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Clay Pot Cooking - An Ancient Method for Modern Cooking

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Clay Pot Cooking

Modern Cooking with an Ancient Method

Clay Pot Cooking is an ancient method of cooking which uses an unglazed clay pot that has been soaked in water. This time tested method of cooking is responsible for producing some of the most delectable and delicious food available all while maintaining its nutritional value.

The porous nature of the clay pot allows hot air and moisture to combine within the pot and thoroughly cook the food in a process similar to steaming. This method allows the food to absorb and cook in its own juices, ensuring a nutritious, healthy and very tasty meal.

Now, more than ever, many of us are trying to embrace healthy eating and this old-fashioned cooking method is steadily gaining in popularity. It is ideal for making one-pot meals and roasting meat.

And if losing weight is your goal, you will find cooking with a clay pot to be an excellent accompaniment to your weight loss program. This is a delicious and healthy way to prepare low-fat meals.

Clay Pot Cooking

A Delicious Clay Pot Meal

Clay Pot Meal

Clay Pot Meal

Easy Chicken Recipe

Cooking Chicken in a Clay Pot

In clay pot cooking, meat or poultry is roasted with a very small amount of liquid. This method of cooking produces meat with the tenderness of a braised dish and the flavor of roasting. Typically most of the cooking is done with the lid on, but if you want to brown and crisp the meat you can remove the cover when the food is almost done. A short time with the cover off will allow your meat or poultry to crisp up and brown nicely without losing the benefits of the clay pot method.

The first time you use your Clay Pot, you’ll want to be sure to wash it thoroughly in warm water. Do not use soap or detergent. Prior to each use, completely immerse the pot and lid in tepid water for about 30 minutes. The pot will absorb a considerable amount of water, which forms the main part of the steaming process. For later uses, you’ll only need to soak the pot for about 15 minutes.

Clay Pot Cookers and Cookbooks

Traditional Clay Pot Cooking

Singaporean chicken and rice cooking served in the unglazed clay pot in which it was cooked.  This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Singaporean chicken and rice cooking served in the unglazed clay pot in which it was cooked. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Using Your Clay Pot for Cooking

Tips for using your Clay Pot:

  • Always soak the pot in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes before using.
  • Never put a clay pot in a pre-heated oven. The sudden temperature change will crack your pot.
  • Bake at high temperatures (400 to 475 degrees F). This will allow the moisture that has saturated the clay pot to turn to slowly turn into steam, an important element in clay pot cooking.
  • Clay pot cooking requires no added fats.
  • Do NOT place a hot clay pot on a cold surface, it will crack. When taking your pot out of the oven, place it on a wooden board, trivet or potholder.
  • Never use a clay pot on top of the stove.
  • Add liquids sparingly. The food you are cooking will release liquid and you don’t want to pot to overflow.
  • Clay pots retain heat and will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven.

Clay Pot Cooking - This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.Author Original uploader was Rogierwiki at nl.wikipedia

Clay Pot Cooking - This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.Author Original uploader was Rogierwiki at nl.wikipedia

What to Cook in your Clay Pot

When cooking with a clay pot, food is cooked with steam and at high temperatures. Some dishes are particularly well suited to this method of cooking.

  • Vegetable ragouts and ratatouille
  • Baked potatoes
  • Whole chickens, Cornish Hens and Ducks
  • Vegetables
  • Stews and casseroles
  • Baked pasta dishes
  • Fruit cobblers
  • Whole grain breads - Bread baked in a clay pot produces a crispy crust with a tender, moist interior.

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Cooking with Your Clay Pot:

Almost any recipe can be adapted for clay pot cooking.

The temperature of the oven needs to be higher than you would normally cook your meal and will generally take longer. Of course, one reason for this is because you’re starting from a cold oven. Another factor is that the clay will not get as hot as the pans you’re accustomed to using. When adjusting your recipes for use in a clay pot, you’ll want to increase the oven temperature by approximately 105 degrees and add about 20 – 30 minutes to the cooking time.

How to Clean and Care for your Clay Pot:

Do not wash your clay pot with soap. The clay is porous and will absorb the soap. Wash with warm water and use a brush or nylon scrubber and baking soda to remove any baked-on food.

Do not wash your clay pot in the dishwasher.

After use, store the pot with the lid alongside it rather than on top. This will allow air to circulate. If the pot is not completely dry when put the pot away and the lid is on, it will form a seal. This could cause mold to form on the inside.

If you cook fish or any other strong-flavored ingredients, you may need to give your pot extra soaking to get rid of the flavors absorbed into the porous clay.

With time, your clay pot will darken and develop a patina. This is normal.

A pot that is properly cared for will last for decades and provide many years of enjoyable service.

If you like grilled salmon be sure to read our tips on how to ensure juicy, delicious grilled salmon every time. And to complete your meal, don't forget desert. Fruit Crunch Cake is not only delicious, it's amazingly simple!

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Lamme (author) on March 05, 2011:

evam, your ideas sound delicious! I love the idea of the duck and potatoes, I bet that is unbelievable. A little high in calories, but worth the splurge on occasion :) I can't wait to give it a try.

evam on March 04, 2011:

I love using clay pot occasionally because of the longer cooking time, but it's still worth it!

My favourites in clay pot are:

1. Italian sausages baked on the layer of onion and garlic;

2. duck stuffed with apples, baked on layers of potatoes (what delicious potatoes with the duck's fact in them! - worth trying)

Thank you reminding me of this pot (haven't used for a while)!

Lamme (author) on August 17, 2010:

nicole.reilly, that's a great idea to get together with friends to try some clay pot cooking. I bet you all love the results! Thanks for reading and commenting.

nicole.reilly from Austin, TX on August 17, 2010:

Awesome. Going to get some friends together to try this out!

