Earth colours and flavours

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These earthenware cazuelas are definitely part of my essential kitchen equipment, well worn, chipped and some slightly cracked, they are used almost every day.  As soon as one of these dishes begins to heat up on the hob or in the oven a characteristic earthy smell fills the kitchen and I’m sure that they add flavour to anything that is cooked in them.  They are widely available in markets and shops here and over the border in Catalunya and Spain, sold with varying advice on how to treat them to make them last ‘for ever’.  I don’t believe that they do last for ever, but they aren’t expensive so if one does crack too badly it can be replaced.  When they’re new they should be soaked for an hour or so in water before use, but after that I find that so long as they are heated slowly, on a low flame to start with if used for cooking on gas, they last for years.

I used one today to make a chorizo, pumpkin and haricot bean stew – very simply, with tinned beans added near the end of the cooking time when the pumpkin was done.

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