This stylish black ceramic casserole with its sweet yellow lid was part of my Christmas present from Sue.
I’ve always had a weakness for ceramic pots that can be used directly on a gas hob – the food cooks differently and more gently – flavours seem to be richer and more rounded. Here’s a few in the collection. On the left is a posh French daubiere that I bought for Sue some years back, a fine beast but it doesn’t get used much. Back left is a monster unglazed terracotta tagine that we bought from a North African guy in a Liverpool Christmas market on a very un-Mediterranean day. We bought the three tagines pictured below from him. Got a discount for being the first customers of the day but he had no coins so he gave us the mini green tagine for change.
The unglazed one doesn’t get used much because it’s too big and the beautiful little one on the brazier (higher picture) doesn’t get used very often because it’s too small but it’s a fine little cooking machine. The brazier I dragged back in my hand baggage from the Turkish market in Bordeaux where they warned me to fill it with sand or it would crack. No worries, I’ve never used it. But it’s very pretty.
The little pot-bellied casserole in the centre is a different animal, a delicate Italian job bought at the local food festival, Conwy Feast, years back. The stall returned the following year but their stock was disappointingly different. It’s my main soup-making machine. Can’t really describe why it’s so good, or the rolling currents it sets up when the soup starts to simmer …
Front right in the first group picture is my real workhorse. One of the asian food shops in Bangor bought it in for me from a police officer who had a source up the coast towards Rhyl. That’s what they told me and why should I disbelieve them? I didn’t like it at first – too much decoration and too heavy. That was before I understood that they are supposed to be heavy to slowly absorb and retain the heat. I cook all sorts in it from Spanish chicken and rice recipes to shepherds pie (without the lid). Sometimes I even cook a North African tagine in it.
Then there’s my No 1 monster bean pot for when it’s time to re-stock the freezer with portioned packs of frijoles refritos for (nearly) instant use.
From the same family are a number of different sized basic Spanish cazuelas, cheap and hard wearing. All the small tapas-sized ones have disappeared underneath plant pots …
But back to my new Chinese pot. It’s really different to my other pots, not just in appearance. It’s lighter, thinner and less ceramic-looking than the others. I’m always wary putting a pot on the gas for the first few times especially when the blurb on the box is in Chinese. The description on Amazon was reassuring – not only gas but cooking on fires! – but I wasn’t reassured. Took a month to get here which caused Sue to panic that it wouldn’t be here by Christmas. It’s the first time the Suez Canal has come up on the map when I’ve clicked on Tracking – alright, I just made that up.
But arrive it did and I love it.
In action with Puchero. Just pretend the sausages are a large piece of salt pork – we were fresh out at the time.
It’s much more matter-of-fact than the other pots which is a good thing because it means I will use it more.
The only thing is I can’t help suspecting that there’s a hidden transmitter in that black knob sending my recipes to the Chinese security services …
‘Scuse me, just got to run up a tomato sauce for the day’s pizza.