I love my Romatoff claypot, I have always wanted to cook all the food in it, but have struggled to find good recipes. I once found a fantastic cookbook in my local library, but I had to return it, and it was out of print so couldn’t buy my own copy. So when I found smart clay pot cookery by Carol Heding Munson some years ago, I was quite excited.
Then I read the recipes a bit closer. Again, it is a US cookbook, so there are ingredients in the book that are difficult to get in Australia, there are also a couple of recipes which have magically appearing ingredients in the instructions, or who forget entire ingredients in the instructions. One recipe (not featured below), has you brown some chicken, and then assemble all the other ingredients in the claypot before putting it in the oven – at no point does the chicken get put in the pot. I’m not sure how that was supposed to work. There are also plenty of points in the book where you’re told to soak the claypot for 15 minutes, and then are given (in the case of bread particularly) an hour or so of work to do before the pot is required.
Those points aside though the book has some really good ideas and I will be keeping it around to play with those ideas. I’ll not modify the recipes below (except to put everything into metric), but will put suggested changes in the comments afterwards. Overall, I give this book 3 stars out of 5.
- 8 ounces rotelle
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 340g chicken breast, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 120g mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can (800g) crushed tomatoes
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 12 fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon mild pepper sauce
- 90g ounces reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cubed
- 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- Soak a medium sized clay pot and lid in water for 10 – 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta.
- Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken and mushrooms; saute until the chicken is lightly browned, 5 – 8 minutes.
- Drain the pot and lid. Pour in the tomatoes. Stir in the garlic, basil, onion, sugar, celery seeds, nutmet, pepper sauce, pasta, chicken and mushrooms, and cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta-chicken mixture.
- Cover the pot, and place in a cold oven. Set oven to 180C and cook for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more.
Notes on this recipe:
- Using fresh onion would probably work far better in this dish than dehydrated onion, which adds a really odd flavour to the meal. If you are going to add onion, cook it with the mushrooms and chicken.
- If you can’t find celery seeds, you can substitute fennel seeds. At only 1/8th of a teaspoon though, this is barely any flavour.
- You can substitute pasta too for whichever pasta is your favourite.
Cheddar Cheese Bread
- 5 – 6 cups of bread flour
- 2 packages of quick-rising yeast (or 14g dry yeast)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cups warm water
- All-purpose flour, for work surface
- 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Cooking spray
- Soak a medium sized clay pot and lid in water for 10 to 15 minutes. While the pot is soaking, combine 5 cups of the bread flour with the yeast, sugar, salt and paprika in a large bowl, whisking to mix thoroughly.
- Combine the water and oil in a small bowl, whisking to blend. Pour into the flour mixture, beating to mix thoroughly. Gradually add enough of the remaining 1 cup of bread flour to form a soft dough.
- Sprinkle a small amount of the all-purpose flour over a work surface. Turn out the dough and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, incorporating the cheese (or knead in a food processor or electric mixer with dough hooks, following the manufacturer’s directions). Form into a smooth ball.
- Mist a large bowl with the spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towl. Let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.
- Divide the dough in half. Stretch each half to 30 cm x 35cm. Roll up jelly-roll fashion and tuck the ends under.
- Drain the clay pot (the lid should remain in water) and line it with parchment paper. Coat with the spray. Place the rolls of dough side by side in the pot. Mist with the spray. Cover the pot with plastic wrap. Float the pot in warm water until the dough has doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes, taking care not to get water in the pot. Discard the plastic wrap.
- Drain the lid and wipe the inside dry. Cover the pot, and place in a cold oven. Set oven to 200C, and bake until done, about 1 hour.
Notes on this recipe:
- This is one of those recipes where you’re told to soak the pot for 15 minutes and then leave it there for the remainder of the time. Do not take the clay pot out after 15 minutes.
- Kneading something else into bread dough is hard, but is made a lot easier when you have access to a machine, such as a standing mixer or food processor. This is a lot of dough though, so be careful to not overload the motor of your machine.
- This bread was a big favourite with everyone who was visiting, and everyone who lived here. It was completely devoured, and one of my guests said I should have been charging them. It’s a really soft bread with a slight crust. The reddish colour is from the paprika, which is undetectable in the taste of the bread (which is sad for me because I like paprika).
- If you only have one sink big enough to fit the clay pot, as I do, turn the lid down so you can rest the other pot on top, and fill your sink as much as you can, ensuring that the pot itself is mostly in water, and that no water gets into where the bread is sitting.