A Clay Comal
A comal is an essential piece of Mexican cookware. It's basically a griddle or flat pan used to make tortillas, toast spices and roast chiles. Now mostly made of steel, they are unbreakable and heat up quickly. More romantic and difficult (my style exactly) is the comal made of clay. The fire needs to start on low, but a clay comal can really take the heat. I've made tortillas in mine and I've pan-roasted tomatillos for salsas, oregano for cooking and once even cooked a pounded steak. One of my favorite tricks is to heat up a little olive oil and a smashed garlic clove and then add raw, shelled pumpkin seeds and sea salt. They need to be kept moving or they'll burn, but once they've cooked, they're fine in a salad or as a snack. These comales (the plural of comal) are from San Marcos, near Oaxaca. The one on the bottom left is new, the one on the top has been slathered with a thin paste made from CaL, to keep the tortillas from sticking. I use this one exclusively for tortilla-making. The bottom right one has seen the most action and I use it to roast vegetables and toast herbs. A cast-iron skillet is a good substitute but if you like to do things the hard way, as I do, keep your eyes open for a clay comal. Any good Mexican grocery will have the steel version.