Before using your clay pot for the first time, scrub it with a stiff brush and hot water to remove any clay particles.
To clean the pot after cooking, use scalding water and a stiff brush, not soap—it will sink into the pores and leach into the next dish you cook.
For dried-on food or stubborn stains, scrub the pot with coarse salt or a soap-free stainless steel pad. To remove pungent flavors like garlic and ginger, fill the pot with scalding water, add 3 tablespoons baking soda and soak it overnight.
Dry your pot thoroughly after each washing and store it inverted, to prevent mold from forming.
All recipes featured here used a Romertopf Model #111 4-6 pound roaster. Pot sizes vary and range in price from $25 to $56. To buy a clay pot, check your local cookware store, or visit www.kitchenclassics.com/romertopf.htm.