Clay Baker Chicken & Sauerkraut
Ahhh, fall. It’s amazing how the cooler temperatures affect our palates as well as our clothing choices. I for one start wanting red wine with dinner instead of white or rose, and heartier meals that reflect the fall harvest appear more and more on my menus. My slow cooker will reappear from the pantry, as will my clay baker.
Cooking in clay makes for moist, delicate meats, slow roasted and full of flavor. One of my favorite dishes is sauerkraut roasted with chicken, pork or kielbasa. The briny saltiness of the kraut is mellowed by the tender flavors of the meat. (Unfortunately, heating fermented products usually kills the healthy microbes.)
Clay bakers come in several forms. Some have a glass glaze on the bottom, others are completely natural. You always want to soak unglazed parts of the baker before using (top and bottom for unglazed, just the top for glazed). This allows the clay to absorb a lot of water, which in turn steams your dish to perfection. Soak for 30 minutes in room temperature water. And ALWAYS put your dish into a cold oven – the clay can’t take extreme temperature changes and will crack. (Read the instructions thoroughly before using!)
6-8 Chicken Thighs, bone-in or boneless, remove skin
3-4 C Sauerkraut
3 cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
1 Large Onion, wedged
2-3 Potatoes, wedged (or the equivalent of baby potatoes)
4 Tbsp Butter, sliced in ¼” pats
Salt & Pepper
Soak the clay baker according to instructions.
Place the sauerkraut in the bottom of the baker.
Arrange the onion and potato wedges on top of the kraut.
Add chopped garlic.
Place thighs on top, in one layer if possible.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then put the butter evenly on top.
Cover and place in a cold oven.
Set the temperature to 425°F and bake for 60 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the chicken is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and place on a non-stone or metal, heat-resistant surface. (A folded kitchen towel or pot holder is ideal – avoid anything cold.)
Let sit for 10 minutes, and serve!