Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Amazingly tender chicken covered in garlic sauce. 
This recipe was another one from my new Gourmet cookbook--I'd been thinking about it for awhile. It was first published in Gourmet in 1967, and has been sort of a retro classic in the US ever since. I modified the recipe slightly to make it easier (no bouquet garni, no browning the whole chicken ahead of time).
I'd never cooked a chicken this way--essentially a slow semi-braise of the whole bird on the bone, then quickly broiled right at the end for crisp skin and color.

As the name implies--there are literally 40 cloves of garlic in this recipe (or more, I never count things). Two or three large handfuls of whole garlic cloves. Yet it doesn't taste remotely sharp or garlicky--it's very mellow, balanced, silky and rich. 
The chicken cooks very slowly in a covered pot--the garlic mellows and softens and sweetens and cooks gently in the chicken fat. You essentially make an on-the-bone chicken confit and loads of garlic confit all together at once. 
The chicken could be carved off the bone with a spoon--it's insanely tender, with crisp golden skin. You smother the chicken with the rich, lovely, garlic gravy. This was a perfect, satisfying Sunday night dinner. I made some bread and salad to go with the chicken--totally perfect. 
Not to mention--the ingredients for this added up to about eight dollars (chicken was on sale) plus seven for the wine ( Yellowtail is fine with me). 
Lovely end to the weekend. 
1 whole chicken
40 cloves of garlic (specifics are unimportant--a few handfuls of garlic cloves) 
2 springs of rosemary
1 lemon 
2 carrots
1 rib of celery
2 bay leaves 
1 cup white wine 
salt and pepper 

What to do 
Pat your chicken completely dry with paper towels. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
Place carrots, celery, one of the rosemary sprigs and 10 of the garlic cloves into the food processor and pulse into a coarse grind. 
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

This recipe calls for no chopping!
Then, place the chopped veggies into the bottom on your dutch oven or roasting pan. Add the bay leaves.
Stuff about ten garlic cloves into the chicken cavity. Cut a lemon in half--add the half lemon the the cavity, then truss the chicken (tie its legs together with kitchen twine). 
Full frontal chicken porn. 
Place the trussed chicken on the chopped veggies, and scatter the rest of the garlic cloves (leave them whole) and add the remaining rosemary sprig and half lemon. I also added the chicken neck to the pot for extra flavor.

Cover the pot and place into the 250 degree oven. Slowly bake, basting occasionally, for five hours. 
Carefully remove the chicken from the pot (it will be nearly falling apart) and place on a cookie sheet. Set aside.
Skim the fat off the liquid left in the pan. Use a potato masher to smash the garlic cloves. Add the cup of wine and reduce, whisking regularly, over high heat until the consistency of gravy. Taste for salt. 
Crank the heat up to 550. Put the chicken back into the over and roast until golden brown and crisp all over. 
Golden and falling off the bone. 
Pour the sauce over the whole chicken, and serve extra on the side. Carve the chicken, or just pull pieces straight off. 

This was delicious. I can't recommend it enough!

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