In a nutshell: Welcome back to the wonderful world of simple and healthy terracotta cooking with our large size Chicken Brick or 'Four Cretois' as it is known in French. Wedding lists will never be the same again!
The Chicken Brick is back in fashion and ours is seriously covetable and chic! Way back in the 'Swinging Sixties' every home had one after Sir Terence Conran started selling them at Habitat and most newly-weds seemed to get one as a wedding gift! Nowadays, this ancient form of terracotta cooking seems to have been forgotten in this age of the microwave and Deliveroo. I found my mother's old one the other day but sadly it was cracked after too many home moves. So, I decided to find an even better one to fire my terracotta-cooking odyssey back up again. My luck was in when visiting our vinegar pot maker in France and I saw them being made by one of their craftsmen. This traditional unglazed terracotta dish, called a "Four Crétois” ('Cretan Oven') in French, is one of the oldest forms of cooking and was widely used by the ancient Greeks. Modern Greeks too it seems; traditionally shepherds in Epirus and Crete who buried similar terracotta pots in the embers of their fire to roast until their slow-cooked meat was falling off the bone. That popular dish, lamb kleftiko, takes its name from the Klefts (Greek bandits) who stole sheep or goats and cooked them in the sealed pots buried in charcoal pits to avoid the smoke being seen.
Today it's perfect for cooking a Sunday roast, such as chicken, lamb, veal or beef with potatoes and vegetables in their own juices, and no burying required! The domed lid lets air circulate while keeping the heat and steam in, preserving all the flavour and juices and the terracotta dish has incredible heat retention. An extremely healthy way of cooking without butter or oil but still with plenty of flavour. Simply add your chicken and veg then relax!
It's also an easy way of cooking if you follow a few rules:
1) Always cover the terracotta dish in cold water and soak for 15 minutes before use.
2) Place all your ingredients inside the dish without any liquid, season with herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and always place in a cold oven.
3) Roast at 220°C, adding an extra 20 minutes to your usual recipe cooking times.
4) Use oven gloves and be careful of the weight and heat of the terracotta dish when lifting out and vigilant of the steam that escapes when you remove the lid.
5) Never place on a cold or wet surface after cooking, always place on a wooden board or cloth.
5) Do not use detergent or scourers when cleaning as it will penetrate the porous terracotta simply allow to cool then clean with a brush in warm water. After drying, simply invert the lid and nestle on top of the base before storing safely.
Details 3.5 litre capacity
We have sourced our impressive stoneware products from one of France's oldest surviving ceramic manufacturers in Burgundy. Founded in 1875, they still make the mustard pots for Maille and other familiar kitchen items, such as yoghurt pots, water jugs and terrine bowls. Using clay sourced in the Loire valley, Auvergne and Burgundy, the products are handmade by artisans. Fired at a very high temperature (1250°C) then fixed with some unique glazes which makes them non-porous, perfect for storing liquids and for cooking.