June 17, 2014

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I'm back at home, and all I want after over two weeks of eating ungodly amounts of food at restaurants for every meal is a nice homemade dinner. This recipe might not be the healthiest, but it is certainly better than going out. It's hearty and delicious, which makes up for the extra bit of effort required.

Hopefully you aren't in shock from the name of the dish. 40 cloves of garlic does sound like a lot. Honestly, you probably don't want to make this for a first date (even though your special someone will definitely be impressed with your cooking skills). However, the garlic is roasted, which significantly reduces its pungency. The garlic basically caramelizes, making it sweeter and much less sharp. I throw in some shallots, too, for a bit of oniony flavor. Once they are tender and fragrant, I press them through a strainer or food mill to puree them, which gives the sauce a smooth, velvety texture.

As I said earlier, this dish isn't one of my easier ones. You probably won't want to make it after a long day at work or on a busy weeknight. You have to roast the garlic, brine the chicken (whatever parts you want; I strongly recommend anything bone-in and skin-on, especially thighs), sear the chicken, make the sauce, and bake everything together. It takes at least 90 minutes to make, but it's definitely worth it. It's not all active time; brining chicken and roasting garlic doesn't require much hands-on work, but you will also be busy searing the chicken and making the sauce  at the same time.

Personally, I think the sauce is the star of the dish. It makes what would otherwise be plain roasted chicken extremely special, and also I love dunking bread in it or drizzling it over mashed potatoes, my favorite side to serve with the chicken (though roasted potatoes and vegetables would be amazing as well).

It's a pan sauce, so it starts by deglazing the pot you seared the chicken in. That sounds pretty complicated, but really you just add a liquid to the pot to loosen the caramelized brown bits. I use chicken broth, butter, and white wine. Once, I only had red wine and had to use that instead, and it tasted fine but resulted in an oddly purple sauce. If you're into that, go ahead and use whatever wine you have and it will still taste delicious. However, if you want to retain the classic look of the dish, use a good white wine. Sorry to go all Ina Garten on you, but you really should only cook with wine you would drink. If you're going to put all this time and effort into a dish, you want it to taste good, and bad wine won't help. Anyway, after you add the liquids, stir in some fresh herbs and the mashed/pureed garlic-shallot mixture. I've done the dish with dried herbs instead of fresh; it still tastes delicious, but it's worth getting fresh herbs if you can.

Once the sauce is done, stick the chicken back in and roast it all together in the oven. Finishing the chicken in the sauce in the oven keeps it moist and cooks it through without burning the outside. And when it's finally done roasting, the aroma is simply spectacular. The chicken is incredibly moist and juicy, and the sauce is divine. It's full of flavor and is sure to impress anyone you have over for dinner. This is my go-to dish for fancier occasions, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do!

3.5-4 lbs Bone-In Chicken Pieces
¼ Cup Salt
½ Cup Flour
3 Heads Garlic
2 Shallots
1 T Olive Oil
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
¾ Cup Dry White Wine
¾ Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 T Butter

Heat oven to 400F.

Separate the cloves of garlic, leaving the skin on. Peel and quarter the shallots. Toss the garlic and shallots with 2 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread around a pie plate. Cover with foil and roast until soft and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking occasionally. Uncover, stir, and roast until browned and tender, another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and increase to 450F.

Dissolve the salt in 2 quarts cold water. Add the chicken and chill for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Dredge in the flour and season with salt and pepper.

Press the garlic and shallots through a strainer.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the chicken until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Flip, repeat, and remove the chicken from the pan.

Pour the wine, chicken broth, butter, and herbs into the skillet. Set over medium heat and add the garlic-shallot mixture. Return the chicken to the pan and roast in the oven until cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Serves 6
Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

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