Monday, January 2, 2012

Terracotta Frying Pans

Terracotta frying pans, otherwise known as 'Sartenes' are a wonderful piece of cooking equipment. Made in the same way as the famous Spanish cazuela the sarten is distinguished by its handle - cleverly designed with a hollow cavity running through its length so it doesn't become too hot.

The sarten is in fact exactly the same as the cazuela, the same finish, same thickness, same insulating properties etc etc so is ideal for cooking with. The only real difference is that the sarten is not made quite as large, the largest is around 18cm in diameter which plus the handle and full of gambas as pil pil makes it heavy enough given the weight of the terracotta. Cazuelas are great for serving tapas - sartenes are even better, easier to handle, very unusual but still with that rustic terracotta warmth and appearance making them great for laying over the tapas table. The sarten is at home serving hot dishes such as the afore mentioned 'gambas al pil' (chili garlic prawns' or simple a selection of your cold meats, olives or sliced ham, even salsa's.

As always terracotta needs a good soak in water before its first use and the sarten is no different. Soak in water for 2 - 3 hours or overnight and your terracotta will become 'seasoned' ready for heat, put it on the gas hob without a soaking and may just be too fresh and brittle to cope. Seasoning only needs to be done once because once it has been cooked in then the seasoning toughens the terracotta even more ready for the next use.

Tapas in Terracotta: (King prawns in garlic butter)

You will need
6 - 8 King prawns per 12cm cazuela or sarten
3 - 4 Garlic cloves, chopped
80g Butter
Parsley, chopped

  • Start by shelling the prawns but leave the tails on.
  • Run your thumb down the length of the back and remove the black gritty string.
  • Rinse the prawns then, using a small sharp knife slice the prawns down their backs but not all the way through. Open the prawns and arrange in their terracotta dish.
  • In a bowl mix the butter together with the chopped garlic and parsley then add a good spoonful to each cazuela or sarten covering the prawns.
  • Cook over the gas hob or in a hot oven for 5 – 6 minutes until the prawns are done.
  • Serve sizzling hot with fresh crusty bread.

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