January – Romertopf Clay-Baked Chicken

January – Romertopf Clay-Baked Chicken

The title of this post should really be Romertopf Clay-Baked Chicken with Fresh Goat Cheese, Fennel Seeds, and Tomatoes. But that is too much of a mouthful.

Do you familiar with Romertopf pots?

Romertopf Baker

Romertopf Baker

They were first popular in the 1970’s, right now you can probably pick one up in a church bazaar sale for a few dollars. If you see one, purchase it immediately! Clay does the most wonderful things to food. In the words of Paula Wolfert in “Clay Pot Cooking“, most foods taste better cooked in clay. Food cooked in an unglazed clay pot acquires a taste and aroma best defined as “earthy”. There is also an accumulation of flavors that build when a particular unglazed pot is used over and over again. You know these pots, they are used extensively in the Mediterranean. The pots include the Spanish cazuela, Romertopf Clay Baker, Chinese Sandpot, Moroccan Tagine, plus various clay casseroles from around the world.

The types of clay include earthenware (which can be glazed, or unglazed and is sometimes called terra-cotta), stoneware (great for oven baking but should not be used on the stove), and the newer Flameware (which can be used on the stovetop and in the oven).

My curiosity about cooking in clay was first aroused by a little book “The Clay-Pot Cookbook – a new way of cooking in an ancient pot” written by Grover and Georgia Sales and published in 1974. Their choice of pot was the Romertopf.  I used my own Romertopf extensively throughout the 70’s and into the early 80’s, and then relegated it (until recently) to the top kitchen cupboard.

What changed you might ask? I read several posts from Celia of the blog Fig Jam and Lime CordialCelia has an obsession with clay, it is catching. You can read more of her posts about clay cooking here. As a result the Romertopf came down from the cupboard. And what came next was this preparation of the most amazingly delicious and moist chicken I have had in years. Why did I send that pot away? What was I thinking? All I can say is that I am very happy I didn’t donate it to a rummage sale or Goodwill.

If you don’t have a clay baker use a large casserole with lid. It won’t be exactly the same but the flavors will still be wonderful.

On to my adaptation of the recipe. Ms. Wolfert uses a classic combination of fresh cheese, tarragon, and tomatoes. Tarragon is a tricky herb to grow in the garden and this time of year it has died back to the ground. I hope it will return in the spring, we shall see. Fennel has a similar anise like flavor so I substituted some toasted fennel seeds. For fresh cheese I used soft goat’s cheese. You could use tarragon (1 tablespoon chopped fresh) and ricotta or any other French style-style fresh fromage blanc.IMG_4049

Romertopf Clay-Baked Chicken with Fresh Goat’s Cheese, Fennel, and Tomato

  • 1 frying chicken with the liver, preferably organic air chilled
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 oz. fresh goat’s or other cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted fennel seeds (toasted in a small heavy skillet until aromatic) IMG_4047
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  1. Soak the top and bottom of the Romertopf in water for at least 30 minutes before baking the chicken. It can stay longer but shouldn’t be shorter.
  2. Dry the chicken with paper towels, inside and out. Reserve the liver from the small package inside to use for the stuffing. Freeze the neck and giblets in your stock bag.
  3. Combine the garlic with pinches of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Slip your fingers under the skin of the thighs and breasts to gently separate the skin from the meat without tearing. Insert small pieces of the butter/garlic mixture under the skin and massage into the flesh.
  4. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, wrap the chicken in paper towels and chill in the fridge for 1-4 hours (if you have time).
  5. Chop the chicken liver and mash it with the cheese, add salt and pepper, half the toasted fennel seeds, and the tomato paste.
  6. Stuff the chicken with this mixture and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Rub the outside with the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place the chicken, breast side up, in the baker, cover with the lid, and set in a cold oven. Turn the temperature to 474 degrees F and bake until the chicken is tender (about an hour for 3 – 3 1/2 pounds, longer if larger).
  8. Remove the clay pot from the oven and place on a wooden surface or a folded kitchen towel to prevent cracking. Remove the lid and place on another towel. With tongs or kitchen mitts carefully transfer the chicken to a plate, tipping any juices out of the cavity into the pot. Strain the pan juices into a medium skillet. Skim the fat off the top and and reserve the juices.
  9. Place a small rack into the pot and replace the chicken, breast side up. Return the pot to the oven to finish roasting, uncovered, until done. An instant read thermometer should read 165 degrees F and the skin should be nicely browned.
  10. When cooked, transfer the pot to a wooden surface or folded towel to rest for at least 10 minutes.
  11. Grind the remaining toasted fennel seeds to a powder. IMG_4048
  12. Remove the cheese stuffing from the chicken and add it to the juices in the skillet. Whisk to blend. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until reduced by half. Add the fennel seeds. Cook for a minute longer.
  13. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.IMG_4050

