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My First Guvec

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 July 2016 at 06:23
In my thread on Ottoman cuisine I made reference to guvecs. As with so many other Mediterranean cooking terms, “guvec” refers to both a kind of dish, and the vessel in which it’s prepared. Tajines are the most familiar of these, but there are many others.

Thanks to a lead from Paula Wolfert I was able to track down a company that imports the pots directly from Turkey and ordered one. For starters, it’s stone-cold gorgeous.

Instead of the typical orange color, as you’d see on terra-cotta garden pots, this one looks as though it had been through a fire. The orange is toned down, more towards the brownish side, and there are random blackish patches, as if the flames of a gas kiln had actually contacted the clay body. The inside is a uniform black.

Roughly three quart capacity, the pot has a slight bulge in the middle, with the base and mouth about the same diameter. A flat ring, turned towards the outside, provides a rest for the lid. I kind of like that design, because it means that contents (and water when washing up) do not hang up on an inward-turned edge. Unfortunately, the lid---essentially a flat disk of clay with a knob handle---did not receive this treatment, and has the same color as a garden part. A bit of a discordant note, but I can live with it.

Unlike my cazuellas, which are partially glazed, the entire guvec is unglazed. This means it can be used either in the oven, or directly over heat on the range, without the need for a flame-tamer.

Although the guvec arrived about a month ago, work and life pressures didn’t give me a chance to use it until a couple of days ago. Result: I think I’m in love. This as near a perfect clay pot as I ever expect to own.

For my first use I actually choose a North African dish, rather than Turkish. It’s one I’ve been wanting to make for some time, and Valencia oranges, which are rarely available here, were suddenly being sold. And, I figured, how can you go wrong with chicken. So I made:

Djaje Belimoune
(Moroccan Chicken with Orange & Saffron)


Six chicken pieces (I used breasts, first removing the belly mean and the tapered “tails”, reserving them for another use.
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
4-5 pinches saffron
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tbls olive oil
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice

Orange mixture:

2 large, unwaxed oranges
Juice of one orange (warmed if cooking in clay)
1 cinnamon stick, roughly broken
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ tbls superfine sugar
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

If using clay, slowly heat the pot, over very low heat, gradually increasing the heat until reaching the cooking temperature. Pour the oils, spices, and salt in the pot, then add the chicken. Cook for ten minutes, turning occasionally. Add most of the orange juice (I used ¾ cup), cover the pan, and simmer for about 20 minutes, turning the chicken pieces halfway through. Add remaining juice, reduce heat, and simmer gently another 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare the orange mixture. Cut the oranges into segments, removing pith and seeds, but keeping the skin on. Essentially, this is like cutting supremes, but with the skin left in place. It’s the only difficult part of this dish, and requires a very sharp knife. Put them in a saucepan with the juice, a few spoonsful of water, the two cinnamons, and the sugar. Reduce over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until no juice is left and the mixture has caramelized.

Lay the chicken pieces on a wide serving dish. Pour the sauce from the pan over the chicken, then spoon the orange mixture on top. Garnish with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds if desired.

The chicken, served over cous-cous, was delicious. And clean-up was a snap; warm water (no soap!!!) and a brush was all it took.

While shopping today I was able to score a complete lamb shoulder and neck at the Halel store. So my next guvec project will be an actual Ottoman dish. I’ve decided on Sultan’s Delight.

I’ll keep y’all in the loop.

Meanwhile, I've saving my pennies to buy a second guvec, one that's a bit smaller.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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gonefishin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2016 at 08:06
    Wow, the recipe sounds great!

   I had to search what the Guvec exactly looked like.  It sounds like a really nice cooking vessel.  For my preferences, I really like having the flexibility of cooking stove top then moving to the oven.

  enjoy!
Enjoy The Food!
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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 July 2016 at 19:11
Ironically, Dan, several searches for guvecs, when I was writing the Ottoman stuff, were fruitless. Then, on that lead from Paula Wolfort, I was able to track this one down, http://www.tulumba.com/storeitem.asp?ic=HO248714HD247.

Go figure!

Mine has a slightly different look. As noted, mine has an outward turned lid rest, whereas the picture shows a recessed one. And the pix is all terra cotta, where mine has that antiqued look.

There are several different configurations and sizes in some of the books I used for research. Some are rather ornate, but the bulk of them are plain-Jane. The same sort of thing we find with tajines.

All in all, I'm happy with it.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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