Why oh why as cooks are we intimated by random tasks? I have a friend who is terrified of learning knife skills; she thinks its impossible. I have another friend who never bakes because baking doesn't work for her. I have another friend who only bakes because she "can't make anything good that isn't made of sugar."
So what's my silly thing? I don't roast. I don't roast anything. On Thanksgiving I make everything on the menu- everything except the Turkey that is. I'm terrified of not cooking meat correctly in its whole state or as a large piece. I think this stems from very particular conversations that my mother used to have with me about cooking raw meat and all the germs and viruses that could kill you if you don't cook the meat enough. But then again we tended to eat slightly over-cooked meat because of this fact, and because I became used to slightly over-cooking meat, I never got used to the proper way to make it tender and juicy without stewing, braising, or baking with liquid. The result? Roastophobia. Well folks, Roastophobia ends now. My Schlemmertopf killed it.
Before you say, Gesundheit, I'm sure you've seen a Schlemmertopf before. Its those giant clay bakers lurking on the top shelves of cookware stores that you're never really quite sure of. They look like this
How did I meet my future friend? My aunt, a fantastic cook and gardener extraordinaire purchased one some years back. From the time I tasted the wonderful poultry she prepared for us in that crazy, clay oven, I knew one day I would have one too (thank you Sur La Table gift card.) My Schlemmertopf killed my fear of roasting because that sucker is fool-proof; the fool in this situation would be yours truly. Now it's true, I took the easy way out; I bought this giant clay thing because I was too chicken to roast a chicken without it BUT I would like to point out that its a very good investment. See, what makes the Schlemmertopf system so wonderful, is that it cooks through baking and steaming the meat in its own juices. That means you don't need oil, butter, cream or any liquids if you don't want to use them. Health conscious, dairy free and kosher cooks unite! This also eliminates the time-filled tradition known as the great baste walk: the walk one does every 15-20 minutes between the oven and other parts of their house in order to baste their meats while they roast for however many hours they roast for.
Why this sudden interest in roasting meat you may ask? Due to not being able to purchase chicken from any butcher in town because of a rise in soy feed (read all about my troubles here) I have found a couple of Grass-Fed chicken farms that sell at the local farmer's markets. Trouble is, they only sell whole chickens. I need to eat chicken reader; I can't only be eating red meat and cheese for protein, its just not healthy! And thus, let the roasting begin.
First, I rinsed the chicken, pulled the skin off of it, made she it was fully gutted (gross!) and then rinsed it again.
Then I stuffed it with one white onion (cut in half), several rosemary sprigs, and a couple cloves of garlic. I salted and lightly peppered the chicken, and covered with a combo of Herbs de Provence and sweet paprika.
I also cut two large turnips in half and threw them next the chicken so they could roast up.
Then I followed the directions recommended by the manufacturer, which is placing the covered baker (prepped with a pre-soaked top) in a cold oven. For 10 minutes, you put your oven on low. After those 10 minutes you bake at 425 F for 90 minutes.
When I removed the giant oven within an oven from my oven, I was very careful to open it away from my face, as it is propelled by a large amount of steam.
The veil of steam parted to reveal something I've never produced before:
A Perfectly Roast Chicken!!!!!
I took the turnips (which were delicious) and smashed them with some parmesan and garlic for a side dish. The chicken fell of the bone, juicy and tender in the best and most perfect way. I ate every part of this wonderful and simple dish. And I plan to make all my meat in it for years to come!