Department of Test Products: Romertopf Vertical Chicken Roaster

Looks weird, works great

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By David Hammond

Every now and again, manufacturers and their representatives send me products to try out and see if we like them. What I like most about this practice is that I sometimes get fairly imaginative kitchen items before they hit the stores.

For probably 20 years or more, we've been using Romertopf clay pots to make chicken. It's simple: you soak the halves of the clay pot in water; drain water and put in chicken and vegetables, then put the closed pot in a cold oven and heat to about 350 for 90 minutes, two hours, or more…up to a point, it doesn't really matter. This is a very forgiving way of cooking: the meat stays moist because it's enclosed, and it probably won't burn (unless you keep it in the oven a really long time).

So we were was less than enthusiastic when Romertopf sent us another chicken cooker. However, this one turned out to be a ceramic pillar mounted in a ceramic tray. One look at it, though, and Carolyn said, "Hey, that would cook from the inside out. Let's try it."

We tried it and, lo, it worked just beautifully.  The chicken came out moist and with a crispy skin that you almost never get with a regular clay pot. We accidentally kept it in the oven a little too long, but it was still way moist and delicious.

So, are we tossing the Romertopf clay pot? Absolutely not. A key advantage to that kind of enclosed moist cooker is that you can load all kinds of vegetables in there with the chicken.

Although the instructions say you can also put potatoes, carrots, etc., in the base of this vertical chicken roaster, there's not much room there for anything. You could put some in there, but not much, and we usually prefer a lot with dinner.

Both clay pot and vertical roaster have their place in our kitchen, and I can see value in making a whole pot of chicken and veggies as well as just one perfectly done chicken that can be served with a salad.

Conclusion: cool tool.



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