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I was making salt baked chicken last night, and I didn't have a casserole dish big enough for the bird. So, instead I used a half glazed Chinese clay pot, and put that straight into a pre-heated oven of 250C. Mine is similar to this one.

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To avoid any thermal shock I placed the pot onto a wire rack instead of the baking tray. But I read in lots of places you shouldn't put clay pot into a pre-heated oven as you will crack it. Is this people's experience? I put this clay pot over the gas hob with no problems, and I find it hard to imagine that the air to clay heat transfer rate is so fast that it will crack the pot, but a gas flame doesn't.

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  • "PS: can someone create a tag clay-pot or sand-pot for me?" Done
    – Kevin
    Sep 7, 2021 at 13:31

1 Answer 1

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As a preface, understand that thermal shock (the phenomenon that causes ware to crack or even explode) isn't an all-or-nothing thing; often ceramic (and glass) cookware succumbs to thermal shock after being stressed several, or even many, times.

In your case, though, I wouldn't consider what you did a risky activity. Putting an earthenware pot onto the rack of a heated oven with a quantity cold food inside is generally considered safe. The mass of the food keeps the pot from heating too quickly. What would be risky would be either putting an empty pot in a hot oven, or putting the pot on top of a baking stone or other preheated solid surface. And even then, I wouldn't necessarily expect it to crack the first time you do it -- as you point out, the pot is designed to work on top of a direct flame (although also with food inside).

I hope the chicken turned out tasty!

(note: I am a potter who sells pottery for use in ovens)

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  • Regarding food inside slowing down heating, this is somewhat similar to water inside your body that makes it possible touch hot, glowing coal for a short time (less than a second) without damage because the water absorbs most of the energy. Of course the head absorption capacity of the food vs skin deep water not at all similar, but the principle is.
    – hlovdal
    Sep 5, 2021 at 17:55
  • I got a couple of new clay hot pots which the wife decided were heating up too slowly. So she replaced the chafing containers with twice the size dishes and loaded them up with chafing fluid. I heard several loud cracks as the fire got started but so far can't find where the cracks are in the pots or dishes! So, maybe that will be clearer with further use :( Sep 6, 2021 at 2:06
  • Graham: good lord! Was a fire extinguisher involved?
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 6, 2021 at 3:49
  • @FuzzyChef no, just blew the flames out. But looks like the glazing on the inside bottom of the clay pot has risen up. This is the one that wasn't subjected to the extra heat i.imgur.com/eLoMjUR.jpg and this is the one that was i.imgur.com/ZzzJwhh.jpg it's a very odd appearance. Sep 6, 2021 at 5:05
  • That's ... very strange. Glaze shouldn't do that. Are you sure it's not an epoxy or something? Feel free to post your own question about that.
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 7, 2021 at 5:36

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