No clay pot? No problem, the recipe works in a regular oven, so stick around. We loved the flavors so much I’ve used this marinade in whole chicken, and also Cornish hens. The unusual twist is the incorporation of ground almonds in the mix. If you are intrigued, I totally understand because I was also. It adds a little texture and more “staying power” on the meat. I hope you’ll try it, I think it might become a favorite in your home.

(adapted from Made in India)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, with skin
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put the cumin seeds and coriander seeds into a dry non-stick frying pan over high heat until they get fragrant, don’t let them burn. Put the toasted seeds into a spice grinder, along with the cloves and peppercorns, and grind together. Put them into a big bowl and add the ground almonds, cinnamon, turmeric, yogurt, and salt. Rub this marinade all over the chicken thighs, making sure to stick some underneath the skin. Cover and let marinating int the fridge for 1 to 12 hours, the longer the better.

If cooking in a regular oven, heat it to 400F, place the chicken thighs in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes, remove the foil and roast until the skin is golden brosn.

If using the clay pot, soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Drain the water, place the chicken pieces inside, close the lid and place the pot in a cold oven, turn it to 450F. Cook for 1 hour, remove the lid and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is nicely brown.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can use almonds that you grind yourself, but I opted for almond meal, as I always have it around due to my macaron-baking addiction. It gives a subtle nutty flavor the the meat, and definitely allows the marinade to speak louder in the final dish. Originally I saw this marinade used in a whole chicken. The recipe called for cutting some slits on the skin over the breast to rub the marinade underneath. However, during roasting the skin teared apart too much and although it was still delicious, I did not care for the way it looked. So I will stick to using it for chicken thighs. Full disclosure: I already made it three times…

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No clay pot? No problem, I will tell you how to make the exact same recipe without it. What I love about the clay pot is how user-friendly it is. A little longer cooking never hurts, no risk of drying the meat or making it tough. Cornish Hens are perfect for a romantic meal, they bring a touch of elegance and cuteness at the same time. Often they are stuffed with wild rice, but I wanted to see if the humble white rice would work. I am here to tell you, it does! Aren’t you thrilled?

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 cornish hens
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used fennel instead)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
]flat-leaf parsley, chopped (amount to taste)
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper

for glaze:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
splash of lemon juice

Make the stuffing: Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add onions (or fennel) and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add pecans, sage, and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Cook until pecans are fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in cooked rice, cranberries, and parsley. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Set aside.

Make the glaze: mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

If using the clay pot, soak it for a couple of hours. If roasting in a regular pan, heat the oven to 425F. Remove hens from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to roasting. Rinse hens, and pat dry with a paper towel. Lightly season the cavities of the hens with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/2 cup of stuffing into each cavity. Tie the legs closed with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the birds. If using the clay pot, improvise a little “rack” using aluminum foil so that they don’t sit directly on the pot. Place the hens in the clay pot and place in a cold oven. Turn it to 450F. Roast for 1 hour, then open the clay pot and roast for 15 minutes longer, brushing with the glaze a couple of times.

If roasting in a regular pan, brush the skin with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes at 425F, then reduce the temperature to 375F and roast for about 50 minutes longer, brushing with the glaze a few times during roasting (if possible, check temperature at thigh, it should read 180F).

Let the hens rest for 15 minutes, then cut the kitchen twine and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I pretty much gave up trying to make nice pictures of roast chicken and its relatives. So I hope you can surf beyond the photos and trust that it was truly very good. I used bland, nothing-to-it leftover white rice for the stuffing and it got totally transformed during roasting. The juices of the hen gave it a very deep flavor, and the pecans, cranberries and sage closed the deal beautifully. As the husband said, “this must go into our rotation.” Agreed. 100%.

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This gem of a recipe was made by my beloved husband. I know what you’re thinking: if only all women could be so lucky, right? Since he was in charge of the meal I did not take pictures of the whole process, but it turned out so good, I have to share. Duck is a tricky bird to cook. Legs and breast cook at different rates, so roasting can pose problems. The combination of smoker and clay pot did a magical job, but if you don’t have a smoker, the clay pot alone will work beautifully (check out this post from 10 years ago – !!! – by my friend Celia).

