Cooking in Clay

We meat-eaters have all had it before: the bone-dry, flavorless chicken breast. We force ourselves to chew it bite after bite. After all, it’s so much protein and reflects so much effort. No way around it, right?

I eat chicken frequently and I’ve struggled over the years to make it as tasty as possible. If I’m going to eat meat, I want to appreciate it. I want to make it a culinary delight. I want to get the most out of the experience!

To aid me on my quest for better-tasting chicken, I received the lovely gift of a Romertopf clay baker last month for my birthday. Ever seen one? It looks imposing. I imagine walking by mine in the ancient civilizations wing of LACMA.

This week, we put it to use, and today I’m sharing a review of its first oven adventure.

Recipe: a merging of the two recipes found here.

Preparation: scared I’d ruin the clay, I followed the directions of soaking the whole thing for 15 minutes in cool water before filling it with food.

I flipped the lid upside down to minimize water depth. And oh, the reflection of our plants in the window!

I flipped the lid upside down to minimize water depth. And oh, the reflection of our plants in the window!

Chicken: Mary’s Chicken – available in my local Whole Foods.

Pros: One pot. Everything was in the Romertopf: meat, potatoes, vegetables, and seasonings.

The bird, almost ready for the oven.

The bird, almost ready for the oven.

Cons: This thing is heavy! Especially full of food. I kept repeating “I won’t drop it, I won’t drop it” under my breath. It worked.

I always practice squatting by moving large clay pots in and out of the oven. Don't you?

I always practice squatting by moving large clay pots in and out of the oven. Don't you?

Result: There was so much juicy flavor-goodness in this chicken that during dinner I had a weird feeling I was drinking the chicken. It was so so moist (disregard that this is the English language’s most hated word and just enjoy). I’ll play with the seasonings next time (more is better), but keep everything else the same.

When finished, this became a beautiful meal that looked like way more work than it was. I guarantee this will induce "oooing" and "aaahing" from dinner party guests!

Have you tried cooking in clay before? Share your favorite chicken or non-chicken recipes in the comments!