IMG_4051

I am taking this dish to the party at Fiesta Friday #104. Angie’s co-hosts this week are Mila @ milkandbunand Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.

Come join the party!

November – Harvest Spice

November – Harvest Spice

Are you as tired of pumpkin spice this and that as I am? From Halloween on it’s everywhere I go. Stores are reeking of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. It’s too much. And I cannot get my arms around a pumpkin latte. But, I know that I am in the minority, I don’t really enjoy pumpkin pie either. I much prefer apple or pecan or mincemeat. And pumpkin pie spiced air freshener? No thank you!

Here is another idea for flavoring the season.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I am a big fan of the spices from the Oaktown Spice Shop on Grand Ave. in Oakland, CA. Just take a look at their website to get an idea of the variety of wonderful spices they carry. If you don’t live in the bay area, they do ship.

Their Harvest Spice mix was highlighted in our local paper a few weeks ago. You can easily make the mix yourself to use on thick slices of delicata, acorn, butternut squash, or even a roast chicken. I made one alteration to the recipe because I am not fond of caraway seeds, I substituted cumin seeds. Feel free to add the caraway seeds back in if they are a favorite in your household.

Harvest Spice Mix

Harvest Spice Mix

Harvest Spice Mix (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds (or 1/2 tablespoon of dried onion flakes and 1/2 tablespoon of sesame seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried savory or oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon caraway seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or Turkish urfa biber flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked sea salt
  1. Grind the fennel, nigella, mustard, peppercorns, savory or oregano, and cumin in a spice mill or mortar and pestle to a coarse texture.
  2. Stir in the pepper or urfa biber and the salts.
  3. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

I’ve been using this mix the past week but don’t have any pictures. The food has been eaten too quickly! I’ll try and post some pictures if I can keep the dishes away from my hungry family.

Baked chicken with harvest spice

Baked chicken with harvest spice

March in the Kitchen – Obe’s Chicken

March in the Kitchen – Obe’s Chicken

This recipe came to me via a long time friend of my parents, Obe. He had retired to Florida from a long career traveling the world in the merchant marines. Obe was a character (understatement), told wonderful stories, and threw great parties. His recipe has been in my files for decades. It seems timeless, and I return to it again and again when I want something simple but impressive. Do you have those as well? What are your timeless recipes? Obe’s Chicken is simple but it’s a winner because of the presentation. My mother called it “Game Hens Obe” because Obe made it with halved Cornish game hens. I’ve adapted the recipe (the first spring asparagus was too inviting and the game hens were all frozen). The original recipe called for halved game hens, small baking onions, and lightly steamed green beans. That’s the way Obe served it. The sumac is my own addition, I like the slight lemony flavor and lovely color. You could easily leave it out without compromising any flavor.

This is the perfect introduction to spring, an attractive platter full of lovely colors and aromas. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled and could be the centerpiece of a large dinner party. It’s time for your best china and stemware.

Chicken Obe

(serves 4-6)

Chicken Obe

Chicken Obe

  •  6 chicken leg/thigh pieces or 3 game hens, halved
  • 6 Plum tomatoes (one for each serving), may substitute whole canned plum tomatoes
  • 12 large shallots or small boiling onions
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and peeled if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • splash of wine vinegar
  1. Dry the chicken with paper towels and put into a large bowl. Rub with the sumac, paprika, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Peel the shallots or onions.
  4. Skin the tomatoes (if using fresh) by dropping them into boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and cool, the skins should easily peel off. Leave them whole.

