Clay pot cooking is a technique of cooking food in an unglazed clay pot which has been soaked in water so as to release steam during the cooking process. This technique has a long history, stretching back at least to ancient Roman times, and is commonly used in several cuisines in Africa, Europe and Southeast and East Asia.
In Germany, the clay roaster used to cook with is called a Römertopf (literally “Roman pot”). Since its introduction in 1967, it has influenced cooking traditions in Germany and neighbouring European countries. The pot is mainly used to cook meat, like pork roast, chicken or stew, in an oven.
I’ve had a Romertopf pot for years. I usually only make chicken in it, but the are many other uses. These pots make the chicken amazingly juice and moist. I always take the lid off for the last 20 – 30 minutes of cooking to make sure the at the skin gets very crispy and brown. One thing about cooking in a clay pot – DO NOT preheat the oven! You must start in a cold oven or the pot will crack and break.
Rosemary Lemon Chicken in a Clay Pot
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs fresh rosemary and or thyme
3 to 3 1/2 lbs chicken, whole
1 large lemon, cut into 8 wedges
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1/2 cup chicken broth (or white wine)
Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
Soak clay pot and lid in cold water for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place 1/2 lemon in cavity of chicken. Fold wings under. Rub the olive oil over chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, garlic and herbs.
Slice remaining 1/2 lemon into 3 or 4 slices.
After soaking, line bottom of pot with onions and place the chicken, breast side up, on top.
Pour broth or wine around the chicken and cover pot with soaked lid.
Place in a COLD oven and set heat at 450°F.
Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the legs move easily and skin is browned. (Lid can be removed the last 10 minutes, for crisper skin.).
Transfer to a platter and let rest 10 minutes before carving.