Part of my approach to “eating like an immigrant” is to explore traditional and regional cooking methods. I feel tremendous glee when I stumble on an interesting piece of cookware at a thrift store or the like.
A couple weeks ago, I found a Schlemmertöpf in a local thrift store. It was a beautiful clay pot, decorated with a charming rooster. The manual was stashed inside, so after flipping through it, I decided to take it home with me, even though I had never heard of one.
Thanks to Chef Google and partner Madame Pinterest, I found that German clay pot cooking was something of a fad about 30 years back, and continues to have a small but vocal following. It intersects with traditional cooking processes around the world, from tagines (which I have never managed to find in a thrift store!) to clay-pot curries in India. It also is known as a Romertöpt, literally a Roman pot. Basically, the clay pot holds and conducts heat very well, plus it holds in a lot of moisture. It’s bottom is lightly glazes, and its top is not.
It’s already become a regular part of my kitchen line-up, and I have recipes to follow. To break it in, I followed the directions carefully (crucial: don’t heat up your oven before using so that it doesn’t crack and remember to soak the lid).
I started a Pinterest board for clay pot cooking. One of the best ideas for it that I haven’t tried yet is to use it cook loaves of homemade bread. From what I’ve read, the conduction apparently helps to make for a crisp exterior and tender interior. I would love to know if others have favorite recipes to cook in a clay pot–feel free to share in the comments!