It’s the twelfth day of Christmas and, as tradition and superstition insists, the festive decorations have been packed up and put away. The removal of the great, oversized Christmas tree, whose branches dripped with blessings and sparkle, revealed a half-forgotten pile of gifts hidden beneath. In the mad cacophony of Christmas day our ‘grown up’ presents were shoved under the tree for safe keeping, ready to be rediscovered in the new year.
One such gift was a terracotta chicken brick. I have never come across one of these before and was intrigued. A chicken brick is a large, terracotta pot comprising of a base and a lid. Oblong in shape it fits a good sized chicken perfectly. The porous pot is soaked in water prior to cooking and, as the oven temperature rises, the moisture is released, gently steaming the meat. The result is a moist, plump bird cooked in it’s own juices without the need for basting.
Cooking a chick in a brick takes a little longer than roasting on a tray as the pot is put into a cold oven (to prevent cracking) not a pre heated one. Given that you will have extra time to kill, you could use it productively and venture off to the allotment to pick some veg, or, pour yourself a well earned gin and tonic.
Pot roast chicken and vegetables in cider/ wine
This is one of my favourite recipes. Place the chicken in the brick and add a selection of seasonal vegetables including onions or shallots, garlic and carrots. Add a couple of bay leaves and thyme. Pour over 300 mls of still cider or white wine then season with salt and pepper and put the lid on. Switch the oven on to 180C/gas mark 5 and pop the whole lot in (remember to put it in the oven immediately, no pre heating!). Cooking takes around 2 to 2.5 hours, to check the meat is cooked pierce the breast and the juices should run clear.
Serve the chicken and veg with roast potatoes or crusty bread and a little bit of stuffing. I chose Gordon Rhodes Jolly Fine stuffing mix, a blend of sage, garden herbs and red onion, delicious. The remaining juices can be made into a delicious gravy or reserved and turned into stock ready for another tasty dish.
My chicken brick came in a set with two packets of Gordon Rhodes stuffing mix. Check out the website http://www.gordonrhodes.co.uk it is such a fun site with very entertaining names for the the stuffings and spices. Chicken bricks are available from http://www.wmpot.co.uk
P.S I have had a bit of a name change, hope you like the new blog title.