Saturday 31 January 2015

Schlemmertopf Chicken

When giving people kitchen equipment as gifts, I would advise to either a) give something small and useful for every day cooking or b) make sure they actually want and have space for what you are giving them. Kitchens get cluttered really, really quickly, and we do not have much space to spare in ours. Therefore, the following item was eyed with immense skepticism when it first appeared in our house.

It had been discovered in a charity shop at a bargain price, and the giver assured us that it would supply us with the most succulent chicken that would fall off the bone by simply looking at it. So I smiled and found a corner to shove it into while wondering why they couldn't have found some teaspoons to give us.

We are always losing teaspoons. I think they must hang out with the odd socks somewhere. And the scissors.

Several months later I decided to finally give this baby a shot, and asked my husband to google what we had to do with the thing. Lots of instructional videos came up in German. Great. Basically we learned we had to soak the lid first for 15 minutes and then but the filled dish in a cold oven. Um, ok. No real timings given, so we just kind of winged it. Well, I winged it - my husband was busy hiding from the three children after spending two days looking after them.

In went the lid to soak, reflecting the inside of our kitchen light. I noticed Gregg's now has ceiling lights in their bakeries like ours, because we have similarly classy taste in decor.

I cut some vegetables up to add some flavour and placed them in the bottom of the dish: an onion, a few peeled cloves of garlic, a couple carrots, and a parsnip.

Then I put on the chicken. Plenty of salt, sage, and rosemary went on top. If I was a real foodie I'd have herb gardens on my windowsill, but instead I have Tesco's selection of dried herbs at my disposal.

I just barely managed to fit the lid over the top, then put the whole thing in the oven, switched my fan/convection oven on to 170C, and set the timer to two hours.

When I lifted the lid it looked like this:

Yes, I made the picture small because it looked kind of gross. I like a nicely browned chicken and this obviously wasn't as the whole thing had steam circulating round it the whole time. The good news was that all the juices stayed in it, it was fully cooked, and this thing, this SCHLEMMERTOPF, meant the chicken was pretty impossible to dry out, even when cooking it breast side up. And I didn't have to add any butter or oil - the veg at the bottom cooked in the juices and the meat was juicy and tender. Real healthy like, yo. After we'd hacked it apart it looked like this:

So yes, it was good, just not for a person who likes a crispy skin. The flavours definitely all transferred through, and I am now curious to try the SCHLEMMERTOPF dish with other casserole type things...I just need to find a recipe that isn't in German...or I need to learn German.

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