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Tips for Using Glazed Terra Cotta Cookware


Anna Blume
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Anyone here bake in glazed terra cotta pots before? Know the chemistry?

I have some lazy oven-cooked polenta going. Used the method for years. Bake 1 part polenta in 4 parts water, uncovered at 350 F. Should be close to finished after the 40 minutes that has passed, but it looks as if it will need a couple more hours at this rate!

Clues?

Update: Discovered a large cast iron grill pan pushed way back on a lower shelf. May have been sucking up too much of the heat (??). At any rate, the casserole is now alone in the oven, on top rack at higher temperature and bubbling away. Still curious, though, if you have any thoughts. Thanks!

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Update: Discovered a large cast iron grill pan pushed way back on a lower shelf. May have been sucking up too much of the heat (??). At any rate, the casserole is now alone in the oven, on top rack at higher temperature and bubbling away. Still curious, though, if you have any thoughts. Thanks!

You are undoubtedly correct about the undiscovered grill pan affecting the oven temp. The cold grill pan in the oven probably made it take longer to heat the interior space of the oven and thus to heat the contents of the casserole holding the polenta/water mixture. Do you heat the water to boiling on a stovetop before stirring in the cornmeal and then putting it in the oven?

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^The cast iron grill was hidden in the oven during the pre-heating process, so it should have been around 350 F and not cold.

The water was room temperature when mixed into polenta. As said above, I've used this method for years, and never had problems when using a Corningware casserole, Pyrex or enameled Dutch oven. While Bill Buford would not approve, it's a carefree technique that (usually) works since the cornmeal cooks slowly as the water heats up.

Here's the recipe, though I recommend less salt: click.

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The water was room temperature when mixed into polenta. As said above, I've used this method for years, and never had problems when using a Corningware casserole, Pyrex or enameled Dutch oven. While Bill Buford would not approve, it's a carefree technique that (usually) works since the cornmeal cooks slowly as the water heats up.

If you were using a different type of cooking vessel, glazed terra cotta, then it most likely had to do with that material transferring heat to its contents more slowly than glass or enameled cast iron does.

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