Cooking in clay pots: Why you need La Chamba in your life

La Chamba Clay Pot

La Chamba Clay Pot

If you've never cooked in a clay pot, now might be the time to start.

La Chamba came into my life last month and I can’t get enough of it in my kitchen. Few vessels can cook a variety of dishes so beautifully and look damn good while doing it, too. Handcrafted in the little Colombian town by the same name, La Chamba is a line of rustic, sturdy and beautifully made clay pots. Each piece is individually handmade from locally-mined natural clay and burnished with stone for a smooth finish. While the exterior appears to have a soft sheen, it’s not glazed —the deep black color comes from the way it’s fired. 

It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, where it imparts a smoky, rich flavor into every dish. Because it’s made from unglazed clay, which is way more porous than metal, heat and moisture can circulate better throughout the dish, changing the texture and flavor of bean, braises and stews it for the better.

After an easy seasoning process that involves filling it with water and baking it in the oven for a bit, this pot is ready to make magic in your kitchen. Perhaps what I love most about this particular clay pot is that while infusing the food with flavor, it also fills the house with a warm, earthy smell that’s so lovely and comforting.

I’ve been testing out new recipes all month to figure out what this little clay pot does best. The conclusion: All of it. Most commonly used for beans and stews, I’ve cooked lentils, beef braises and even a small batch of chicken stock. Whatever you make, you can put the pot right on the dinner table, where it makes your food look even more amazing than it tastes.

Haven't convinced you yet? It's also inexpensive. A few online retailers sell it, including Williams Sonoma. But the best place to find the full collection is at My Toque. If nothing else, you might find something else you've been needing in your life that you didn't even know you needed.

Now head on over here to make my creamy Colombian coconut seafood stew, which I cooked in a La Chamba clay pot.