Monthly Archives: September 2013

Roasted lemon, garlic and herb chicken in a Schlemmertopf

I wanted to try out the Schlemmertopf by roasting a chicken

To start with I pureed fresh basil (probably a loosely packed cup of leaves), garlic (4-5 cloves), finely grated lemon peel (one lemon), salt, and enough olive oil to bind it together.  I took a 5 lb. chicken (probably would go a little smaller next time, just because I have the medium-sized pot), gently worked my fingers under the skin to rub in the puree, underneath and all over the outside of the skin.  I sliced the peel lemon in half and put it, a sprig of rosemary, and an onion within the cavity.  Chopped up some onions roughly and stirred it in with a pound of baby carrots in the bottom of the pot and set the chicken on top, and put the lid on.  Stuck it in the unheated oven, then turned it onto 425.

I cooked it for about 80 minutes, then checked the temp with a meat thermometer.  It took a bit more than that, about 20 minutes, I think because of the size of the bird and the addition of vegetables (so, approximately 100 minutes total) For the last 15 minutes, I took the lid off for the skin to crisp.

I would describe the results as having the tenderness of slow cooker chicken, plus the opportunity to have the kind of lovely skin that you would get from roasting.  The flavor of the herbs also made its way deep into the chicken (perhaps the steaming within the pot helped it to seep in?).

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I made the juices into a quick pan sauce with some white wine, and served the chicken with red potatoes that I roasted with garlic, fresh lavender and rosemary on a separate pan.

After picking the meat off, I used the leftover carcass to make chicken broth in my roaster oven.  Since it was already bright and lemony, the broth and the leftover chicken seamlessly transformed into avgolemono (Greek egg, lemon and chicken soup) for another meal.

Shall I share my shiny Schlemmertopf?

Part of my approach to “eating like an immigrant” is to explore traditional and regional cooking methods.  I feel tremendous glee when I stumble on an interesting piece of cookware at a thrift store or the like.

A couple weeks ago, I found a Schlemmertöpf in a local thrift store.  It was a beautiful clay pot, decorated with a charming rooster.  The manual was stashed inside, so after flipping through it, I decided to take it home with me, even though I had never heard of one.

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Thanks to Chef Google and partner Madame Pinterest, I found that German clay pot cooking was something of a fad about 30 years back, and continues to have a small but vocal following.  It intersects with traditional cooking processes around the world, from tagines (which I have never managed to find in a thrift store!) to clay-pot curries in India.  It also is known as a Romertöpt, literally a Roman pot.  Basically, the clay pot holds and conducts heat very well, plus it holds in a lot of moisture.  It’s bottom is lightly glazes, and its top is not.

It’s already become a regular part of my kitchen line-up, and I have recipes to follow.  To break it in, I followed the directions carefully (crucial: don’t heat up your oven before using so that it doesn’t crack and remember to soak the lid).

I started a Pinterest board for clay pot cooking.  One of the best ideas for it that I haven’t tried yet is to use it cook loaves of homemade bread.  From what I’ve read, the conduction apparently helps to make for a crisp exterior and tender interior.  I would love to know if others have favorite recipes to cook in a clay pot–feel free to share in the comments!