Sunday, July 11, 2004

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

I stole this recipe from Cook's Illustrated.


  • a whole chicken, 3.5 to 4 pounds
  • 3 to 4 heads of garlic
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 3/4 cup vermouth
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt
  • pepper
  • sprig of rosemary
  • sprig of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
    1. Preheat oven to 400. Rinse chicken, discard innards. Using an awesome chef's knife or poultry shears, cut chicken into 8 pieces. Do this by removing the thighs and legs from the body first. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs by cutting through the soft cartilage connecting them. Remove the wings and discard (or save them for stock). Cut down one side of the backbone, then cut down the other side; discard backbone (or save it). Trim ribs. Cut straight down through center of breastbone, creating two breasts. Then, split each breast in half, giving a little more meat to the tapered side of the breast. You should have 8 pieces total--2 legs, 2 thighs, and four breast pieces. Now, dissolve the salt in two quarts of cold tap water in a covered bucket or container, stirring for one or two minutes to make sure crystals are fully absorbed. Submerge chicken pieces in brine, cover, and refrigerate until ready for Step 3.

    2. After dealing with the chicken, get out your garlic heads. Strip away all the excess papery skin. Separate each clove, but do not peel them--leave their skin on for protection. Throw away excessively small or large cloves. You should have about 40 medium sized cloves. Peel the shallots and cut them into quarters. In a small pie pan or baking dish, toss garlic and shallot with some olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and put in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. (Shake the contents of pan after 15 minutes).

    3. Before garlic has roasted for 30 minutes, remove chicken from brine. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry completely with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken with pepper. As soon as garlic has roasted for 30 minutes, remove aluminum foil covering from pan and put garlic back in the oven for another ten minutes (by that time you should be done with this step). Now, over medium-high heat, heat some olive oil in a 12-inch heavy bottomed ovenproof skillet (not nonstick) for a minute or two until it is shimmering. Saute chicken pieces, skin side down first, for about 5 minutes on each side so that they are nicely browned. Off heat.

    4. Remove chicken from skillet to a plate. Pour off fat from skillet. Take garlic out of the oven, set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450. Deglaze skillet with vermouth and chicken broth, scraping bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release carmelized bits and boiling over high heat for a minute or so. Off heat. Add garlic and shallots to the skillet, as well as the rosemary and thyme. Arrange chicken pieces skin-side up so they are resting on the garlic cloves but are also in contact with the liquid. Put skillet in the oven, and roast for 10-12 minutes. If chicken is not already overdone and crispy after that, switch oven to broiler mode and broil the chicken for 3 to 5 more minutes, or until the skin is nice and crispy.

    5. Remove skillet from oven using a potholder (handle will be really hot). Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove chicken, garlic, shallots and herbs (that's everything) from the skillet to a plate, set aside. Set skillet over medium-high burner to reduce liquid. Now, take about 12 garlic cloves and put them in a mesh strainer, above the skillet. Use a spatula to mash the garlic cloves against the strainer, forcing the viscous roast cloves through the strainer and into the skillet (use a fork to scrape the underside of the strainer). Whisk the garlic into the sauce while it is reducing, tasting for flavor. This should take you about 5 - 10 minutes, and by that time the sauce should be sufficiently reduced. Taste for flavoring, adding pepper if necessary. Off heat, and whisk in 2 tablespoons cold butter to thicken.

    Serve chicken with sauce ladled over it, along with a crusty baguette for spreading cloves and mopping extra sauce up.


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