This is a wonderful expression of the basic terra cotta form made from clay which has been used since classical times. I love the earthiness and simplicity of terra cotta -- basic earth, low fired with an interior glaze. When I am not making soups in it, I place it as a decorative piece on the shelf in my kitchen, so I can enjoy it every day.
Until this century, this type of jar was the traditional way of storing olives.
You can use the jar for storing beans or rice in the kitchen; but even better, once the jar is cured, it is the perfect medium for a slow cooked stew. Absolutely food-safe, lead-free terra cotta.
Pot is 6.75 inches tall and 9 inches wide from rim to rim. For storage purposes, the pot and lid are 8 inches tall from top to bottom and 12 inches wide from handle to handle.
How to Cure Your New Cazuela for Cooking:
If you are planning on cooking with your cazuela, you will need to soak and cure it using the following directions.
Soak the entire dish in water to cover for 12 hours. Drain and wipe dry. Rub the unglazed bottom with a cut clove of garlic (we are not sure how the garlic works, but why argue with tradition?) Fill the dish with water to 1/2 inch below the rim, then add 1/2 cup of vinegar. Place the dish on a flame-tamer over low heat and slowly bring the water to a boil (no flame tamer? Crumple a sheet of aluminum foil and create a ring that you place over your burner to create about an inch of space between the heat and the cazuela).
Let the liquid boil down until only about 1/2 cup remains. Cool slowly and wash. Your cazuela is ready for use - the garlic has created a seal. This technique has been used since the Middle Ages. It seasons the pot, kills bacteria and hardens the unglazed parts.
Especially if you intend to use the cazuela to cook strong flavored fish or seafood, after soaking, rub the inside of the base with olive oil and put into a preheated 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let cool. Either method will strengthen your cazuela.
To clean, soak in sudsy water and scrub with a soft brush to remove any hardened food.
If you have not used the cazuela for an extended period of time, you may need to re-cure it before use.