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Is a Clay Cooker Better?

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2008

Can a clay cooker outperform a Dutch oven?

Clay pot roasters have garnered fame for coaxing remarkable flavor from few ingredients and minimal work: You simply soak the cooker in water for 15 minutes, add the raw ingredients, and place the covered pot in a cold oven. You then crank the heat up to at least 400 degrees. Theoretically, the steam released from the water-soaked clay and the gradual temperature increase should yield tender, juicy meat.

Can a clay cooker outperform a Dutch oven? To find out, we compared two batches of our French Chicken in a Pot, one cooked in a Dutch oven and the other adapted for a clay roaster. We preferred the Dutch oven method. Though both chickens cooked up equally moist and fall-apart tender, clay cookers are not stovetop-safe, so we needed to brown the chicken in a skillet before transferring it to the clay pot. We'll stick with the Dutch oven.

Only In a Hot Oven

Clay cookers aren't stovetop-safe, so you'll need to brown chicken separately.