Mediterranean Grilling

The Green Guide


August 1, 2006

Joanna Howard

Conjure up a Moroccan bazaar in your backyard this summer with aromas of spiced lamb, eggplant, preserved lemons and sharp green olives cooked over smoldering coals in clay braziers. You can also capture flavors over a hibachi or on your grill using a clay tagine, a large dish with a conical or domed lid. Spanish terra cotta cazuelas—or casserole dishes—translate well to the barbecue for holding paella or sizzling garlic shrimp tapas. To make sure that your tagine or cazuela is lead-free and safe for cooking on direct heat (stove or grill top) look for labels that say "contains no lead or cadmium," or "sin plomo" on Spanish imports. If you don't see these labels, ask the store for manufacturer documentation. Note: Brightly colored tagines and those with interior glazes are for serving only and should not be used for cooking.

When grilling with earthenware, remember:

*Tagines and cazuelas should be soaked before first use. Cazuelas require a six-hour soak; tagines need only an hour. The soaking helps keep steam circulating throughout the dome during cooking.

*To prevent cracking, cazuelas and tagines must not be heated above 400 degrees F. Use a grill-top thermometer or set your temperature controls to "low" or "slow roast." Fire Magic Grill-Top thermometers are available from ($18.90; 800-413-5896).

*Use a heavy trivet to protect both your counters and your earthenware from rapid temperature changes.

Product Picks

Lead-free Spanish cazuelas: 13-inch paella cazuela or 4.5-inch handled tapas cazuela ($29.50 and $7.50;, 800-710-4304).

Handmade lead-free terracotta tagines: exterior-glazed Beldi tagine or unglazed Rifi tagine ($38 and $34;, 877-277-7227).

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