Clay Pot Chicken, Rice and Lentils

This morning we woke up to the first real snow of the year––good thing I’d purchased a chicken. The following is a recipe I’ve been tweaking each winter when the snow flies; this year I added a cup of dry lentils to the rice. Below, you’ll find a slide show I made several years ago after visiting friends one snowy winter in Colorado. My friend’s husband demonstrated to me how to make his specialty:  Clay Pot Chicken.

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Use an unglazed clay pot,or at least insure the lid's unglazed.

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Soak non-glazed clay before cooking.

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Assemble ingredients.

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My friend organizing ingredients.

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Toss long-cooking rice w/vegies & aromatics.

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Season, place pats of butter over breast & under skin, stuff w/onion & tie legs.

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Always put clay pot in cold oven, THEN pre-heat.

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Nothing goes to waste; entrails for the dogs.

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My friend serving sautéed livers & gizzards to his dogs.

Clay Pot Chicken & Rice

Clay Pot Chicken & Rice

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Ready to eat.

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The leftovers make awesome chicken & rice soup.

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Roasting chickens is my favorite way of using my clay pot, and it’s a technique that has been traced back to Roman times. My recipe varies according the the ingredients found in my fridge. You can mix brussels sprouts or cherry tomatoes into the rice before roast. Perhaps you’d prefer a cajun rub to the rosemary one I used.

Many use an all-clay unglazed Romertopf roaster. According to Saveur. com, the Romertopf was invented by a German and is modeled on an ancient Etruscan design. Today, they are produced in Mexico with the same mixture of clays as the originals.

I use a 4 1/2 quart clay roaster at with a glazed bottom and unglazed lid that I purchased locally. The moisture absorbed in the large domed lid distributed moist heat producing a tender, evenly cooked, golden bird. The aesthetics of cooking in a natural, earthen element are pleasing; a beautiful oven-to-table serving dish.

Not only does the snow inspire my recipes, it also inspires my characters. My work in progress, THE MAIDEN TOWER, has a character who’d just left Idaho and moved to Key West. This morning as I watched the snow fall, I tunneled into two of my “maidens”, Linnea and Delphina, as they talked about snow:

“So back to snow,” I say, feeling a pang of sorrow for my twin. “How does it smell?”

She pinches her nose. “It’s hard to articulate. I can describe the feelings I get when it snows—content, safe, cozy. And what snow makes me want to eat—fondue, meaty stews, sticky pudding—foods that are unappealing to me down here. But I can’t explain the smell.” She shrugs. “Snow is so beautiful, and yet it smells like nothing.”

She chews at a cuticle on the side of her forefinger, a puzzled look on her face. “Not everything that’s beautiful in nature has a smell. Unless you’d consider nothingness a smell.”

“Aha! You’ve combed the country searching for a place that suits you, and all you’re looking for is nothing? That’s a healthy, Zen approach to life.”

Linnea’s eyes glaze over, and when she speaks, it’s in a hushed voice. “When it snows, it’s always a miracle. There’s a stillness, a sanctity in the white space that surrounds me.” She wraps her arms around her midriff and shivers. “I snuggle deep inside myself, and drift. The landscape’s a blank page and its beauty is experienced in its nothingness. That nothingness, Delphina, is my chapel. What, to me, is holy.”

(Speaking of holy, BTW, the holy grail of earthenware cookery: Never put a clay pot in a preheated oven; it may crack. As well, on soak the elements of your pot that are UNGLAZED.)

Recipe: Clay Pot Chicken & Rice

Ingredients

  • 1, 4 1/2 quart, clay pot cooker
  • 2 cups long cook rice (a rice that cooks in 30-45 minutes)
  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown lentils
  • Specified amount* of liquid such as wine, stock, water or a combination (see critical notes below)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup carrots cut into 1/2 inch coins
  • 1, 4-5 pound, whole roasting chicken
  • 2 tablespoons dry, crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, peeled but left whole**

Instructions

  1. Soak unglazed clay according to manufacturers directions, apx. 15 minutes.
  2. Combine rice, liquid, mushrooms, carrots, and brussels sprouts at bottom of pot. Combine rosemary, salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper (adding additional pepper to taste) and rub inside chicken cavity. Lift up chicken skin and rub under skin, then over the exterior skin. Stick pieces of butter under skin over breast. Place chicken over rice mixture.
  3. Place bay leaf in back of cavity and stuff with onion; tie chicken legs together with string or kitchen twine.
  4. Cover pot with lid and place on middle rack of a cold oven. Turn on heat to 450 degrees and cook 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hours; or until chicken juices run clear when thigh is pierced. (My 4 3/4 pound chicken took exactly 1 1/2 hours to roast to perfection. Take care not to overcook.)
  5. Remove onion, chop and stir into rice. Pour residual juices from cavity onto a serving platter. Carve chicken and serve with juices and rice mixture. (Note: leftovers make a marvelous chicken and rice soup.)

