Clay Pot Chicken ~ Sunday Dinner

Comfort Food at its Best: Baked Chicken ~ pair it with Mashed Potatoes
This succulent, tender Clay Pot Baked Chicken has become our traditional Sunday dinner, at least during our [admittedly mild] California winter. The scent of the chicken and spices, in concert with the clay pot itself, gives the house a wonderful aroma. I usually make mashed potatoes and either green beans or carrots to complete the comfort food experience.

The clay pot method is one of my favorites, because the moistness is maintained during the baking, and the heat in the clay pot is retained while serving. This technique has a long history, stretching back at least to ancient Roman times. I’ve included a lot of basic information about clay pot cooking at the end of this post. My clay pot is a Romertopf. I’ve had it at least 20 years, and it looks well used (because it is!).I encourage you to give this method a shot!

Clay Pot Baked Chicken
adapted from recipetips.com

Container: clay pot
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 1.5 hours

3 to 4-pound whole chicken
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, stems removed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or thyme (optional)
1 tablespoon butter or grape seed oil
Salt and pepper
Optional: Wildtree Rotisserie Chicken Spice Blend

Soak top and bottom of clay pot in cold water for 10-20 minutes, or follow soaking directions provided with the clay pot.

Do not preheat oven.

Rinse chicken in cold water, pat dry with paper towel. Lightly oil outside of chicken and sprinkle salt & pepper inside cavity and on the outside skin. Place chicken breast side up in clay pot and fill cavity of chicken with onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, fresh rosemary or thyme, and oil. Put excess in the bottom of clay pot. Add about 1 cup of white wine or chicken stock to the clay pot (I “measure” it by “glugs”: about 3 “glugs” of white wine).

Cover and put in a cold oven.

Turn oven to 400º F. Bake 90 minutes. Remove the top during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown. (Internal temp should be 180°.)

Remove from oven and place on hot pads or a towel. Do not put on a cold surface. Serve directly from clay pot as it retains heat well.

Clay Cooker Tips and Hints

• Clean the clay dust from a new cooker with hot water and a stiff brush.

• Invest in a good pair of asbestos kitchen gloves to handle removal of the hot pot from the oven.

• Be sure to use a thermometer to test for doneness, and remove the pot from the oven about 5 to 10 minutes before it reaches optimum doneness as it will continue to cook. You will want to let it rest about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

• For leaner meals, trim off all excess fat or you will end up with a fatty sauce.

• If you need to add a little liquid, use broth or wine (the alcohol will cook out but will give the sauce a nice flavor).

• If you add liquid, do it sparingly. Remember that the food will also release its own juices. You don’t want the claypot to bubble over.

• You should not need to use oil in a clay cooker recipe, but if so, use restraint.

• You will find most claypot recipes use a lot of salt. This is intentional. You can try lessening the amount if you need to, but the process relies upon extra salt.

• A parchment paper lining is sometimes recommended when cooking a strong-flavored food or to avoid stains. The parchment paper helps to keep the juices from soaking into the porous clay.

• Arrowroot is recommended for thickening sauces and gravies.

• Never place a hot claypot on a cold or wet surface. It will surely crack. Use a hotpad or wooden cutting board.

• Do not use your clay cooker on top of the stove. It is not designed for direct-contact heating purposes.

• Although today’s models are dishwasher-safe, I advise against putting your claypot in the dishwasher. The surface is porous and will absorb soap.

Clay-pot Cooking

There are many different clay cooker recipes to try. The Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic recipe is the one that completely hooked me on a clay cooker. It may sound like a lot of garlic, but cooked this way, the garlic flavor is extremely mild and the garlic nuggets have a nutty flavor rather than sharp and pungent.

Once you become proficient in using your clay cooker, you will be able to convert many of your old recipes for use in the claypot. Think of your claypot as a sort of pressure cooker that goes into the oven. Poultry, meats and vegetables work particularly well, but you can also bake bread in your clay cooker.

Let me know what you think of this chicken if you make it!

Lisa

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