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Posts Tagged ‘romertopf baker’

We’ve now had our Römertopf baker for over six months.

Compared to the photo above, taken when it was new, it’s now a little battle-worn…

…but the glaze on the inside remains perfect.  We take care not to scratch it with metal implements, and it rewards us by cleaning up a treat in the dishwasher.  The pots we get in Australia come directly from Germany, whereas the ones available in the US are made in Mexico and I don’t believe they have the interior glazing. Edit 2014: they’re now selling the glazed German made models in the US: http://romertopfusa.com/

We use our Römertopf at least once a fortnight and we’re astounded every time by how simple the process is.  There aren’t lots of pots and pans to wash up, and it’s an easy way to make use of whatever ingredients we have on hand.

In a nutshell, the procedure for our all-in-one rice and meat dinner is:

1. Soak the baker in cold water in the sink for at least 15 minutes.  We put it in before we start prepping ingredients.

2. Rinse one cup of Basmati rice and soak it in water.

3. Chop vegetables, prepare any meat.  No pre-browning or frying required.

4. Put the drained rice and vegetables in the bottom of the wet Römertopf, add two cups of stock, then lay the meat over the top.  Or, mix the whole lot together and put it in the baker, then cover with liquid, ensuring all the rice grains are submerged.  Often, instead of stock, we’ll use water, salt and seasonings.

5. Put the lid on and place the baker into a cold oven.  Turn the temperature up to 200C with fan, and bake for about an hour and a half.

Recently, I laid lamb shanks, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, over the top of the rice and vegetables and they cooked to sticky perfection.  The boys ate it so fast that I didn’t get a chance to take a photo.

Last week we made a chicken biryani in the Römertopf, adding half a packet of purchased seasoning mix, some onion, garlic, tamarind and curry leaves.  It was spicy, delicious, and just so easy.

The Römertopf Rustico baker is still only $39 at Peters of Kensington, which I think makes it the bargain of the year. It has certainly simplified our mid-week dinners.  The lack of added oil in the cooking process means that we’re eating better as well!

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las 052

My husband Pete is a genius.

That’s not news to anyone who actually knows him, but even after twenty-five years together, his cleverness still continues to astound me.  He can take a basic concept, turn it over in his head, and create something that no-one has ever considered before.

Take this lasagne for example.  After his initial resistance, Pete has fallen in love with our Römertopf baker.  He and Dredgey have formed a little club, in which they experiment with new dishes in the clay baker, then ring each other up and race next door to critique the finished dish as it’s pulled out of the oven.  Being males, they’ve come up with a set of guidelines on how the terracotta pot should be used.

Rule #1: all the ingredients  have to be cold and uncooked.  I did point out that some of the recipes that came with the pot involved precooking, but the guys have decided that doing so defeats the purpose of using the clay baker. Both of them were discomfited when I browned some chicken prior to adding it in, as that, apparently, is not “in the spirit” of the Römertopf baker.

Rule #2: the pot needs to be washed in the dishwasher. No soaking allowed.  Part of the reason for using the clay baker, I’m told, is its ease of clean up.  Don’t you love men and their rules?

Ok, onto last night’s dinner.  One would think that these parameters don’t really lend themselves to lasagne – a dish where each component is traditionally cooked before assembly, and which usually leaves the cooking vessel covered in baked-on cheese.  Lesser mortals might have been dissuaded, but not my husband.  After all, he’s an engineer. What you see above is his finished lasagne, baked from cold, and made up of almost all uncooked ingredients – fresh pasta, raw mince, ricotta, raw egg and cheese.  The only cooked ingredient was our homemade tomato passata, but this would probably work equally well with a store bought version.

The end result was a joy to eat.  It was absolutely delicious and we didn’t have a white sauce pot, a red sauce pot and a pasta pot to wash up.

I asked Pete to write up the recipe for me, and this is what I got.  Don’t worry, I’ll translate for you.  Big Boy and I laughed at how typically Pete-like the instructions were, so we thought we’d share it with you. I also thought James might find it amusing – he and Pete both have methodical minds…

004a

White Sauce

  • 400g fresh ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Mince Sauce

Fresh Pasta Sheets – about ½ kg (you won’t need them all)

Cheese

  • Mozzarella – 300g – sliced or grated – this is the one we use.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese – 1 cup

ingredients

Step 1: Soak the Römertopf baker in a sink of cold water for at least 15 – 30 minutes.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix all the White Sauce ingredients together until well combined.

Step 3: In another large bowl, mix all the Mince Sauce ingredients together, stirring well to break up any lumps in the mince.

Step 4: In the presoaked pot, spoon a third of the Mince Sauce over the base, then cover with a single layer of pasta sheets.  Follow this with half the White Sauce, then a handful of cheese, then another sheet of pasta.  Repeat, ending with a scattering of cheese on the top. Note that you use a third of the mince sauce each time, and a half of the white sauce.

For the persnickety, here is Pete’s layering chart :

  • Cheese (top layer)
  • Mince
  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • White Sauce
  • Pasta
  • Mince
  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • White Sauce
  • Pasta
  • Mince (bottom layer)

montage2

Step 5: Put the soaked lid on the pot, then place in a cold oven and raise the temperature to 200C.  Bake for 1½ hours.  Allow to rest for 15 – 30 minutes before serving, to allow the liquids to absorb into the dish. 

Note: check on the lasagne after the first hour of baking.   If it’s really wet (it will be moist, but shouldn’t be swimming), you might want to let it cook for a bit with the lid off to reduce the excess liquid.  We didn’t need to do this with our dish (ie. we cooked ours for the entire time with the lid on), but it can vary depending on the moisture content of the mince and passata.

las 009

Oh, and in case you’re wondering – see that dirty pot in the top picture, complete with burnt edges where the dish overflowed slightly?  It went in the dishwasher without any presoaking whatsoever.  This is how it came out.  Not completely clean, but oh so close that I really can’t complain…

001

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romertopf

I’ve admired these Römertopf clay bakers for years, but could never bring myself to fork out the $90 plus required to own one.  So when Peters of Kensington had them on sale recently for $39, it wasn’t a hard decision to make.  Well, it wasn’t hard for me, but Pete took some persuading,  since our kitchen is bulging at the seams.  This certainly is a bulky piece, but oh so very gorgeous.

The whole pot is made from terracotta and needs to be handled with a little care.  Ingredients go in cold, then the covered pot is placed in a cold oven and brought up to cooking temperature gradually.  If you move it  from hot to cold (or vice versa) too quickly, it will crack.  It’s not safe to go on the gas hob, but it’s fine in the microwave, although I’m not sure it will actually fit.

On the up side, it’s completely dishwasher safe, which makes it much easier to clean than the bulky Le Creuset pots we have.  It also produces tender, succulent meals, which are dead simple to prepare.  The pot and its lid are soaked before use, allowing the porous terracotta to absorb water, which it then uses to steam the meal as it bakes.  This enables you to cook with less oil – it also means that cooking times are a bit more flexible, and that things rarely burn in the pot.  The glazed interior should prevent the pot  from absorbing too many odours, although the manufacturers recommend that you buy a separate one for fish.

romertopf5

I’ve used the Römertopf a dozen times since it arrived in the mail.  It’s only been a month, but I’ve  become hooked on the ease of cooking it provides.  I can fill the pot up with raw ingredients, put it into the oven, then pull out a perfectly cooked meal two hours later.  And I’ve finally found a place to store it, after Pete objected to it living on the cereal shelf…

. . . . .

Römertopf Bakers – Revisited

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