    Plum tomatoes ready to peel

    Plum tomatoes ready to peel

  5. Line a roasting pan with foil, put a rack in the pan to keep the chicken above the juices (I used a couple of cake cooling racks). Place the chicken on the racks in a single layer.

    Chicken with Shallots, ready for the oven

    Chicken with Shallots, ready for the oven

  6. Drop the shallots or onions into the bowl which had contained the chicken, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and roll them around to cover with any residual spice mix. Add them to the roasting pan with the chicken, nestling them among the chicken pieces. Brush the chicken with any olive oil remaining in the bowl. Bake in middle part of the oven for 45 minutes. Check to see if cooked through (game hens could take longer depending on their size).
  7. Meanwhile rinse the asparagus and place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven with the chicken for the final 12 minutes.
  8. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet, preferably non-stick, on medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, turning occasionally, until they are beginning to soften. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

    Italian plum tomatoes

    Italian plum tomatoes

  9. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and carefully add any juices to the skillet where the tomatoes were cooked. Bring to a boil, add the sugar and continue to cook until it turns syrupy. Add a splash of wine vinegar.
  10. Carefully add the tomatoes (plus any accumulated juices) and shallots (or onions) from the baking pan to the skillet to warm and coat with the sauce.

    Sauce

    Sauce

  11. Spread the asparagus on a warm platter, top with the chicken, then the tomatoes and shallots. Pour any sauce over all.
Chicken with asparagus, tomatoes, and shallots.

Chicken with asparagus, tomatoes, and shallots.

Serve each person a portion of asparagus, chicken, a tomato, and two shallots.

Baked Chicken Obe

Baked Chicken Obe

I’m taking a platter to the party at Fiesta Friday hosted by Angie at the Novice Gardener.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

March in the Kitchen – Teriyaki Chicken with Hoisin-Chili glaze

March in the Kitchen – Teriyaki Chicken with Hoisin-Chili glaze

This is a simple mid-week dish of teriyaki chicken with an extra punch and glaze from Hoisin and Sweet Chili Sauce. It’s one of those regular dishes on the menu and cooks quickly with minimal fuss.

Teriyaki chicken with Hoisin and Sweet Chili Sauce Glaze

Teriyaki chicken with Hoisin and Sweet Chili Sauce Glaze

  • 1 chicken, cut up or 6 bone in thighs
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce, home made or purchased
  • 1/2 cup of bottled Hoisin sacue
  • 1/2 cup of Chinese Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Optional – garnish of cilantro
  1. Marinate the chicken from 1 hour to overnight in the teriyaki sauce. I find the simplest is to put the chicken in a zip lock bag, add the sauce, then squeeze out any air and seal the bag. Place the bag in a large bowl in the fridge to capture any spills. When you think about it, turn the chicken in the bowl so every piece gets contact with the marinade.
  2. When you are ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Line a roasting pan with foil and place a rack or racks in pan. Spray the racks with cooking spray or brush with peanut oil.
  4. Place the chicken, skin side up, in the pan. Try to get the pieces in a single layer.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile mix the Hoisin and chili sauces in a small bowl.
  6. After 30 minutes are up, remove the baking pan from the oven and brush with the sauce.
  7. Put the pan back in the oven for 15 minutes. After the time is up, check the chicken breasts (if using) for done-ness. Remove them if cooked. Brush everything with the sauce again.
  8. Bake for another 15 or 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked. (about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes total time depending on the size of your pieces.)

This chicken is also very good served cold.

Teriyaki Chicken with Hoisin-Chili Glaze

Teriyaki Chicken with Hoisin-Chili Glaze

 

January in the Kitchen – Friday Chicken

January in the Kitchen – Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken

I first encountered this recipe for a roast chicken stuffed under the skin (Friday Chicken) in a cookbook by Mary and Vincent Price (yes, that Vincent Price!), A Treasury of Great Recipes, published in 1965. They called it “Friday Chicken” because it’s perfect weekend food. Serve it to your family and friends on a Friday evening; then eat the leftovers cold over the weekend. It’s a wonderful choice for an elegant picnic or lunch.

