A 15-inch diameter, 3 inch deep terra cotta cazuela dish is a good size to cook garlic shrimp, fideua and all kinds of other paella dishes and other traditional dishes such as fabada for a large group.
Terra cotta is basic clay, low fired with an interior glaze. Our premium cazuelas are unique in that they are made by potters following the traditional Roman formula of mixing tiny pebbles into the clay which strengthens the dish and increases its heat retention. The handles are applied by hand. La Tienda is the only source of this kind of cazuela in America.
The glaze on the cazuela is perfectly safe for all applications -- it contains no lead.
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.