In my last blog post, I promised to continue with some food options for the cold, winter months. This is the time when most of us crave comfort food. Naturally, we want to store more body fat and prepare for times when food is scarce. The only issue is that food is not that scarce anymore but our lifestyle did dramatically change compared to our ancestor’s and our bodies haven’t yet adapted to an often quite sedentary lifestyle.
The good news is that there are plenty of foods we can eat at this time of the year to feel warm and nourished afterwards.
Today I will write about one of my favourite dishes, which made my boyfriend think I can actually cook. Now we are married so he lives with the consequences.
I'm almost certain you have a clay pot somewhere in your kitchen cupboard and every now and then you look at it and think: 'but how on earth am I supposed to use this?!', and then put it back at the back of the bottom shelf. If you don’t have anything vaguely resembling like a clay pot then don’t waste your time, go and buy one quickly! Our ancestors already knew clay pots, it was one of their main cooking implements. Archaeologists found early Neolithic pottery all over the world from Japan to South America. In countries such as Germany or Hungary, it is actually named after Romans, referring to the time when many European countries were part of the Roman Empire. It is still as relevant and easy to use as it was hundreds and thousands of years ago.
About the usage:
Prior to using it, you need to soak it in water for at an hour (every time, not just when you first use it!). If you know you want to cook in it in the evening, you can just soak it for the whole day, it’s not going to do any harm. This will create some steam around the food when you cook making the food incredibly moist. Because you leave the lid on the pot while your food is cooking, you won’t lose the nutrients from your vegetables. And this is partially why you are cooking with the clay pot, right?
What can I put in the pot?
Any sort of meat on bones. I personally prefer poultry, like duck or chicken but trotters are also popular. Basically, anything you put in there will become incredibly tender and tasty so feel free to experiment.
Root vegetables. Leafy vegetables are just not substantial enough and won’t have the same taste as you can get from root vegetables. At this time of the year, I like to put some beetroots, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, sweet potato and Jerusalem artichokes in the pot. Most of them I won’t even peel (with the exception of sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes) but thoroughly wash, chop the rooty ends off and then I cut all the veggies to about the same size. This way, they cook at the same rate and by not peeling them you not only save some time (which is an absolute plus in my opinion) but you won’t lose fibre, vitamins and other nutrients packed in the skin.
Herbs for flavouring. Use anything like rosemary, thyme, sage or bay leaves. You can even mix them up a bit for a more complex taste.
And voilà, once everything is stacked up in the pot, put it in the cold oven and turn the heat up to 160-170 °C. Now you can take a seat and the next time you will need to do something is in 1.5 hours, when you should turn the oven off and then eat what you cooked. It’s a perfect way to surprise friends or family when they believe you don’t even know how to cook an egg. You're welcome!
(I just read that you can also bake bread or desserts in the clay pot, once I have tried it I will make sure to share my results with you.)
Until then, stay warm and try out the clay pot!