Lamme (author) on August 06, 2010:

Hi Stephanie, that's an excellent question. My guess is it should be fine, but you might want to contact the manufacturer of your clay pot to see what they have to say. The electric roaster is nothing more than a small oven, but it's better to be safe.

Stephanie on August 06, 2010:

Does anyone know if you can put a clay pot into an electric roaster?

I do not want to try it if it will not work


Lamme (author) on June 29, 2010:

This is another method of cooking that is very healthy. The food always turns out delicious - moist, flavorful, tender and still packed with nutrients. Give it a try and you'll be hooked!

celinewayne on June 29, 2010:

great posting =)

i enjoy reading some of your hubs.

this claypot review is very useful and the first picture above really makes me hungry =)

Lamme (author) on June 28, 2010:

I think you're going to love this method. Let me know how it turns out! Don't forget to soak your pot very well, especially the first time. Good luck and enjoy ;)

lightning john from Florida on June 28, 2010:

I have never tried this method. I love to cook, so I must purchase one of these clay pots. The veggies must be a whole lot better for you as you describe, by not cooking out the main nutrients in them. Thanks Lamme!

Lamme (author) on June 22, 2010:

Hi hospitalera, that's the brand of pots that I use ... Romertopf. I love them!

hospitalera on June 22, 2010:

At home, in Germany, we called them "Roemertopf", which translates to "Roman Pot". We used to put the roast, veggies and all into it and when we came back from Church, Sunday lunch was ready, thanks for bringing back nostalgic memories ;-)

Lamme (author) on June 22, 2010:

raisingme, I remember that too. They have had some periods where clay pot cooking was very "in", but it's never really gone out of style. It's one of those old time cooking methods that will probably always stay around because of its simplicity and the fact that the meals created in these pots are always delicious. Thanks for reading.

Lamme (author) on June 22, 2010:

Thanks BJBenson, I bet you remember some great dishes!

raisingme from Fraser Valley, British Columbia on June 20, 2010:

I remember this method of cooking being a bit of a "rage" in the early 80's. The meals were delicious. I had forgotten all about them. Not only is the food tasty but I used to love making a whole meal in one pot! After reading this hub I'll soon be off to the store so that I can, once again cook meals in a clay pot. Great Hub and Thank You for bringing this to my attention!

BJBenson from USA on June 19, 2010:

I learned to cook with clay pots in Turkey. I love the flavor you get with the food. They also clean up easy. I love the hub.

Lamme (author) on June 13, 2010:

Yes Dardia, they're definitely worth it! I hope you enjoy cooking with them. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Darlene Yager from Michigan on June 13, 2010:

This is nice. I may have to buy some clay pots and get started. Thanks!

Lamme (author) on June 13, 2010:

Thanks habee!

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 13, 2010:

Clay pot cooking is awesome, and so is this hub!

Lamme (author) on June 13, 2010:

oceansnsunsets, I hope you try it. I think you'll find that clay pot cooking is delicious!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on June 13, 2010:

Very interesting learning about cooking with a clay pot, thank you for sharing. I would like to try that sometime.

Lamme (author) on June 13, 2010:

Delores, you can get these in a lot of different sizes. My favorite is the medium sized roaster and I use it all the time. There's a small one for garlic, but I find it just as easy to wrap garlic heads tightly in foil and bake them that way. I hope you try one!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on June 13, 2010:

Lmme - I've seen those clay pots but never knew what they were all about. Sounds like a great method for cooking!

Lamme (author) on June 13, 2010:

bingskee, thanks for the nice comments about cooking in the Philippines. I think many countries have changed their cooking methods over the years. It's nice to see some of the more traditional methods coming back in to use.

bingskee from Quezon City, Philippines on June 13, 2010:

cooking in clay pots is very famous in the olden days in the Philippines. today it is practiced mostly in rural areas in the country and can be seen in restos with native ambiance.

it is best in cooking sinigang (stew), or vegetables with pork or fish. it makes the food savory because of slow cooking.

this is a nice hub. :-)

Lamme (author) on June 12, 2010:

Hi rmcrayne, I use Romertopf pots. You're right to be concerned about lead and other contaminants. Be sure to always buy from a reputable source and know that you are getting a food grade clay pot. A lot of times the lead will be in the glaze; that goes for any clay products you use for food cooking or service - pots, dishes, etc.

rmcrayne from San Antonio Texas on June 12, 2010:

This sounds great. Are there any concerns for contaminants? I bought some stuff in Portugal, and it turned out lead was a concern. Do you recommend a particular brand or line of clay pots?

Lamme (author) on June 12, 2010:

drbj, I think that's the beauty of this cooking method. You can let it cook for hours without fussing with it. It turns out so moist and flavorful with next to no effort. Thanks for stopping by!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 12, 2010:

Lamme - I once ate duck that had been cooking for hours in a clay pot in a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong and it was the most delicious, delectable duck dish I ever devoured.

Thanks for reminding me.

Lamme (author) on June 12, 2010:

Thanks Pamela! You should try it sometime. It's fast, easy and delicious ... it doesn't get much better than that ;)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 12, 2010:

Lamme, I have never cooked in a clay pot but this was a very informative, interesting article. Rated up!

Lamme (author) on June 12, 2010:

Hi johnshade, I bet you remember some great meals cooked this way! Thanks for your comment.

johnshade from Pandora on June 12, 2010:

nice i used to do this as a kid.

Lamme (author) on June 12, 2010:

Clay pots are easy to use and the food comes out delicious every time. Thanks for stopping by Karen!

Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on June 12, 2010:

This sounds interesting to try. Thanks for the info.

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