Kitchen Must Haves

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | 0 Comments

I heard about clay pot ovens about four years ago on NPR's "Spendid Table". She always talks stuff up on that show so much, I once had an over whelming urge to rush out and spend $30 for an ounce of vanilla beans. Luckily my sensibility prevailed, but I do still wonder what all the hype is.


I looked for clay pot ovens in department stores and specialty shops and discovered that they are both very hard to find and very expensive if you are lucky enough to locate one. Not wanting to spend $50 on something I wasn't even sure would outlast the fad stage of kitchen gadgetry, I left them for another day - the day that I make my millions.

There is a second hand shop in our town that I absolutely LOVE!! It is one of my favorite places to buy clothes and they always seem to have the household stuff that I have trouble finding other places. And the clay pot oven was no exception. They had three of them! I bought one today for $10. Isn't it great looking? SSB loves the Aztec style symbols on the pot, I love the utilitarian shape - the bottom nests perfectly in the lid for easy storage.

I immediately washed it out (you can't use detergent; you must use either salt or baking soda to wash it). While it was soaking in water (you need to soak it in water for 10-15 minutes before putting the ingredients so it will keep your food moist while it cooks) I chopped up a sweet onion, a few potatoes, and a few stalks of celery. I also ground some rosemary and thyme in my mortar and pestle (another kitchen must have!). Once the pot had soaked up enough water, I threw some apple cider drink mix in the bottom, piled in a cut whole chicken, sprinkled it with sea salt and the ground spice, then dumped in the chopped veggies with some baby carrots. On goes the lid and into a cold oven. Turned on the oven for 450 degrees (100 degrees hotter than you would usually cook the food at) then I left to run some errands. And I almost made it back in time!

So yeah, there was a little burning involved because I stayed out too long. BUT it was still AWESOME! The chicken was so tender that it just fell off the bone. And it was still pretty moist considering that it had overcooked. There was no added oils to cook the chicken so it is healthier. Plus the way that the chicken is cooked enhances the vitamin and mineral content in the chicken giving it the beneficial properties found in chicken soup.

Doesn't it look delicious even if it is a little, er, toasty?

IT WAS! The apple cider mix was a great inspired touch, too!


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Blogger nope said...

Alright, ya sold me. Gotta get one of those!!! How did you know the recipe? Are there books? Have you made very much stuff? I LOVE IT! I want one just like yours!!! How long was this particular dish supposed to be in the oven? Man, if I was over at your house right now I'd be talking a mile a minute!!!

December 20, 2005 7:54 PM

Blogger evilsciencechick said...

alton brown did a show where he cooked a standing rib roast in a terra cotta pot and dish. Same principle, I think. I have NO ROOM for such things, but one day I will have a biiiig kitchen and I will get a clay pot oven!!!!

December 20, 2005 8:27 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Indiaiynke, I just made up the recipe as I am apt to do. I'm pretty handy in the kitchen. I just got the oven today and I know that I will be using it often. The one I have is a Rival but I hear that Romertopfs are really nice, and they are completely unglazed (you don't want one that is glazed on the inside, kind of defeats the purpose). And I just saw that these aren't that expensive through the internet! But still, $10, that's pretty darn good! If you are really interested, our second hand store still has two and one is shaped like a chicken! ;)

ESC, Alton Brown rocks the house! Love him! And yeah, a flower pot would probably give you similar results, but some of these pots are made with a special mix of clays that are supposed to be especially enancing for the foods. But I might have to try that!

December 20, 2005 10:08 PM

Blogger Kari said...

hey, that's interesting. that chicken does look really good!!

December 21, 2005 1:16 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

Ive never seen one before.the food sounds really good.Im sure i'd of enjoyed that

December 21, 2005 9:06 AM

Blogger nope said...

M had a question: How do you clean this kind of thing, especially with burned bits?

December 21, 2005 9:13 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Kari, thanks! It was melt in your mouth delicious!

Pink Lady, it really makes it easy to get perfect chicken! The chicken was so tender I had to use a spoon to get it out of the pot!!

Indiaiynke, you can't put it in the dishwasher. You need to clean it by hand with baking soda or salt and water. Ours was pretty baked/burnt on, but we just soaked it for 20 minutes and all the gunk just came right off! Here's an after picture. I did use brush to scrub it a little once the major stuff was gone, but it was actually really easy to clean. The dark spots that are still on the pot are the start of the patina which will make for even more stick-free cooking and better flavor.

December 21, 2005 9:51 AM

Blogger Derek Knight said...

mmmm! meat!

December 21, 2005 10:17 AM

Blogger nope said...

Ah, OK. Kind of like M's pizza stone. He's had it for years and it's super easy to clean now - just wipe it off, basically, get rid of the bits, etc. Makes the best pizza ... I've been checking eBay for these, and I think I'll wait until I come across one in a thrift store. I need to go up to my favorite place this week to look for clothes anyway - I'll add this to my 'look out' list.

December 21, 2005 10:22 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Derek, I think my next recipe will include beaver. ;)

Indiaiynke, exactly! I have a pizza stone too. It is absolutely fabulous for making really crispy things. I like to make my own pizza from scratch and I use the stone for that too!

December 21, 2005 11:03 AM