the appetizer:

Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons explores the best kitchen tools, including the Cast Iron Skillet and Portuguese Cataplana, provides information on world cuisines, from The Asian Pantry to The Moroccan Pantry, and offers recipes like Clam, Pork, Sausage, and Bacon Stew and Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb.

Cookbook Profile


Excerpt from Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons



Two side handles clamp this hinged, domed, classic Portuguese pan shut, creating a tight seal, so that foods cook in their own juices. The result is a memorably succulent dish. Originally the cataplana was used only for fish and shellfish—it looks like an outsized clam shell—but today's Portuguese cooks use it for everything from whole chickens to pork roasts to meat and seafood stews.

The most handsome cataplana is made of hammered copper lined with tin and ranges in size from 6-1/2 to 11-1/2 inches. Since tin-lined copper is soft, make sure to use cooking tools that won't scar the metal.

There's a reason the Portuguese embraced the cataplana; the name is used to describe two things, a clam, chorizo, and tomato stew or the copper cooking vessel that resembles two hinged clamshells. The process is simple, the results miraculous. —Joanne Weir, author, From Tapas To Meze

Tips for Using

Prepare the sauce in a separate pan, pour it over the shellfish, chicken, or meats in the cataplana, secure the lid, and cook the dish.

The steam heat that builds up in the cataplana creates the ideal moist environment for cooking clams and mussels.

Always use the cataplana on top of the stove. The rounded bottom makes the pan a little unsteady, but Portuguese food authority Jean Anderson suggests using a wok ring (page 167) to stabilize it. Because of its attractive shape—and especially if it is hammered copper—the cataplana can be taken to the table for serving.

Wear oven mitts when opening the hot cataplana. Both the domes and the brass handles will be fiery to the touch.

Care in Using

Wash with warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Never wash in a dishwasher. Shine your copper cataplana by gently rubbing it with a special copper cleaner or with a halved lemon dipped in salt.


A Dutch oven or braiser with a tight-fitting lid is a successful stand-in for the cataplana.

Cataplana Recipes

Clam, Pork, Sausage, and Bacon Stew | Baby Back Ribs with Cannellini Beans (see book)


Buy Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.


Things Cooks Love:
Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Tips and Techniques

This page created May 2008