by Pat Antonopoulo
Gourmet, I am not, but 'adequate-plus works' just time. Sometimes, like when I make Greek Wedding Bread, the results are terrific. And the sticky buns really are delicious. Just ask Molly.
Salads, soups, chili, casseroles, breads and desserts get the plus side of my ledger. Meat? Not so much. Brisket and oven roasted meats are difficult to mess up, but I can fry a beautiful steak or a fine pork chop to crispy critters in the the time it takes to say "Turn off the smoke detector!"
A church sale had piles of clay pots called Romertopf. The 'pile' should have been my clue that recycle trumped frequent use. But, being a sucker, for a $2.00 price tag I hurried home with the pot, stopping to buy a plumb chicken, some celery and onions.
Thinking like Julia, I planned a nice rice dish, a salad and an huge apple pie to top off my Romertopf dinner. Staying with Julia's methods, I slathered on the butter after washing and stuffing that bird. Even at this point, the smell was terrific, though the fit of bird to pan was a bit tight.
Soaked pot (cold water for 15 minutes), cold oven, and 450 temp reached gradually. Two hours later, the chicken was golden though the pot had no juices. Ummm...odd, but maybe the meat is all tender and moist with that butter bath.
It was. Dinner an A+. After the dishes were dried and put away, it was time to make the brownies for tomorrow's event. Back to the oven controls, whipped up the batter while the oven came to temp...but it didn't. It came to fire---smoke and fire, actually, while those not-so-vanishing juices blackened the oven floor.
Forty-five minutes later, I had enough of the mess cleaned to turn on the self-clean cycle and finish the job. Rubber gloves blackened and sticky, yucky bucket of water, kitchen smelling like burned bird and a batch of brownies waiting for a turn.
Meat? Not so much.