Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Clay Baked Chicken: Clay baking a whole chicken..."Roman" style

Clay Baked Roman Chicken

A while ago I wrote about the simple art of Clay Baking, the ancient cooking method that makes moist and delicious dishes out of even the most "inferior" and often dry meats.

As promised, I am returning to give an example of how to make a whole chicken. This dish is known as Roman Chicken and its name connects back to the clay baker's distant past.

Roman chicken could not be easier and is an impressive dish to serve the family or company as it is flavourful, makes its own sauce, and is moist even in the breast meat. 

As always with a clay baker, you need to fill both halves with cool water and let it moisten for 15 minutes or more. You also always absolutely must start it in a cold oven. The clay baker will break otherwise.

For Roman Chicken you take a whole 3-4 pound chicken. Season it with seasoning of your choosing. For this dish I used paprika, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning and Keen's Dry Mustard. But you can use any number of variations...or just salt and pepper. 

Empty the water from the baker and line the bottom with three celery stalks. Place the chicken on top of the celery. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with two onions, both quartered. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the chicken.

Place in a cold oven and set to 425 degrees. Cook for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hour. Let sit for around 15 minutes before serving.

It will come out with a "gravy, and the celery and onions will be both soft and infused with the flavour of the chicken juices and seasonings. 

Again, an easy, inexpensive and really excellent clay baked dish. Be sure not to tell your friends that it is as simple as it is...it is more fun that way!

I like to enjoy this with a very chilled Portuguese Vino Verdhe and rice. 

A clay baker cleaning tip:  Empty the clay baker, soak for a while in warm water, and do not use soap at all. As clay bakers absorb the flavour and essence, if you will, of whatever you cook in them, soap must never be used. After soaking use a clean wire or plastic scrub brush and scrub off the food remnants. If remnants are difficult to remove use some salt as an abrasive. When it is clean, there will still be some naturally occurring discoloration to the clay baker. This is good and expected. It means that your baker is becoming more seasoned. You may now put your clay baker in a cold oven and set to 200 degrees for 20 or so minutes to bring any oils to the surface which should be wiped away once it is cool enough to handle. Do not use cold water to do this! Again it may crack the baker.

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