[Sca-cooks] Playing with cazuelas...

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Jan 1 13:49:16 PST 2012

On 01/01/2012 03:51 PM, Suey wrote:
> Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:
>> have been playing with the new toys
>> my lovely wife got me yesterday: two smallish (maybe nine-inch?)
>> earthenware cazuela casseroles that are dishwasher-safe (not that they
>> will EVER go into the dishwasher), stovetop (gas or electric) safe,
>> microwave safe (again, I don't THINK so) and attractive right on the 
>> table.
>> After soaking in water and heating them for a while with water inside
>> them, we dumped out the water, put them back on a gentle heat, and did a
>> Spanish gambas al ajillo in one -- basically shrimp fried in
> Hate to be a Christmas humbug and hope US standards on earthenware are 
> stricter than around my stomping grounds.
> First of all with all earthenware, pottery, whatever you call it, we 
> soak it in water with traditional bleach overnight/12 hours every six 
> months to prevent it from drying out. Since I have had a dishwasher I 
> have always washed our pieces, which are numerous as our daily dishes 
> are pottery. Among them pieces as old as my mother would be - 102!

Manufacturer's instructions:

"En un primer uso, llenar la pieza de agua y poner al fuego durante 
cinco minutos. Para uso posterior, lavar normalmante y poner al fuego 
siempre con alimentos.

In a first use, fill the piece with water and leave it healting [sic] on 
the fire for 5 minutes. For later use, wash as usual and heat it on the 
fire with food."

The English translation seemed a little shaky to me.

I did a Google search for something like "how to season an earthenware 
cazuela," and found several sites advocating a soak of for anything from 
half an hour to overnight, so I soaked them for about six hours before 
proceeding with the manufacturer's suggested preheating with water over 
a low flame -- since the manufacturer actively directed a course other 
than soaking, I felt as if one could make a strong argument that they 
are taking responsibility for that advice, although of course the 
concept of a manufacturer's guarantee for pottery is pretty laughable. 
The other websites recommended bringing the heat up slowly and in 
increments, which I did. When I cooked in them, I made sure not to add 
anything cold directly from the fridge. The cooking went well (I have 
lowish-quality cell-phone photos of the finished cod  and the shrimp 
dish). One of the two dishes has a small crack right on the upper lip 
edge of the cazuela; but the crack doesn't seem to show light through it 
or be low enough to leak liquid. When held up to strong magnification 
(reading glasses AND a handheld magnifying glass) both show a fine 
network of spiderweb cracks in the glaze that is invisible to the naked eye.

If it had simply shattered immediately during the first use after I had 
faithfully followed the manufacturer's instructions, I'd just wash the 
pieces and bring it back to the store where it was purchased and make 
myself sufficiently unpleasant until they agreed to replace it or refund 
my money...
> Pomaire, a town some 50 km north of Santiago Chile, is a pottery 
> center selling among other things earthenware frying pans. I gave one 
> to my Whole Foods son a few years ago. He followed my instructions but 
> it broke when frying within a short time, leaving me stumped because 
> when preparing items for my blog I am seeing that earthenware was used 
> on stove tops as you, otherwise you would not be looking at this feature.
> It will be interesting to see how yours turn out and if they last more 
> than a month, who the manufacturer is.


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