bizcuse me, you don’t know my chicken with forty cloves of garlic
[Title brought to you in part by some random thing someone said in college that became a favorite saying of my circle of college friends].
I’ve been lusting after this recipe – in its various forms – for years now. Ever since I shuffled off the restricting coil of vegetarianism (sorry, Em . . . stay strong!) and my mother gave me a copy of Cooks Illustrated’s Best Chicken Recipes cookbook. I pored over it voraciously, like a hungry pilgrim discovering a new land who’s desperate to learn the local customs and what the heck that stuff is on everyone’s plates. While all the recipes in this cookbook are amazing, the Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic spoke to me the loudest (meaning it made my tummy rumble the loudest). Unable to tackle an intimidating task like butchering a chicken so soon after leaving a world of tofu & Boca burgers behind, I bookmarked the recipe and let it sit on my shelf, uncooked, for years. And then. . . .
And then I was pressing the “Surprise Me” link on Smitten Kitchen and saw that Deb had posted a similar recipe. So I bought a gajillion heads of garlic and said “This time it’s really happening.” Since Emily is a vegetarian, I saved this cooking adventure for a weekend when my boyfriend (the beloved carnivore) was in town.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the differences between the two recipes, and by the time I pulled up the Cook’s Illustrated one, I realized that it had slightly different ingredients, so ultimately I decided to blend the two recipes and call it a day.
So, first, I peeled a ton of garlic, with the help of my beloved carnivore.
Whoa, dudes, that’s a lot of garlic – and don’t believe any recipe that tells you you’ll get 40 cloves from 1 and 3/4 heads of garlic. I don’t know what kind of crazy garlic those people have found, but I had to use almost 3 heads.
After peeling the garlic, there was the whole issue of butchering a chicken. I’ve roasted and boiled plenty of chickens – usually the latter and usually for jambalaya. I’ve gotten the meat off somehow, but only after it was cooked, and usually without needing to cut off any bones. Suddenly, I was faced with a challenge to my now years-old rediscovery of omnivorous cooking. That challenge was 4.61 pounds and slightly bloody.
So I did what any book-smart, street/kitchen-dumb girl would do, and I watched a wikiHow video.
There were some missteps along the way (see photographic evidence to the left), but after I made the gash in the chicken say funny things, I went ahead and pushed the chicken together, kept carving, and found myself the proud queen reigning over a kingdom of 8 quasi-properly-carved chicken pieces.
Now, after you cut up the chicken, this recipe is super simple. Almost fool-proof, truly. And it tasted absolutely delicious.
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
1 4-5 lb chicken, cut lovingly into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper
Thyme and rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 bay leaf
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
40 garlic cloves
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
After butchering the chicken, season each piece liberally with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch Oven or similar pot, with the burner on medium-high heat. Once the oil and butter are hot and liquidy, put each piece of chicken in the pot, skin-side down. Brown for about 5 minutes, then flip over and brown the other side for another five minutes (you may have to work in batches or have a second, smaller pot going at the same time).
Turn the heat down to medium, and put all the garlic cloves in the pot, making sure they form one, single-clove layer at the bottom (many of them will be buried underneath the chicken pieces. This is good). Cover the pot now (as opposed to later), as per boyfriend’s suggestion, for which he gets much credit because it ensured that the chicken remained tender and juicy, and that the garlic infused properly. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring the bottom of the pan regularly to ensure that the garlic browns evenly.
Pour in wine and stock, add the bay leaf, recover, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Serve with pan juice & garlic over whatever you want. As pictured above, I served it over a bed of rice and bourbon-creamed corn, a delicious combination.