DO NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN WHEN USING CLAY COOKING VESSELS.
This is a cheap and easy method of an ancient cooking technique known as clay pot cooking using a common terra cotta flowerpot and saucer. You can spend over $100 on a clay cooker at a gourmet kitchen gadget store, or about $20 at a garden supply. You choose. Some of you may already have the pot lying in your yard, garage or shed. Once you try this you will probably be cooking all kinds of things in it! N
First find (or buy) a large 12-14 inch diameter UNGLAZED pot and saucer. Clean any loose dirt off by scrubbing with hot water, but NEVER use soap on unglazed terra cotta. The taste will never leave.
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Step 1: Soak the Pot
Soak the pot and saucer in cool water for at least 15 minutes prior to putting it in the oven. Prepare all your food before and during the soak, so you can quickly fill it and put it in the oven Your oven MUST be cold when you begin or the rapid change in temp may crack your clay pot. Let the pot heat up gradually with the oven.
Step 2: Prepare Vegetables.
Chop your vegetables while the pot is soaking. You can use whatever you like for this, root vegetables mixed with onions are always a nice base. This time I used leeks, bell peppers, garlic and red onions.
Step 3: More Chopping.
Chop everything up and set aside. To avoid crying while chopping onions people suggest sucking on a piece of white bread, slicing under cool water, breathing through your nose... none of these work however, because it is a gas that is in the air coming in contact with your eyes, not the fine mist of onion juice going in your mouth or nose. Try wearing a gas mask, which can be purchased from most army supply stores.
Step 4: Relax Your Chicken!
Massage your chicken until it is very relaxed. Coat the chicken liberally with seasalt, fresh black pepper and your favorite poultry spice rub (my sister swears by Paul Prudhommes Poulty Seasoning). Pour all your veggies in the saucer, plop your bird on top of that cozy nest...
Step 5: Heat Things Up.
Cover the whole party with the flowerpot, and pop it in the COLD oven. Close the door and put the temp at 325f. degrees for 1 hour. You can also drop a remote thermometer sensor down through the hole and into the thickest part of your meat, whatever it may be, and set it to go off when it is about 10 degrees lower than your target temp. I put a pizza tray or cookie sheet under it to catch juices. You will likely have to remove all your oven racks to fit it in.
Step 6: Grate Some Cheese.
Grate a mountain (about 1 loose cup) of your favorite hard cheese (asiago, romano, parmesan etc.) using a microplane if you have one, a fine shredder of any sort will do. A decent food processor will save you some time here.
When the hour is up (or your temp alarm goes off) open the oven, pull the pot out far enough to remove the top (using heavy duty burn protection, not just a kitchen towel, please). Sprinkle the cheese over the bird and cook uncovered for ten minutes more.
Step 7: Gaze Upon Perfection.
You should end up with something like this at the end. Refrain from tearing into it immediately. Let it cool for about ten minutes so the juices don't squirt out. Your rice should be done just when it is time to cut the chicken.
Step 8: Mmmm... Be Patient!
Mmmmm! Scrumptious Delights! Be sure to drizzle some of that gravy onto your rice as well.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Add a side of asparagus, an artichoke or some other favorite green vegetable and you have yourself a simple, succulent feast! Ala cuisine!
Step 10: Recipe
For those who work better with a detailed recipe, this is my recipe from the first time I used this flower pot at my father's house when I dug it out of the pile of dirt behind the shed. It varies from the instructable only in the extra vegetables used as a "nest" but the process and seasoning is very close.
Rupa's Flowerpot Chicken Geyserville
1 chicken, approx 4 lbs.
2 lbs red or white new potatoes
1 lb plum or roma tomatoes
2 med. onions (approximately 2 cups chopped)
2 med. green bell peppers
3-7 cloves of garlic (depending upon your taste)
1 tsp marjoram and/or thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (double if using preground)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup Parmesan, asiago or other hard cheese, grated
In advance if possible set your chicken in an cold brine to soak--at least 30 minutes per pound, but not more than 8 hours total.
1 quart cool water
1/2 cup kosher Salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Mix the salt and sugar in the water, add the whole spices and submurge the chicken in the pot, cover and place in refrigerator's bottom shelf. Be careful not to let the water drip on anything! Place the pot in a shallow dish such as a pie plate lined with a few layers of paper towels to be extra safe.
Make a rub mixture of all dry spices (marjoram and or thyme, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg).
Lay onions, tomatoes, garlic and green peppers into pre-soaked flower pot and pour 1/4 cup red wine over the veg mix.
Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towels from under the pot, then lightly coat with olive oil and rub chicken liberally with spice mix, being sure to coat all over, inside and out!
Place chicken on the bed of vegies in the saucer, add a sprig of fresh rosemary and cover with the flower pot.
Place the whole thing into cold oven, turn temperature to 350* and bake for one hour without interuption.
At one hour open and remove top. Baste liberally with juices from under chicken.
Turn oven temp up to 500*
Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan or other hard cheese of your choice and cook for another ten minutes uncovered.
Serve over brown rice.