Perfect Roasted Chicken in the Clay Pot
See recipe below
Roasting a chicken is probably one of the easiest things to do. Put it in a clay pot and it's that much easier... it cooks itself perfectly without the fuss.
Cooked in clay, meats stay succulent and juicy, and cook beautifully. Chicken in the clay pot is delectably moist (even the breast meat) and the flavors are heightened as they mix and mingle with aromatics, vegetables and spices.
Many of the clay pots used for cooking are unglazed. The pot is soaked in water before going into the oven so that the clay will absorb the liquid and release it into the food as it cooks. This ensures that the food will be deliciously tender all the way through. Clay pots can be used for meats, vegetables, soups and even breads and desserts.
Clay pots go back thousands of years, and through the ages, different cultures have adapted these pots into various shapes and sizes. The most common being the tagine (a North African pot with a cone-shaped top) the Boston bean pot (a deep brown, narrow-mouthed bulbous pot) the red clay pot (the one pictured above that I use for chicken and vegetables) the fish baker (shallow oval dish shaped like a fish) and the garlic roaster (a small clay dish shaped like a garlic clove). All have various uses and are quite versatile.
Rules for Cooking in Clay (from the Best of Clay Pot Cooking):
1. Always soak unglazed clay pots before cooking. Otherwise, they will dry up and possibly crack in the high heat.
2. Never subject a clay pot to quick or extreme changes in temperature. I always place my pot in a cold oven and increase the cooking time by 10-15 minutes.
3. Do not store cooked food in the clay pot as the flavors will seep into the clay and be hard to remove. I serve my clay pot dishes in the pot because it makes such a lovely presentation, then transfer any remains to another dish to store.
The Best of Clay Pot Cooking, Dana Jacobi
Cooking in Clay, Erika Casparek-Turkkan
The Best of Clay Pot Cooking, Dana Jacobi
Cooking with Dorothy McNett, dorothymcnett.com
Perfect Roast Chicken and Vegetables in the Clay Pot
Yield: 4-6 servings
The name of this title doesn't lie - it comes out perfect every time, no matter what. The veggies can be thrown in the pot with the chicken from the get-go, but I usually sprinkle them around the chicken 30 minutes into the cooking process as I prefer my vegetables slightly less cooked. Use an oval red clay pot; brand names include Romertopf or Schlemmertopf.
1 whole organic chicken, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon mild paprika
2 celery stalks
1 yellow onion
1 starchy vegetable (potato, yam, turnip, celery root...)
1 fennel bulb (optional)
1 medium apple (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, or 2 teaspoons dried (thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram), plus a little more for garnish
Salt and pepper
Soak the lid of the clay pot in water for 10 minutes. Mix the spices together in a small dish and rub them onto the chicken, inside and out.
Place the whole chicken, breast-side up, into the pot. Close the lid and place the pot in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 425 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, slice the vegetables in a decorative fashion (see photos).
Remove the hot pot from the oven and open the lid away from you so not to scald yourself with the steam. Throw the veggies around the chicken and sprinkle them with the herbs, salt and pepper.
Cover the pot and place back into the oven for another 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through - the juices in the thigh should run relatively clear and a meat thermometer placed in the "knee" joint of the thigh should read 175 degrees.
Let the chicken sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some fresh herbs and serve right out of the pot.
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