STOCKING THE LATIN KITCHEN
Latin cooks tend to have an extensive collection of cookware, including many pieces that might not be found in a typical American kitchen. A recent study found that Latin cooks have four regular pots and pans, four calderos (or stock pots) of varying sizes, two tamaleras (or ollas) of varying sizes, a tortilla maker, pressure cooker, and an electric rice maker.
If you’re pursuing Latin authenticity in your kitchen, you might want to consider adding:
• Caldero: Similar to a dutch oven in its versatility, a caldero is used primarily to make rice and beans. Latin women prefer calderos made of cast iron because they get seasoned with use. A caldero also can be used for making soups, spaghetti and roasts — and for frying and browning.
• Comal: A rounded griddle used to warm tortillas, cook pancakes and saute meats and other foods, a comal is typically made of cast iron, cast aluminum or carbon steel for even heating.
• Electric rice maker: While most Latin cooks admit that rice is not as tasty made in an electric rice maker — preferring, instead, to use a caldero or saucepan — they use an electric rice maker to make large quantities of rice or to keep rice warm for a long period of time.
• Molcajete: A Mexican stone tool that serves as a mortar and pestle for grinding various foods, a molcajete is considered essential for making guacamole.
• Tamalera/olla: A tamalera (or olla), used as a stock pot or sauce pot primarily for making tamales, can range in size from 12 to 21 quarts. Unlike a caldero, a tamalera is not used for fried recipes.