City living rules out a number of cooking methods—even plain old grilling can be hard to pull off in an apartment building—but it puts the biggest kibosh on one of the most primal: spit-roasting.
And yet your favorite urban foodie still has a hankering for moist, low-and-slow meat with a crispy skin, right? So set him or her up with a Romertopf baker ($40-$90, depending on the size). This unusual two-piece unglazed clay vessel has a valuable specialty: Before you use it, you soak the top and bottom in water for 15 minutes. This impregnates the walls of the vessel with moisture, which is converted into steam for the first phase of cooking. Then, when the steam runs out, the Romertopf transforms—with no effort on your part—into a dry-cooking environment that will crisp up the skin of that lamb shoulder. (That’s my favorite thing to use it for—specifically, Moroccan mechoui—but it also does a great job on whole chickens.)
Bonus: For great recipes suited to the Romertopf and other clay vessels, consider Paula Wolfert’s brilliant Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking as a companion gift. This is one of the best five cookbooks I own, and has never, ever let me down.
Check out Shopping For Foodies, Part 1 [f8b8z]