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Clay Pot Cooking: Chicken with crimini, tarragon and basil sauce

Simple meal of chicken baked with crimini mushrooms, basil and taragon served simply with petit peas and slices of tangerine.
Simple meal of chicken baked with crimini mushrooms, basil and taragon served simply with petit peas and slices of tangerine.

Clay pot cooking has had intermittent attentions since the middle 2000's, though many cultures swear by it for it's effectiveness and efficiency.

Smitten with a pot, this Downtown Oklahoma City author saved her allowance in high school to buy an original Oklahoma Visual Artist Bob Hanlin ( ) clay pot casserole, which has now survived almost 35 years and many dinners.

Clay pots are typically glazed pots fired at a very high heat, and are to some degree tempered to withstand changes in temperature and kitchen processes. The issue to check is always to confirm that the pot glaze and clay prep are absent any lead or lead based products.

The process of IMU is fun, but typically reserved for large occasion BBQ or camping.

And it is possible to cook food INSIDE fresh clay., an adventure for another Downtown Oklahoma City Cooking Examiner day.

But the recipe for today is simpler fare.

Dinner for 2 or 3 adults.

Claypot Tarragon Chicken

2 boneless, skinless breasts all fat and debris removed. Wash and pat dry, cube or slice as desired.

In an iron skillet, cover the bottom slightly with olive oil and or butter. Ok to add onion slices or garlic to this process . This writer added nothing else.

Saute the chicken, with nominal turning so that it is browned.

Lightly salt and white pepper the meat just before finishing.

Remove to a papertowel and drain.

In the pan, add either a 1/2 c flour sifted, and gradually add milk about 1.0 cup. OR make a slurry of the milk and flour and add to low heat in the same pan. Add 1/2 c white dry wine. Reisling is ok for this recipe. Stir readily or this will lump/burn and be useless. This needs to cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, enough to thicken the sauce.

Wine is not essential to this dish, and the photos here have none. Wine just adds another layer to the play between these particular spices. This dish hits a memorable note either way. (Typically, this writer never, ever uses soy milk in recipes for a sauce, as it has a flat taste that ruins the dish.)

Cook until warmed, and scrape the pan of all brown bits at the bottom.

Oil the clay pot with olive oil or butter, lightly.

Pour 1/2 the sauce above into the pot, and layer in 1/2 c white rice, 1/2c black rice or wild rice, top with chicken and add 1.5 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth and the remaining sauce.

Atop the sauce, sprinkle

1.5 Tbsp rubbed tarragon leaves ( this tastes a little like tea)

1 Tbsp Basil leaves. ( this has a bright flavor, with a low, almost oily lingering aftertaste)

1 c sliced fresh crimini mushrooms or mushrooms of your choice. Crimini are small, brown and fat and hold shape well, but they also have a high nutritional value. Portabello slices would be similar and more dramatic in the dish and the chicken can be sliced or bought as tenders to match shapes for a certain visual appeal. Super Cao Nguyen has a great collection of fresh mushrooms year round, as does the Buy For Less, both of which offer affordable unique vegetable selections.

This writer constructed this dish in the AM before going to work, and so it sat "marinating" in the fridge for about 8 hours. Clay pot is oven safe, and was placed in the cold oven, with temp on to 350. In less than 1 hour, the dish was ready, AEB boiling liquid.

This winter dish full of sophisticated comforting taste, served here on a salad sized plate with petit peas and segments of fresh tangerine.

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