Friday Chicken

Mary and Vincent Price (Friday Chicken in lower right hand corner)

Richard Olney had his own version called “Poulet Fendu Farci” in his book Simple French Food. He used a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, herbs, butter, onion and zucchini. There are no breadcrumbs in that stuffing recipe; it would be a good choice for Paleo or gluten free diets. (Let me know if you would be interested in seeing that recipe in another post.)

Over the years I’ve read (and cooked) several other variations. The basic idea is the same in them all; stuff the chicken under the skin with something flavorful, then roast it. You could use pesto, butter and fresh herbs, ricotta and spinach, or (as in this case) an actual stuffing. I’m partial to the one I use with our Thanksgiving turkey. The stuffing bastes the chicken ensuring wonderfully juicy flavorful white meat and crisp skin.

Substitute your own favorite stuffing and it will be equally delicious. There are a few rules though…use use fresh bread rather than dried croutons or cubes, make sure the sausage is cooked, and don’t spare the butter or oil. The stuffing needs to be cool before handling so time it appropriately.

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday as part of the second block party celebrating the one year anniversay of Angie’s (from the blog The Novice Gardener) weekly celebration. Fiesta Friday joins together bloggers interested in food, travel, and related topics for a weekly virtual party. Last week we concentrated on appetizers and drinks, this week it will be main courses and desserts. Friday Chicken makes great leftovers!

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Friday Chicken – Stuffing

  • 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch or red pepper flakes
  • 2 fresh brioche rolls or other soft bread, torn into pieces
  • 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 small handfuls of golden raisins or currents
Stuffing

Sausage and Raisin Stuffing

  • 1 large chicken (I’ve used roasting chickens to great success and more leftovers)
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add the sausage, crumble it into small pieces as it browns.
  3. Add the onion, celery, Herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
  4. Stir and continue to sauté on medium heat until the onion and celery are softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into pieces in a large bowl.
  6. Add the raisins and mix.
  7. When cooked, add the contents of the skillet and mix well.
  8. If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl.
  9. Cover and set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and the reach of the dogs.

Preparing and baking the chicken

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. You will need a roasting pan big enough to hold a rack, preferably V shapped
  3. Remove about 2 cups of stuffing into another bowl (you will not want to contaminate the bulk of the stuffing)
  4. Dry the whole chicken with paper towels, inside and out
  5. Gently, with your hands, loosen the skin over the breast and legs. You do this by gently sliding your hand under the skin. Be careful not to tear it.
  6. Press the stuffing into the cavity you’ve created completely covering the breast and pushing the stuffing over the tops of the legs and thighs. If it tears slightly (this often happens near the tail end) use a small skewer or toothpick to sew the skin together.
  7. Brush the chicken with butter or oil and place on the rack.
  8. Roast for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until done, timing will depend on the size of your chicken and how “done” you like it. We prefer our chicken still very slightly pink. If it browns too quickly, tent the breast loosely with foil.
Prepared Chicken Before Roasting (I know it looks anemic)

Prepared Chicken Before Roasting (I know it looks anemic)

Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken After Roasting

Baked Remaining stuffing

  1. Put the remaining stuffing into a baking dish, add about ¾ cup of chicken stock and cover the dish with foil.
  2. When the chicken has baked for 35 minutes, add the stuffing to the oven.
  3. Bake covered for 25 minutes, then uncover until the top has browned and is crisp.
  4. Serve with the chicken.
Raisin Stuffing

Baked Stuffing with Sausage and Raisins

This stuffing is exceptional. Over the years I’ve changed it to reflect the changing tastes of my family and friends. The original “seed” recipe came from my (now ex) mother-in-law in Wisconsin. She used hamburger rolls, poultry seasoning, margarine, and raisins. The raisins have remained as a crucial part of the recipe.

Use any leftover stuffing in sandwiches, as a “bed” for poached eggs, or in a bread soup. The cornbread and brioche will thicken the broth beautifully.

Panini with stuffing

Stuffing Panini

The panini above was made with raisin stuffing (regular dark raisins), cranberry sauce, red onions, and mozzarella. It’s reason enough to make stuffing even if it isn’t Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Friday Chicken

Friday Chicken

December in the kitchen – Coconut crusted chicken and persimmon caprese

December in the kitchen – Coconut crusted chicken and persimmon caprese

I love a crisp coating on chicken, but would like to avoid the refined carbohydrates and fat of fried chicken. I’ve been searching for something that gives chicken that same satisfying crunch in a baked version. Paleo circles use almond meal to coat chicken. I tried it and found it to be too heavy, not crisp enough, and fairly high in calories (although delicious).

