Posts Tagged ‘chicken and mushroom pilaf’

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I’m still experimenting with my Römertopf, and tonight’s dish was a hit with the boys.  We’re finding lots of the meals we cook in this terracotta pot are rice based – it seems to really suit the slow cooking process.  This dish was created on the fly tonight and the next time I make it, I’m going to use thighs and drumsticks.  Cutting up the whole chicken into pieces meant that the bone-in pieces cooked to perfection, whereas the breast meat dried out a little too much.

To start with, some basic principles we’ve learnt so far about cooking in the Römertopf:

1. Always soak the pot and lid in cold water in the sink for about half an hour.  Put it in the sink after you’ve washed all your ingredients, and let it soak while you prep.

2. Always put cold ingredients in the wet pot, and pop it into a cold oven, then turn it up to heat.  When you pull it out of the oven, put the hot dish onto some folded tea towels – plonking it on the cold bench might cause it to crack.

3. We always set the oven at 200C fan-forced (electric).  No real reason why, it just seems to have worked for the recipes we’ve cooked so far.  We also seem to cook everything for two hours.

4. Clean the Römertopf by putting it in the dishwasher.  Those are the instructions that come with our glazed pot, and I have to say it’s been cleaning up brilliantly in the machine.

5. Don’t get too stuck on exact quantities or ingredients.  This really is peasant food, so make use of anything you can find in the fridge.  The only rule we have about quantities is this: to make the Arborio rice in the way we like it (sticky and expanded), we need to add twice as much liquid as rice in volume terms.  So for one cup of Arborio rice, we add two cups of water.  In the recipe below, I substituted ½ cup red lentils for some of the rice, which gave the dish an extra sticky consistency.  Surprisingly the lentils disappeared completely on cooking, although they were easy to taste in the flavour and texture of the finished dish.  Feel free to use 1½ cups rice instead if you’d prefer.

Note: when we use Basmati rice, we only add 1½ cups of liquid per 1 cup of rice, as we prefer the texture less creamy in that case.

  • 1 cup arborio rice, rinsed
  • ½ cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • King Brown and Swiss Brown mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • ½ leek (white part)
  • 1 large free-range chicken, or chicken pieces
  • small piece of salami or pancetta
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Herbie’s Tagine Spice Mix (I think smoked paprika might a nice alternative, but you could use anything you have at home)
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: Fill the sink with cold water, then soak the Römertopf Baker for 15 – 30 mins.  In the meantime, prepare the ingredients.

Step 2: Cut the chicken into pieces and remove the skin off everything except the wings.  Rub 1 – 2 tsp of the spice mix onto the chicken pieces.

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Step 3: Chop up all the other ingredients.

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Step 4: Remove the soaked base from the sink.  Add the rice and lentils, then all the chopped vegetables and salami.  Give them a mix to combine.  Nestle the chicken pieces into the rice.  If I was doing this again with a whole chicken, I’d be inclined to bury the breast pieces, to keep them moist.

Step 5: Pour the chicken stock over the ingredients, ensuring all the rice and lentils are covered.  Season to taste with a little salt and pepper (this might not be necessary if you’ve used a lot of salami, or if you’re using a salty chicken stock or spice mix). Take the lid out of the sink and pop it onto the base.  Put the whole pot into a cold oven and turn the thermostat up to 200C.  Note: you might need to do this more gradually if you have a gas oven – please refer to your Römertopf instructions.

Step 6: Come back two hours later and pull the finished dish out of the oven.  Depending on your oven, you might want to check on the dish after the first hour or so to see how it’s traveling.  We usually let our dishes rest a little while before serving, to allow the rice to absorb any excess liquid.  Enjoy!

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