Olla Seasoning

An Olla is a traditional Mexican clay pot that is used to make beans in. Wide at the bottom and narrow at the top with a lid these rustic clay pots need to be seasoned before using and are not to be used on electric burners or warmers.

Ever since my first trip to Mexico I have coveted the beautiful clay ware that is used for everyday cooking.  It wasn’t until this trip that I found a really good supplier of it in Puerto Vallarta.  I bought two large platters, a jug, a big covered dutch oven type pot and an Olla.  I brought almost all of it back in my carry on luggage.  The Olla was the only thing that got packed in my suitcase.  I worried about it the entire flight.

It’s taken a while to get up the nerve to finally start to use my clay ware as I’m afraid it will crack and break the minute it even comes near a flame.  Turns out my fears are unwarranted.  After reading about how to season clay ware I choose to go with Diane Kennedy’s method of filling the pot with hot water, placing it over a low flame and adding a head of garlic to the water and letting it slowly evaporate.

The reason there are two heads of garlic in here is because this that she suggests doing this twice, I figured I might as well keep the old garlic from round one in – it might help.  My understanding is that garlic has resin like qualities that help seal the pot.

This takes FOREVER.  I had to keep turning it off to go out or to go to bed.  If you are an early riser and plan to be at  home all day I would think you might be able to get it done before bedtime.  As it was it worked out fine so don’t worry about stopping and starting.

After round two finally finished I did something that I had done to my Spanish cazuela which is take a clove of garlic sliced in half and rub the bottom of the pot with it.  I figure you can’t be too safe, and these pots are very rustic thin and cheap.  My entire load of clay ware from Mexico cost about 30 dollars.
Still I want to try to make my Olla last as long as I can.

Pinto beans have been weighed and hopefully tomorrow or the next day I will have a recipe for you.

Oh and if you do consider buying some clay wer beware you should never cook anything acidic in them as it leeches lead from the not so high quality interior glaze.  So keep it simple and after you have cooked your beans remove them into another pot if you want to add tomatoes or lime juice or vinegar.

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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