What good is having a clay baker if you’re not going to cook anything in it? So, I scoured the interweb looking for something that might make good use of my newest kitchen toy.
On about.com, I found a recipe for chicken tarragon that sounded promising. When I made the recipe, I did 1½ times the amount of the recipe because I needed six servings (Brand new to clay cooking and I’m doing it for a dinner party. I know! I’m a crazy risk taker!).
I give you the original recipe here. If you don’t feel like breaking down a whole chicken (or only like white meat), just use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (four to six of them should do the trick).
Chicken Tarragon for the Clay Cooker
- 1 frying chicken, cut in half or quarters
- ½ C chicken broth
- Juice of 1 fresh lemon (about 2 T)
- 1 T tarragon vinegar
- 1 t dried tarragon leaves
- 1½ t kosher salt
- ½ t black pepper
- 1 t Hungarian sweet paprika (thanks to my sister-in-law, I happened to have some directly from Hungary)
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ C heavy cream
- 1 T all-purpose flour
Pre-soak both top and bottom of a large clay cooker in water for at least 15 minutes. Drain. Line with parchment paper for easier clean-up. (I didn’t line with parchment because I thought the whole point was to have the darn thing get seasoned over time. Yes, there was scraping, but nothing too difficult.)
Arrange chicken, skin-side up, in the bottom of the clay cooker (I definitely had to layer them as I had a few extra breasts in the pot. But, one chicken should fit pretty nicely in a standard sized baker). Pour chicken broth down the side into the bottom. Whisk together the lemon juice and tarragon vinegar. Drizzle evenly over the chicken.
In a small bowl, stir together tarragon leaves, salt, pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle mixture over chicken pieces. Top with shallots and garlic.
Cover the clay cooker with the lid and place into a cold oven. Turn on oven to 450°. Bake about 1¼ hours, until chicken is lightly golden.
Remove chicken and cover to keep warm. Whisk flour into heavy cream. Pour juices from the bottom of the clay cooker into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in heavy cream. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often. Serve gravy over chicken. (So, I did the gravy a more traditionally. I heated 1 T butter and then added the flour so as to make a roux. Then, I mixed in the cream and pan juices. I just felt this would result in a better gravy.)
I was skeptical—especially about the whole cold oven business. I thought for sure the skin would be mushy or that the chicken would have a boiled meat taste. Neither one happened. It was, in fact, remarkably good. Moist (I know, I know, but it wasn’t really juicy… just moist.) on the inside and skin that was tasty. It’s not crispy skin that you’d get from baking in a traditional casserole, but it’s quite nice. The paprika gave it a bit of color as well.
I am a happy convert to the clay baking way.