon.com. There you will find a large assortment of clay bakers in all sizes and shapes as well as clay pot cookbooks and accessories.
One of my favorite sizes is the Romertopf 4-Quart Baker with a 14 pound capacity.
Where can you find Clay One-Pot Recipes?
I highly suggest you take a look at The Cook's Encyclopedia of One-Pot & Clay-Pot Cooking. My sister-in-law gave me a copy for Christmas one year and the recipes are fantastic. Not too difficult and filled with great tips, the recipes I made from this book were delicious.
I also just posted a fun clay pot recipe for Clay Pot Beef with Red Peppers. Check it out if you have a moment.
If you are looking for an alternative cooking method that's both natural and healthy, you'll want to explore the world of one-pot clay cooking.
onlinesources: Clay Pot Cookwares
There are lots of sources for purchasing top Clay Pot Cookware and I suggest you check out your local department stores and kitchen supply shops.
I have an old clay cooker that I've had for years. It is a Litton cooker and the recipes are for microwave cooking. My question is: Can I safely use this clay cooker in the oven?
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Joy, don’t know much about these clay cookers but if you do a search, you can find a lot of information about them and get an answer.
Hi! I know this question is old, so I'm sure an answer has been found, but I wanted to respond incase anyone else came to this page with a similar question:
I got an old Littonware Simmerpot used but brand new, it came with the original instructions. The instructions state it is safe for microwave, conventional, and convection oven. Any clay pot recipes should be safe in your Littonware. The original recipe book and instructions only have recipes for the microwave but clearly state they will also work in the oven. Hope someone finds this helpful!
I would love to know how to use it. Mine is glazed on the inside. So could you explain to me if I soak the whole bottom and top in water for 15 minutes. Or just put water in the glazed bottom and and top and soak for 15 minutes. Also should I heat it in the oven for so long before I ever bake in it the first time. Do I do this soak it in water every time before I use it? Any help is appreciated.
Clay pots crack when small air bubbles in the clay expand with heat. Soaking the entire pot temporarily seals these holes and the heat evaporates the water rather than expanding the air. Before first use, the entire pot should be soaked for around 2 hours. For each subsequent use, soaking the whole pot for 15-20 mins should be sufficient. The interior glaze prevents the pot from absorbing too much food flavours from each individual dish you cook
G. Stephen Jones
Thanks Kbrads for that explanation.
Hi, Nice post! I've been using MEC clay cookware for sometime now (Miriams Earthen Cookware) got it from their online store, and I like them very much. Had Romertopf for a long time and a year ago I bought a set from MEC. Unlike Romertopf these can be used both on the stove top and in the oven. I've cooked from bone soup to rice to quinoa and even made yogurt in the smallest pot and i like them very much!! Initially (when the pots were new) it took sometime to get hot & cooking but eventually they became just as fast as other pots in my kitchen. Love the superior taste of food cooked in these pots! thanks for the link to the recipe as well...
Hi! I wanted to know it is ok to make yogurt in mine but not sure how. Should I still soak? I'm new to both the cooker and yogurt! It suggested a Dutch oven for yogurt, but I don't have one.
I am curious about this also! I only have a romertopf and a few metal pots and mans and want to make yogurt. If you figured out if you can make the yogurt in the romertopf/ how you do I would love to know!
what is the link to the recipes ?
Thank you for the post. I got mine from mecware.US and it is so easy to use and comes with a lot of health benefits. after tasting food cooked in these pots, I can never go back to metals. The food gets cooked evenly and all the nutrients are intact. Most importantly it’s made of 100% natural clay sourced and hand crafted in US. It’s also metal and chemicals free.
For some unknown reason the bottom of my Romertopf is missing! Can I use just the top to roast veggies and quick cooking stuff in? If so do I need to cover with foil? To keep steam from escaping?
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Lucinda, honestly, I don't know. My guess is you need both top and bottom but what the heck, give it a try and see how it turns out and please let me know your results.
Jen of EIL Green Earth
I agree that food cooked on pots taste Amazin. You have to try our 100% natural food grade clay pots for cooking, heating and serving. Please visit our website and take look at our pieces.
I have an unglazed clay pot that I inherited from my mother, but the instructions were missing. All the information I find says to use it in the oven. Can it be used in the microwave? If so, where can I find instructions for how long and at what setting?
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Brenda, according to http://healthy-cookware.com/how-to-use-and-maintain-clay-cookware/, a clay pot can be used in the microwave if it is first properly seasoned. See link for seasoning instructions.
If you visit romertopfdirect.com and contact them, they will email you instructions for the unglazed pot if it is a Romertopf.
Forgot to mention, Romertopfdirect has an interesting article on their site about glazed Romertopf clay bakers and unglazed bakers https://romertopfdirect.com/in-the-Kitchen/glazed-vs-unglazed-romertopf-clay-bakers and the moisture coming from the lid, so you do need a lid. (regarding Lucinda's post)
I love my new Romertopf clay baker and use it all the time. It is the new kind from Germany with the glazed bottom. I only have to soak the lid before cooking in it. I too won't go back to metal, food tastes so much better when cooked in a clay pot!
I recently came across a clay pie baker. It's a terracotta glazed pie pan and a lattice looking lid. Can you tell me any advantages to baking a pie in this type of pan?
How long would I cook 2 chicken breasts and veg combined.
I can not find the pamphlet that came with my clay pot. 1970s model. In it was a great bbq spare rib recipe and sauce. Does anyone out there have the pamphlet and recipe??? Please share. thank you
I've had a meal in pottery and I tasted much more delicious than normal.