*Whatever rice you use; halve the liquid requirement on packaging. (2 cups of the rice I used called for 4 1/2 cups of liquid, therefore I only used 2 1/4 cups, but since lentils need water, as well, I used 3 cups total liquid–2 cups stock and 1 cup white wine.)

**Onion will remain firm through cooking. Feel free to cut into pieces and stir into rice prior to cooking, or omit altogether.

Time to soak clay: 15 minutes

Active Time: 20 minutes

Roast Time: 90-120 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Pumpkin Flan with Caramel Sauce + Giveaway.

UPDATE: CONGRATS, TERRI!  Your name was PICKED–The CD and dish towels are on their way!!!  

Thanksgiving yum is on the horizon.  In the right hand column →→→you’ll see a Holiday Cookbook link next to a Gold Ball under “Find Your Favorite Recipe“. Here, I’ve put together dozens of recipes that might suit your table. Also included is a super-simple segment and there are a few recipes suitable for gift-giving, as well.

Feel free to “regift” my gift, if you win (-:

The recipe for pumpkin flan below tastes like a Thanksgiving dessert should taste, but it’s not super heavy.  I’m in the middle of writing a new book, THE MAIDEN TOWER, which is replete with Cuban cuisine, such as this, so I’ll be working on a number of Cuban recipes in the coming months. Any Cuban favorites out there? Any Abuelos or Abuelas in the group? If so, I’m listening!
So here’s the GIVEAWAY, re-giftaway, if you prefer. While in Portugal last month, I purchased several embroidered kitchen towels, which could be used (or regifted!) in the upcoming holiday season.

It’s not the expected sort of thing you’d find in a Giveaway, but why not? This blog feels at home in the kitchen. I’m also throwing in an Audio Book of my newly released book: THE WELCOME HOME DINER.

I’ll draw from the selection of comments (below link)  to select a winner, and will update this post Nov. 28th  and announce. (If you subscribe to this post, you’ll get the note in your in-box).

Don’t forget your Furbabies this Thanksgiving. Here my pal, JC, serves up sautéed Turkey livers and gizzards to his dogs.

I’ve been hosting a Lake Union Author page this week, which has been enlightening. I’m gaining much insight into our readership. For instance, when starting off this hideous week, reeling from the Texas tragedy, I asked readers  who they received more comfort from:  their furbabies or us humanoids.

Get this: I received over sixty comments, most including pictures of pets. Only ONE PERSON  wrote that human beings gave them more comfort than their pets. Humans VS animals. Whose the “animal”, right?

This group chooses a book each month to read and then discuss. November’s pick was THE WELCOME HOME DINER. I’d love to have any of you join our chat on November 30th–lots of interesting, oftentimes thorny, topics surrounding the plot will be involved. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2jeMoo5

So here’s my question. Your answer will be entered into the giveaway:

If you could only select one dish to eat on Thanksgiving (BESIDES TURKEY), what would it be???

 Leave a Comment  

Recipe: Abuela’s Pumpkin Flan

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CUSTARD
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone or cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • FOR THE CARAMEL
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon crème of tartar (to prevent sugar syrups from crystallizing)
  • FOR THE GARNISH (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the custard, in a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until combined. Whisk in sugar, milks, mascarpone or cream cheese, pumpkin, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. (If mascarpone or cream cheese don’t incorporate well, give it a few whirs in a food processor.) Stir to release air bubbles. Reserve.
  3. To make the caramel, place sugar, water and crème of tartar in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and boil, without stirring, until caramel turns the color of apple cider, 6-8 minutes. Watch carefully as it is very easy to burn caramel. (At this time, you will also want to bring a separate pot of water to a low boil for the bain marie.)
  4. Remove caramel from heat and carefully pour mixture into mold or ramekin. Even a small bit of errant caramel may cause a bad burn. Swirl it around to coat entire bottom and sides. Let caramel cool and harden, 2-3 minutes.
  5. When caramel has hardened, pour custard into mold or ramekins. Pour hot water into the baking dish so it cover 2/3’s of the mold or ramekins.
  6. Carefully place baking dish(es) on the center rack of oven. Bake until the center of the custard is set and firm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from water bath and transfer to a rack until cool. Refrigerate 4-24 hours.
  8. To make the garnish, if using. in a pre-heated 350 degree oven, toss the pumpkin seeds with cardamom and honey. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper and spread with seed mixture. Bake until seeds are toasty, 5-7 minutes. Cool.
  9. To plate the flan after it has been chilled: Shimmy a spatula around the sides of flam. Place a plate large enough to incorporate flan and hold firmly over flan. Flip the pan, and let flan slide onto plate, allowing caramel to drizzle over the top. For ramekins, do the same thing.
  10. Garnish with honeyed pumpkin seeds, if using, and serve.