Then I had an idea; what about coconut meal? Maybe coconut meal (which has more texture than coconut flour) would be a healthy way to add coconut flavor to the chicken, eliminate gluten, and increase crispness. As an added benefit, it is both high in fiber and low in saturated fat. And, coconut fried shrimp have a lovely crunch (although there is still the problem of frying), so crunch is possible.

Thus was born Coconut Crusted Chicken!

With the chicken I wanted to serve something festive. There were some Fuyu persimmons, picked up at a farm stand the week before, in a bowl on the counter. I made a simple caprese salad by replacing the usual tomatoes with persimmons, garnishing with pomegranate seeds and chopped almonds. As a finishing touch I drizzled an aged balsamic vinegar over the whole.

coconut crusted chicken

Coconut crusted chicken

Coconut Crusted Chicken

  • 6 -8 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed to remove any excess skin and fat (you can use other cuts, adjust the cooking time)
  • 1 cup of coconut meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place racks in a roasting or baking pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer.
  3. Place the coconut meal, salt, and cumin in a shallow bowl or plate and mix.
  4. Roll the chicken in the coating, patting it on to cover all sides
  5. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the racks.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until juices run clear and chicken is crisp.
persimmon salad with mozzarella

Persimmon caprese

Persimmon Caprese Salad

  • 4 fuyu persimmons, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup of chopped roast almonds
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Alternate the persimmon and mozzarella slices on a platter.
  2. Generously salt and pepper.
  3. Garnish with the almonds and pomegranate seeds.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
persimmon salad

Persimmon caprese

I added a salad of arugula for a touch of green and the sharpness of the leaves.

Coconut crusted chicken with persimmon caprese

Coconut crusted chicken with persimmon caprese

It worked!

I’m taking this to the party at Friday Favorites sponsored by the Blog The Diary of a Real Housewife, and Real Food Fridays sponsored by Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen. Come join us at the last parties of 2014. Happy Holidays!

December in the kitchen – Marmalade chicken

December in the kitchen – Marmalade chicken

I was all ready to create a new recipe tonight but ran out of steam, does that ever happen to you? So, what to do? I poked around in the pantry and fridge to discover what could be used as a quick, easy, hassle free “dress up” for the chicken thighs I had planned to cook. I found a jar of ginger marmalade and some whole grain mustard; together with some soy sauce they would make a simple glaze for the chicken. Three ingredients (not counting the chicken), what could be easier?

You could use any kind of marmalade you have on hand…ginger, orange or lemon. You could also use chicken breasts or legs or wings, I just happened to have thighs which are favored by my family.

Marmalade baked chicken

  • 1/2 cup of marmalade
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of Dijon mustard, regular or whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 6-8 chicken bone-in thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat
marmalade baked chicken

marmalade baked chicken

  1. Melt the marmalade in a small saucepan or the microwave; mix with the mustard and soy sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  3. Line a baking pan with foil, place some racks on top (I used cookie cooling racks). The racks will keep the thighs out of the melting fat below.
  4. Pat the thighs dry with paper towels, place them skin side up on the racks in the baking pan. Brush the marmalade mix over the skin and exposed meat.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 ½ hour depending on the size of the thighs.

 This is a perfect dish for a busy weekday evening. Bake some sweet potatoes in the oven with the chicken, make a salad and dinner is ready with a minimum of fuss and hands-on time.

baked chicken

Marmalade chicken

I made a lentil and cauliflower couscous to go with the chicken, look for that recipe on another post.

You could save the juices to use in soup or another dish. Pour the juices in the bottom of the pan into a large heatproof container and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, skim off the fat and discard it.

Tip – I keep the cans from tomatoes or other canned goods for discarding fat. Place the fat in the can, put the can in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Plastic yogurt containers also work.

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday to share with Angie from the Novice Gardener as well as Real Food Fridays hosted by Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen. This is the busy season for us all.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party-1