Perhaps you have eaten Mexican food in a top quality Mexican restaurant or even in a Mexican home. If you have, maybe some authentic Mexican cookware or utensils were used to make the dishes. Mexicans use a range of different cooking methods, including baking, slow roasting and deep-frying and they have unique pots and pans for these methods. Mexicans like to use plenty of fresh produce in their cuisine, including spices and herbs, so you will find sharp knives and a mortar and pestle in any Mexican kitchen.
Traditional Mexican Cooking Pots
Ollas, also known as Barros, are deep clay cooking pots. They are perfect for simmering beans, stew or soup and clay is a great medium for cookware because it distributes the heat evenly to avoid burnt spots. Barro means clay or mud and olla means pot. These cooking pots are fine to put over a direct flame all day long.
You do need to warm clay before using it else; it might crack if you suddenly expose it to a high heat. If you are baking, you can let the pot warm up as the oven does. Your Mexican food will have a subtle earthy taste if you cook it in a clay pot.
Comals are used in Mexican cookery and these are big, round griddles made from cast iron, clay, or aluminum. Modern ones normally have a non-stick finish and they are used to roast chilies and warm tortillas.
Cazuelas are for simmering sauces such as mole. A cazuela is a big, round clay dish, which is about six inches deep. The inside is glazed and the outside is either plain or painted in bright colors. Cazuelas usually have handles so you can put them over an open fire safely.
A tortillero is a Mexican tortilla press with two wooden discs or round plates. You put a ball of masa between the plates and press down to make a tortilla. These machines used to be wooden but are normally cast iron now. You can get cheap aluminum ones too but these break easily.
Handy Mexican Cooking Utensils
A metate y mano is found in most Mexican kitchens and this is a platter sized, concave dish made from stone. It sits on three short legs on the table or three long legs so you can pull a chair up to it. There is a large, round stone, which you roll on the surface to grind or mix your ingredients.
A Mexican mortar and pestle is called a molcajete y tejolote and this is a small clay, wood or stone bowl with a long cylinder made of the same material. The cylinder is rounded on each end and you use it to pulverize the ingredients in the bowl by rolling the cylinder in a circular motion.
Hot chocolate is a popular Mexican drink and a wooden whisk called a molinillo is used to make froth on the top. You spin the molinillo between your hands to do this. Some are plain and others are highly decorated. The molinillo is a small but significant part of the exciting world of Mexican food customs. Even though it is possible to make delicious Mexican recipes without the proper equipment, it is more fun to use it. Mexican pots and tools look great displayed in the kitchen as well.