A few days back I was meandering through the cookware section at one of my favorite local thrift stores. Not only was I thrilled to find a cast-iron skillet in excellent condition, but also a beautiful Rompertopf Terra Cotta baking pot. Never one to miss a deal, I purchased both of them for a grand total of $10 with a giant grin on my face.
I had never cooked with Terra Cotta, so I did some research on the methods and techniques. My first dish was a delicious success and I am excited to share what I learned here with you folks.
Terra Cotta RULES to live by:
1. Let the pot soak in cool water for about 20 minutes before using it. I let it soak in the sink while I chopped veggies and enjoyed a glass of White Chard.
2. Never place the terra cotta pot into a preheated oven. Place the pot in the oven (with your food in it) and THEN set the heat. The pot should warm up WITH the oven to prevent cracking and damage.
3. Avoid cooking dishes with very strong flavors (fish, currey, etc) as they will make unwanted appearances in the next dish that you prepare.
4. Do not wash with soap or put in the dishwasher. Hand scrub with warm water. Let soak overnight to get off any residual food particles.
Simple Vegetable RECIPE:
You will need 1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes; 1 onion; 3 large leaves of Swiss Chard
Chop onion and lightly saute in a pan with garlic and olive oil.
Fill the terra cotta pot with lightly sauteed onions, chopped swiss chard, and whole peeled tomatoes (squish tomatoes with your hands, but be careful to not squirt tomato juice all over your top!).
Place pot in oven and set oven heat to F 450. Vegetables will be soft and ready in 20-30 minutes. You should probably enjoy another glass of White Chard in that time and cook whatever else will be accompanying the dish. In my case, we cooked some prawns in butter and garlic and crisped some kale in the oven (to do this, chop kale into bite-size pieces, toss with olive oil, place on baking sheet and put in oven for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally - so simple and so delicious!).
Our vegetables turned out surprisingly flavorful. We did not add any spices - not even salt to the dish! The vegetables came out tasting more enriched with their own natural flavors. I have never a Chard that tasted so overwhelmingly like Chard. This is the beauty of Terra Cotta - it steams your dish, locks in flavors, and is incredibly easy to use. Our veggies tasted fantastic and they truly got to stand out and make their own vegetable statement without needing the help of spices or salt.