A while ago I mentioned that I’d scored a Römertopf clay baker from an op shop for the princely sum of $9. I gave it a go that same weekend, cooking a roast chicken that was just a little too big for it. As promised in the recipe, the chicken was moist and succulent because of the steam generated by soaking the top and base in water. But then again, my oven roasted chickens are always moist. The real beauty of a clay baker for me at least is that the oven remained splatter free. I Googled ‘romertopf recipes’ to see what else I could cook and saw lots of recipes for roast chicken and lots of discussions about how moist they were when cooked in the Romertopf. People obviously love their splatter free ovens but surely they cook other things in their clay bakers?
Where Have All The Recipes Gone? (Long Time Passing)
Apart from some great recipes on Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, the internet is unexpectedly mute on this subject. I suspect the reason for so few recipes on the internet is because most are written in exercise books and on scraps of paper in recipe boxes. Not surprising given the general demographic of Römertopf ownership is Baby Boomer. No doubt there are many Boomer Brides who still turn out delicious one pot meals from their Römertopfs but tastes and cooking technology has moved on. Casseroles have fallen out of fashion, now for the most part considered the fall back of busy mums. Still, I wanted to make a casserole style dish so I decided that as long as I followed the Römertopf rules, I couldn’t go far wrong. So, what are the rules?
The 3 Golden Römertopf Rules
- You MUST soak the top and base in room temperature water for at least 10 minutes. 20 minutes is even better.
- You MUST put the filled baker in a cold oven only. Never a hot oven, as it will crack!
- You MUST only rest the hot baker and cooked meal on a fabric pot rest/folded tea towel or wooden board. Never on a bench top, glass chopping board, ceramic cooktop or metal trivet, as it will crack!
I chose to create this recipe for Cider Braised Pork based solely on the fact I had a couple of apples knocking around and half a bottle of leftover cider. I know it’s unbelievable that I would have half a bottle of leftover anything in the fridge. It was due to the fact that the label had promised a dry Spanish cider but it was far too sweet for my tastes and very much far from dry. I used scotch fillet for this dish as it’s a very economical cut and suits a long cooking time. Whilst not as fatty as pork belly, there is enough fat to keep the dish meat moist (there’s that word again). If you do use pork belly, you will need to cut off the skin (gasp!) and as much fat as possible so really, why would you bother?
Cider Braised Pork
- 600g Pork scotch fillet (pork neck/collar butt)with any large chunks of fat removed
- 1 – 2 x large onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 – 3 small Granny Smith or Royal Gala apples, peeled and quartered
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into thumb sized chunks
- 500ml sparkling dry cider (alcoholic or soft)
- Salt and pepper to season
- Rosemary sprigs
- Cornflour to thicken sauce (optional)
- Soak top and base of the Romertopf. Whilst soaking, prepare vegetables.
- Remove baker from water and carefully place on the bench (I always sit it on a tea towel)
- Place chopped onions, apple, garlic and carrots in the base of the baker and season.
- Season pork well on both sides and sit pieces on top of vegetables. Tuck any extra vegetables and rosemary around the edge of the pork.
- Pour cider into base so that most (or all) of vegetables are covered. Most of this liquid will be gone by the time the meal is cooked.
- Place filled clay baker into cold oven and turn on to 200c
- Cook for 90 minutes and then turn off oven and allow to cook on retained heat for approximately 20 – 30 minutes.
- Remove Romertopf from oven and place on a folded tea towel or wooden chopping board. Remember not to put it straight onto the bench, metal trivet or ceramic cook top.
- The liquid in the dish should be greatly reduced but will not be thick. If you are making a gravy, drain off the juices (a turkey baster is the easiest) into a saucepan with a tablespoon of cornflour and warm gently so sauce thickens.
- The cooked pork is tender enough to be fork shredded (with or without the apple and onion) if you are looking for a pulled pork effect.
- You can also add potatoes to this dish. Simply peel and cut into medium chunks and add with vegetables.