Caring for Your Colombian La Chamba Blackware Clay Pot

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Care and cooking in Colombian La Chamba Black Claypots

I wrote this article a while back and wanted to share this overly detailed and overly cautious description on how to care for your La Chamba Clay Pot. While this is all sound advice I find just clean well, avoid too much soap and don’t use a scratchy scouring pads and start cooking in your La Chamba clay pot is the best method. I use them daily. La Chamba cookware holds up and cooks very well. I will add to this article in the near future (so please register for updates) and I will also write about caring for many other different types of Clay cookware. I highly recommend Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot cookbook which  has a wonderful primer on claypots that is very informative.

Care Instructions for La Chamba Cookware

 

The pottery from La Chamba, Colombia requires very limited initial preparation before normal usage. The first time you will want to clean your pot in water with a light non abrasive sponge to remove any dirt or residue left from the firing process.  At this point you could choose to start using your pot immediately on your stove, oven or microwave. If you want to take some extra step preparing your vessel or dinnerware here are some methods that have been used for centuries to treat clay cookware.

Some porous clay pottery requires or can benefit from being filled with water approx 3/4 full and placed in a 400 degree Fahrenheit over for 30 min. La Chamba usually does not need this step, particularly if you purchase a finer quality vessel like this one, but if you have a pot from a village market and you were not aware of the step and care taken in the preparation you might feel more comfortable doing the water heated process first before regular daily use. Some international clay manufactures recommend milk in place of water to seal your clay pot. This again is an extra step that does not seem to be necessary for top quality La Chamba.

Regular use of your pot will naturally develop a well seasoned cooking surface. Using wooden utensils verses un-coated metal utensils will also help protect your cookware.

With proper handling you can use your Chamba pot or dinnerware directly on the stove, in a microwave, on a grill and in the oven.

Chamba clay cookware on coals

Like any cooking surface, these clay pots should not be exposed to excessive temperature changes. If your pot is very cold from the refrigerator you should not pour in boiling liquids. If your pot is very hot you should not put in ice cold liquids. The idea is to avoid extreme thermal stress.

Clay pots are very practical for daily cooking. They can be filled with cold liquids and be heated over a strong heat without a problem. The clay will also hold heat well. If your food is boiling, your dish may continue to boil for a while after you remove it from the heat, so use caution when moving your vessel. The advantage of your lidded clay pot retain a nice level of heat is that your food can stay nicely warm at the table for upward of an hour.

Cleaning:

Ancestral Chamba Cookware is very easy to clean. Just scrub a little, rinse and dry. Since the clay is porous we do not recommend using detergents, particularly at first, before the pot is cured. If you have stubborn food on your pot just soak an half an hour. The food should be easy to remove with a non abrasive sponge. Repeat if necessary. Boil some water in really hard to clean vessels. There are very good non abrasive, bacteria resistant scrubbers on the market. Metal scouring pads will scratch and are too abrasive for the hand burnished surface of your vessel.

A Recommended purple scrubber

You can clean you La Chamba in the dishwasher even though it is not recommended. The dish washing soap can remain in the porous clay and it can reduce the luster and natural seasonings of your piece.

Clay is a natural surface, not a non stick surface. With time your vessel, with care, will develop a very lovely cooking surface where only limited use of oils or cooking sprays will seem necessary.

Storage:

You should always dry your La Chamba ware well in a well vented space before storing. In very humid climates you will want to take special care to make sure your clay gets properly dried so mold spores will not develop. Proper washing and drying and prevent this from happening. You can air dry your pieces or to quickly dry place your La Chamba pieces directly on low heat to remove the excess moisture and allow to cool. Many cooks like to place their pieces in a warm oven for 10 min.

Happy Cooking and enjoying your heirloom clay cooking pot!!

Ajiaco Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup

ajiaco

Chamba Clay Cookware.com

 

Ajiaco soup made in a Chamba clay pot

Columbians love soups, every region with its various natural resources has a unique comfort food type of soup. Ajiaco is a delicious classic you would find in the country’s capital city Bogota. It is very simple to make, wonderfully addictive but requires at least one special ingredient to separate it out from most chicken and potato soups, it the herb Guascas. A delightful kind of citrus herb, that grows like a weed, and is sometime called the Valient Soldier!  You can buy it online* or if you are in a Columbian neighborhood any where in the world ask for it in the local stores and delis. They will usually have it.  I also recommend using all the garnishes when serving your soup. The capers, cilantro and cream really offer a fabulous taste treat.

In this picture the Ajiaco is served with the garnishes, rice and some Farmers Cheese Fritters. A very filling meal.

Ajiaco Chicken, Potato, Corn traditional Colombian Soup

2 chicken breasts and 3 large legs – skin removed

3 large cloves of garlic chopped

1 large onion chopped

3 -4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

12 sm yellow potatoes – I like the finger potoatos

3 medium yukon gold cut up in one inch cubes

8 small red potatoes cut in half

Chopped bunch of cilantro plus 1/4 cup of leaves for garnish

8 T of dried Guascas

2 T of salt

1 T of Pepper

3 Ears of Corn cut in wheels

10 Cups of a Chicken Broth.

1 Cup of Sour Cream or Mexican Crema if available.

1 Avocado Sliced

1 cut up lime

1/8 cup of capers

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. A classic La Chamba, Colombian clay pot would be idea but any dutch oven or large soup pot will work. Saute the chopped onion and garlic until golden. Remove the onions and save to the side. Next saute and cook the in the same oil/liquid as the onions.  When cooked through re add the cooked onion mixture, chicken broth, spices and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 mins. Add the cut up potatoes simmer for about 40 min. Add in the wheels of corn. Colombian corn would be added earlier since the traditional corn from this are for this dish would have larger slightly tougher kennels than the tender yellow typically found in the US. Cook the corn in the broth for about 12 – 15 min.

Serve the soup with bowls of the condiments, capers, sour cream, cilantro leaves and the sliced avocado.

Bowl of Ajiaco Columbian Soup in a clay bowl from Colombia

Yummy!!!

* Online Source for Guascas

http://www.amigofoods.com/kigu10gr.html   cool website for all kinds of special ingredients.

Here is a classic bowl of Ajiaco I was served in Bogota, Colombia. It looks way different than the way I make Ajiaco, more potato and less brothy. Another highly recommended way to make ajiaco. Ajiaco is often served in a clay Chamba bowl. This bowl design originated over 2000 years ago and still being produced in the same region.

Classic Ajiaco served in Bogota, Colombia

Please share your favorite recipes and experience cooking with clay cookware from around the world.