I have a recipe that calls for using a "flame tamer" for an earthenware pot on top of the gas burner. I've looked around a little and noticed different types. Can anyone tell me the pros and cons - what do people like? Thanks!
I have 2. Of the 2 I like the one that is a solid flad cast iron plate. The mesh one that I have seems to block too much heat. Before having a flame tamer, I used a cast iron skillet
Flame tamers are helpful with clay cooking but not necessarily essential if you have seasoned the clay and heat it up slowly. I have at least ten clay cazuela's and tagines that I've used directly on a gas burner (some I've had for twenty years) and I've yet to have one crack. But at least they are cheap to replace. Still, it's not bad advice to use a tamer. The simplest is enameled cast iron. I also have a single copper sheet that works well. The idea behind a flame tamer is to distribute heat evenly so that there's no one single hot spot.
I have a set of expensive Kuhn Rikon flat aluminum plates, and an inexpensive set of NordicWare simmer plates. I think the Kuhn Rikon plates are much better, and I use them under every pan I have when I use the gas cooktop, both for even heating and to prevent my smaller pans from tipping over. (I'm in love with my portable induction burner..when I get back to the U.S. and can choose my own appliances again....) Anyway, the KR plates work better for heat distribution, I can give a saute pan a good shake and they don't slide around on the grates.
While expensive. I love emile henry clay cookware.
I have one of the tagines. They're a bit oversized..but great for roasts and tagines and 'no kneed' breads.
Unlike some clay wear they're fine to use on glass tops or gas without the diffuser.
And most of all...unglazed clay pots like a rommertopff (sp). require soaking and always develop mold after storing for months between use. The "henry' brand can sit directly on flames or glass tops, or in the oven without worrying.
Personally, I'd get one of their stew pots and use that...I do like my big tagine..but the high top makes its a bit unfriendly to store in the cabinets.
I'll second Sam on the Henry "Flame" line. I've endorsed them here before and the pieces I own are wonderful and in constant use. I honestly believe (along with Paul Wolfert and Russ Parsons) that you develop subtle differences in flavor when you cook in earthenware as opposed to metal pots.