* EQUIPMENT: You will need a pie pan, individual ramekins or another mold of your choice. You will also need a baking dish large enough to accommodate the mold or ramekins. It will be used as a bain marie for baking the custard in hot water.

35 minutes to make the custard and caramel

45 minutes baking time

4-24 hours resting time in fridge

Number of servings (yield): 8-10 SERVINGS

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Curried Lentil and Whipped Potato Casserole–a healthy take on Shepherd’s Pie.

 

My world for a lentil!

Gad! What a week. A book launch + 24 hours in planes & airports + contracting purple diabunghi (some ghastly airborne virus) before arriving in Detroit delivered a woman ready to be scraped from the runway.

Shakily recovered, healthy comfort food that MUST INCORPORATE BEANS is what my body screams for. This Curried Lentil and Whipped Potato casserole fits the bill.

This take on a Shephard’s Pie (Shephard’s Pies traditionally incorporate meat) was a winter staple for the twenty years I owned the Back Alley Gourmet. The following recipe is what memory recalls.

I did make a few changes, one of which was using a ghee made with buffalo milk butter that I found at Trader Joe’s. Lightly seasoned with black mustard seed, turmeric, fennel seed, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom, I found it to be a great, short-cut flavor enhancer. I’m sure it will be my latest pantry staple for making quickie Indian dishes. (Ghee is clarified butter and a staple in Indian cooking. Indian recipes are not known for their brevity so any short-cuts are appreciated!)

Hungry for lentils? This link will direct you to a slide-show of  favorite lentil recipes I’ve made through the years. (Below the recipe you’ll find a few pics I took on my trip to Portugal.)

Hungry for lentils? This link will direct you to a slide-show of my favorite lentil recipes I’ve made through the years. (Below the recipe, you’ll find a few pics I took on my trip to Portugal.)

Recipe: Curried Lentil and Whipped Potato  Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon seasoned ghee* or canola oil
  • 1 ½-2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups carrots cut into large dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Chaat Masala or curry powder
  • 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups brown or green lentils, rinsed; small stones removed, if necessary
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Cayenne, as desired
  • Chopped cilantro, as desired
  • 4 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potaoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1-3**tablespoons unsalted butter or seasoned ghee, plus additional fat for dotting over casserole prior to baking.
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric (if not using seasoned ghee)
  • 1/2-3/4’s cup half-and-half, whole milk or skim milk**

Instructions

  1. Heat ghee or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Add onion, carrots and a pinch of salt and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and masala or curry powder and cook an additional minute.
  4. Stir in lentils, tomato sauce and stock and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are just tender, about 40 minutes. If liquid is absorbed before the lentils are cooked, add additional stock.
  5. While lentils are cooking, preheat oven to 450 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook potatoes in boiling water until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Stir in seasoned ghee or butter and half-and –half, whole or skim milk. (If not using the seasoned ghee, stir in turmeric at this time.) Season to taste with kosher salt and cayenne. If desired, further whip potatoes with an electric beater.
  6. Season lentil mixture to taste with kosher salt, cilantro (I used a small fistful) and cayenne.Spoon mixture into a 9X12-inch large-lipped casserole. Spoon and smooth mashed potatoes over top .
  7. Top casserole with dots of ghee or butter and brown on middle rack in hot oven for 9-12 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm. (Leftovers are a bonus!)

* I used a turmeric-seasoned ghee, purchased at Trader Joe’s. **Of course using several tablespoons of butter and half-and-half will add yummy richness to your mashed potatoes. But reducing the butter and using skimmed milk still makes for a savory casserole.

Active time: 50 minutes

Time to simmer lentils: About 40 minutes

Time to brown casserole: 10-12 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8 servings (leftovers have been appreciated throughout the week!)

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Portugal is a riotous tapestry of color–a feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. I’ve hundreds of photographs, but the following captures the Bohemian artistry of the country for me. And that snaky dish I’m eating at the bottom of this post? Fried eels, which are  staple of Aviero, and required eating when visiting this colorful town. 

 

 

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