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Cooking with Clay No. 13: A Cazuela from Rancho de la Virgen in Oaxaca

I wrote about this pot when I had just returned from a trip to Oaxaca last year. The potters come from Rancho de la Virgen, near the city of Pinotepa Nacional, not too far from the border of Guerrero.

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This pot in particular has become a favorite. I don't know exactly why, but I've declared it my quelites pot. Quelites can be described as edible greens but mostly they refer to lamb's quarters. Technically, purslane and spinach would be quelites as well. I use this pot for everything from swiss chard to dandelion greens.

My way with greens:
Normally I use chard as it's always available, cheap and delicious.
I start the pan on low and let it heat through, about five minutes. Then I add olive oil (most Mexicans would disagree but I love it, especially with vegetables), chopped white onions, a clove or two of garlic and a minced serranos, seeds included. I saute these until soft. If I have a good but not great tomato, I'll chop that up and add it as well. (Great tomatoes are for salad in my house.) Don't forget the salt.

Once the base (is this a type of sofrito?) is cooked, I add the very roughly chopped, wet greens. They always start out high and seems too big for the pot but as they cook down, they fit just right. Chard cooks quickly and takes just minutes. Kale takes a little longer. I like some texture and dislike when they've cooked to a slimy mess.
It's not traditional, but this mass tastes great stuffed into an excellent corn tortilla. It you're feeling a little needy, add some fresh mozerella or Oaxacan cheese but it's really not needed.

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The pot is very light (especially in comparison to chamba or the great pots we import from Los Reyes Metzontla) which means it's more fragile but it heats up faster. Rancho de la Virgen is known for it's well-made pots, made without kilns. This is a coastal style of pottery and I'm just itching to get some more.

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