Monday, October 15, 2007
In Praise of the Clay Cooker
Many, many years ago I contemplated buying a Romertopf - a clay dish used for cooking meats, fruits and maybe even casseroles in the oven. I didn't. I had no clue how to use one, so I just didn't. Then about 10 years ago I attended a party for "Cookin' the American Way," a home party company similar to Pampered Chef. I bought an apple baker, which the consultant said would be great for meats. I put it up in the cabinet in my kitchen, and there it sat for 10 years.
Recently, a Famous Dave's Barbecue opened up in Redlands, and my husband and I go there occasionally for lunch. They have a roast chicken that's divine, and the waitress let us know about the seasoning that was available for sale. She told us to try doing the chicken in a clay baker, and refreshed my memory for how to use it.
Yesterday I decided to try the baker and the seasoning with a small pork roast. While the oven was preheating to 350˚, I soaked the lid in a large bowl of water. Note: Do NOT preheat the oven like I did. I learned from the commenter below, as well as recipe sites, that if you put a cold clay pot in a hot oven, it's likely to crack. I got lucky!!!! The inside of this one is glazed, so there's no need to oil it. I put the pork roast, some red potatoes, and some baby carrots in the baker, and sprinkled them with some of the seasoning from Famous Dave's. After about 20 minutes of soaking, I put the lid on and placed the dish in the oven. An hour and a half later, all was done. OH MY GOODNESS. I have NEVER had such tender, succulent roast pork. No matter how I've cooked it in the past, it has always come out tough and dry. The meat is so lean, that the experts on the Food Network recommend brining. No need with this cooker. This meat was juicy, cooked perfectly, and so tender you could cut it with a fork. It just melted in your mouth. The potatoes and carrots, which were left whole, were exactly right.
I'm looking forward to trying a roast chicken, and roast beef, and maybe even some ribs. Wow. I can't believe I've waited 35 years to try a clay cooker.