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Old 12-27-2007, 07:11 PM   #1
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Clay Bakers

I am interested in the opinions of those using clay bakers (e.g. Roemertopf, and similar) to cook poultry.

It seems to me this cooking technique is similar to the method of using an oven cooking bag; in which case the slits in the bag allow the meat to "breathe" a little... similar to the porous nature of the clay baker.

Any opinions are welcome, I am thinking about getting a Roemertopf soon, to cook poultry and roasts.

Dan

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Old 12-27-2007, 07:29 PM   #2
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Hey Dan,

if you have a modern oven, you won't need one, as they simply mediate the temperature, somewhat like a referee. If you have extreme heat coming from the top of your oven and only mediocre heat coming from the bottom. a clay baker will absorb the two and distribute the heat in a more even fashion, so your chicken or roast isn't getting it too hard from one side.

Since the clay doesn't conduct heat very well, you won't get hotspots, so you won't get any burned areas on your chicken. but if your a good cook this shouldn't happen anyway.

negative sides- you can do the exact same thing with a clay pot you get at a hardware store, and they have holes in the bottom (which will be the top if you use it for cooking) so you can put your probe thermometer through.. you do have one don't you?

they are a pain in the butt to up keep, and you also have to store them. and essentially they do nothing but cook evenly, something your oven is supposed to do already.

Dan if you want my opinion I think if you have lots of money and time on your hands and want something to play with go for it. they certainly make novelty conversation pieces, and if I was retired and had oodles of time and money I might get a large one just for making slow roasted prime rib.

but for normal cooking I think its a waste of time and money. unless of course you don't have an oven and cook with coals, in that case, dig a hole puts lots of coals in it, put your bird in the clay cooker and set it on the coals, top with more coals, then dirt, wait several hours and your ready to eat. Thats all this design is based on. coal and ground cooking. somewhat like a dutch oven.

I don't mean to dampen your parade with negativity Dan, its just the truth, there are 1.2 million kitchen gadgets out there whose sole purpose is to take a buck from your pocket, and this is one of them..
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Old 12-27-2007, 07:43 PM   #3
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Fincher, thank you so much for explaining this so clearly. So for folks whose ovens are old and cranky and heat unevenly, this might be helpful (but a clay flower pot would do as well). But if your oven is functioning well, it's unnecessary. I'm glad to know this because storage is an issue for most of us. Who needs a big, bulky item we don't really need?
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Old 12-27-2007, 07:57 PM   #4
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They may mediate temp, but the purpose of a clay cooker is to keep food moist. You soak the cooker in water before you use it so that it releases steam as the food cooks.

Never seen them with holes, as that would defeat the whole purpose.

I have one and think it's ok. Was a gift. I don't really like how poultry comes out and have never used it for meat. I prefer dry heat or braising.

It is appropriate for a perfectly functioning oven, as its utility is unrelated to its crankiness or lack thereof.
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Old 12-27-2007, 08:17 PM   #5
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you soak it in water for the integrity of the pot I believe. being unglazed and porous, the food inside would not benefit much from the release of steam, as most would simply pour out the top of the pot

besides if you want to cook in a moist environment there are simpilar techniques to use. such as brasing, much easier and cheaper

"never seen them with holes, defeats purpose"- no not at all, if your roasting a chicken, the last thing you want is the water vapor making your chicken soggy.

I stand on my position that its a waste of money.. the only thing its good for is even heat cooking. if you want to cook in a moist environment, then braise.

if you want a crisp chicken roast

if your chicken turns out dry, then you probably over cooked it. don't spend loads of money on something that could easily be fixed by time and knowledge.
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Old 12-27-2007, 08:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fincher View Post
you soak it in water for the integrity of the pot I believe. being unglazed and porous, the food inside would not benefit much from the release of steam, as most would simply pour out the top of the pot

besides if you want to cook in a moist environment there are simpilar techniques to use. such as brasing, much easier and cheaper

"never seen them with holes, defeats purpose"- no not at all, if your roasting a chicken, the last thing you want is the water vapor making your chicken soggy.

I stand on my position that its a waste of money.. the only thing its good for is even heat cooking. if you want to cook in a moist environment, then braise.

if you want a crisp chicken roast

if your chicken turns out dry, then you probably over cooked it. don't spend loads of money on something that could easily be fixed by time and knowledge.

You soak them in water so it gives off steam during the cooking process, not for the pot's integrity. You start in a cold oven to ensure that. They are tightly sealed with no holes.

I don't think they distribute heat any more evenly than say a LC french oven.

But I don't disagree with you about their utility. I don't like steamed meat of any type.
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Old 12-27-2007, 09:15 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the responses. I am probably going to stick with my standard roasting pans and dutch oven braising.

I love the results from "standard" dry roasting and/or braising techniques, but it is tempting to try new things now and again. ("How can I make this bird taste even BETTER?...")

Seems like I have more cookbooks than a library, and have been enjoying all the different ways to cook poultry, lately.
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Old 12-28-2007, 10:32 AM   #8
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I prefer to bake lamb and venison shanks in a roemertopf. I've also used it to proof and bake bread. Fincher seems to have some strong opinions about something he's apparently never used. I have doubts about the food safety of terracotta used to make flower pots.
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Old 12-28-2007, 11:43 AM   #9
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I actually love mine. If we get an old hen I will toss it in there and it makes that stringy old bird fork tender. You need to remember to soak it in water for about 15 minutes or so though.
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Old 12-28-2007, 01:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
I prefer to bake lamb and venison shanks in a roemertopf. I've also used it to proof and bake bread. Fincher seems to have some strong opinions about something he's apparently never used. I have doubts about the food safety of terracotta used to make flower pots.
Id like to try and bake bread in mine.I got lucky and got my Romertopf at a thrift store in mint condition for $5.00 cant beat that.I made a chicken in it once with vegetables I wasn't impressed but I think it would be great for baking bread.
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