Clay Pot Cooking Techniques

Beth Asaff
Clay pot

Clay pots have been used for centuries to cook food. The pot is soaked in water before being placed in the oven, allowing the cooking foods to retain their moisture. This method of cooking is used throughout the world, and is crucial to Ethiopian, Indian and Moroccan cuisines. Learning to use one is simple and can expand your cooking horizons.

Types of Clay Pots to Use

Clay pots used for cooking come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Be sure to get a pot that is large enough to accommodate the size dish you are making. Ideally, the pot should be crafted for the food; for example, a deep pot with a lid is better for cooking beans, while a shallow, open pan is better for making a casserole or lasagna.

Look for a pot that is unglazed and certified lead-free. You need to purchase a pot made for cooking, not for ornamental or decorative use, as those may contain harmful minerals that could leach into your food.

You can find a wide selection of clay pots in a variety of sizes at Solay Wellness, Cook on Clay, and Miriam's Earthen Cookware.

Prepping the Pot

Some pots arrive ready to use, while others require some preparation to clean them and make them ready for food. To prep your pot:

  1. Boil a large pan of water and pour in a cup of rice. Allow the rice to cook in the pot - it should leave plenty of water behind.
  2. Strain the rice from the water and pour the rice water into the clay pot.
  3. Let the water sit in the pot overnight, and then drain.
  4. Repeat for a few days, until the water drained in the morning looks identical to the water you poured in the night before.

Cooking in the Pot

Cooking in a clay pot is very simple. Soak the pot for approximately 30 minutes prior to assembling your meal. Place the ingredients in the soaked pot and bake it in the oven, or cook on the stove for the recommended amount of time. The evaporating water from the pot will steam your food as it cooks.

Braised Pork Clay Pot Recipe

This braised pork recipe comes out moist and flavorful when cooked in a clay pot.

Braising pork in a clay cooker

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 pound boneless pork roast, cut in 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 4 green onions, cut into 2 inch lengths

Instructions

  1. Marinate your pork in the wine, soy sauce, garlic, and lemon juice for one hour.
  2. Soak the clay pot in cold water for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the pork and pat dry.
  4. Sear the pork on all sides in a hot skillet, but do not cook through.
  5. Set the pork in the clay pot, mix together the remaining ingredients, and pour over the pork.
  6. Cover the pot and set it in a cold oven.
  7. Turn the oven to 400 degrees and let the pork cook for 45 minutes.
  8. Uncover the pot and allow it to continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.

Chicken and Ginger Clay Pot Recipe

This rich and flavorful chicken is best served with a side of sautéed vegetables and steamed rice.

Chicken and ginger in a clay pot

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 5-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
  • 2 Thai red chiles, halved lengthwise
  • 12 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Soak the pot for 30 minutes in cold water.
  2. Place the brown sugar and water in the pot and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and chilies, and place the pot on the stove.
  4. Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil and remove from heat.
  5. Add the chicken to the pot, cover, and allow to marinate for one hour.
  6. Add the chicken broth, onion, salt, and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour, or until the chicken is tender.
  8. Remove the chicken from the pot and continue cooking the sauce on low until it begins to thicken.
  9. Serve with the sauce over a bed of steamed rice.

Add Some Variety to Your Cooking

A clay pot is a great way to expand your cooking repertoire. Invest in one or more pots and taste how wonderful your cooking can become.

Clay Pot Cooking Techniques