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 whole duck
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
fingerling potatoes
hickory wood pellets (for smoker, optional)

Soak your clay pot in water, reserve.

Season the duck inside and outside with salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence. Place in a smoker at 250F for 30 minutes. This will give it a very light smoky flavor.

Place the duck in the cold clay pot, add the potatoes all around it, season them lightly with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. No need to add any oil. Close the clay pot and place in a cold oven. Turn it to 425F. Roast for 2 hours. After one hour, open the clay pot and carefully remove some of the accumulated fat with a baster. Close the pot again and continue roasting.

At the end of 2 hours, open the lid and reduce the temperature to 375F. Roast for 30 minutes longer, or until the skin gets as crispy as you like it.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one outstanding meal. Phil made a little duck stock with the neck and gizzards of the bird and used that to make a simple gravy, but I tell you, it was excellent straight from the oven, nothing else needed. The potatoes put up a beautiful fight with the duck for the spotlight, because they got infused with duck fat and absolutely perfect. The most amazing thing is that the duck itself did not turn out fatty or overly greasy. As I said, if you don’t have a smoker, just go straight for the clay pot.

In the very near future, I will adapt this method to make a Chinese-style roast duck. I actually tried a very convoluted recipe a couple of months ago and it was an epic disaster. It involved spatchcocking, sous-vide for 20 hours, fridge-drying overnight, roasting, and a side of grievance. It did not bring me joy. But now, enlightened by the man I married, I am ready to re-visit the issue. Stay tuned.

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In my las post – In My Kitchen – I mentioned that we got a large clay pot. I put it to use right away, making the most classic item in clay cooking: a whole chicken. It is truly a non-recipe, essentially no work, no special ingredients. Salt and pepper. I added lemon slices just because. The clay pot gets soaked in water for half an hour, drained, and placed with the chicken inside (obviously) in a cold oven. As the oven heats up, the water retained by the porous surface of the pot turns into steam – a lot of steam – contained in the pot. With time moisture is reduced and the pot turns into a real roaster.  You simply cannot beat the texture achieved by this type of cooking, and if you are into crispy skin, no problem, open the lid and let it roast for 10 to 15 more minutes.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 chicken, about 4 pounds
fingerling potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Soak the clay pot in cold water for 30 minutes.

Pat dry chicken, season liberally with salt and pepper all over, and place lemon slices in the cavity. No need to truss it, but you can do it if you’d like.

Place fingerling potatoes, left whole if small, cut in half lengthwise if big, on the bottom of the clay pot. Add carrots. Use enough veggies to fully cover the bottom of the pot.  Place the chicken on top. Close the lid, and place in a cold oven.

Set the oven to 430 F, and cook the chicken for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Open the lid and let it roast for additional 10 to 15 minutes, if you like a more crispy skin.

You can make a simple gravy with all the juices accumulated in the clay pot, or simply drizzle it over the meat.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: It’s so nice to go back to simplicity in cooking. Yes, there’s something to be said about involved sauces and marinades, braises that take every single spice you own, measuring 1/8 of a teaspoon of this, a pinch of that, to the point that you wonder… could I really tell a difference if I left a few of the spices out?  In this preparation, all you need is salt and pepper. You can gild the lily if you prefer, grab that smoked paprika, the fennel, the Herbes de Provence. But consider making it once like this. You’ll be surprised by how flavorful a simple roast chicken can be.

The root veggies will cook and get soaked by the juices, and for that reason I think the lemon is a simple addition that brightens up the flavor.  This was our non-traditional Easter dinner, by the way.  We did not feel like having lamb, a light snow was falling outside, roast chicken was a perfect choice that evening.

Added bonus?  The glazed interior makes cleaning a breeze!

Stay tuned for more adventures in clay pot cooking… I’ve got quite a few things on my list to try soon, including a nice loaf of sourdough bread. If you have a favorite recipe to use the clay pot, please let me know in the comments, will you?

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