Some say the first clay pots were used by native Americans who cooked their meals in pottery placed in the ground and surrounded by hot coals, essentially creating an oven. Others claim that the clay pot has been in existence since Roman times. No matter it’s origin, this form of cooking creates one of the best tasting and healthiest meals with poultry, meat or fish. Some even use it to make desserts!
The Römertopf is a nonglazed (porous) claypot that needs to be soaked in water for about 20 to 30 minutes before using. All ingredients are placed in the pot, covered and baked in an oven that is not preheated, gradually increasing the temperature from 200 to 350 or higher, depending on the recipe.
Cooking time depends on what you’re cooking (beef, chicken, fish), but generally takes at least 2 hours.
Great thing about cooking in a clay pot? You don’t really have to monitor the cooking because it won’t dry out or burn. Instead the meat remains moist without the need to add oil or butter (healthy!) and will be very tender. Best of all, your meal will be deliciously tasty because the pot locks in all the flavors of the ingredients.
French Clay Pot Chicken
|1 whole chicken2 bay leaves2 sprigs rosemary (or 1 tsp dry rosemary)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 cup white wine
lemon juice or vinegar (to wash the chicken)
Soak the clay pot before you start the preparations. Do NOT preheat the oven or your pot may crack.
Clean the chicken (I prefer to remove the fat and first rinse with lemon juice or vinegar, then water, pat dry), rub the garlic and sprinkle with salt and black pepper inside and out. Let it marinade while you are cutting the onions and mushrooms.
Take the clay pot out of the water and place the chicken, breast side up, in your pot. Add a layer of onions and mushrooms around the chicken, spread the rosemary and bay leaves, and cover with the remainder of the onions and mushrooms. Pour the wine on the sides. Cover the pot and place in the middle of the (cold) oven, turning the temperature to 200 degree.
Gradually increase the temperature to 350 (in 15 minutes) and cook the chicken for 2 hours until it’s done. If you prefer to brown the skin a bit, open the lid in the last 10-15 minutes and continue cooking the chicken uncovered.
Voila! Enjoy your chicken with French bread or boiled potatoes … Bon Appetit!
- Make an easy one-pot meal by adding 4-6 small potatoes, 2 stalks of celery and 1/2 lb of carrots with the onion and mushrooms.
- If adding more veggies, sprinkle additional salt (1/4 tsp) over the vegetables before cooking, or wait until the chicken is almost done, then add to taste.
- Use chicken bouillon powder instead of salt.
- Serve with steamed rice instead of bread.
- For a crispier skin, use 1 tbs butter on the chicken before cooking. Less healthy, but still tasty.