Monday, January 14, 2008

Ina Garten's Free Range Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

We got a free range chicken at the Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago, mainly at urging of my super health conscious partner. The bird looked a bit scrawny at just three pounds, but I guess I need to purge myself of the image of the Perdue oven stuffer roaster. Anyway with my cabinet full of wine, I knew I could find some chicken recipe worthy of this bird and I settled on Ina Garten's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. I love this episode of her show. It's a typical episode where Ina and her gay entourage are hanging out and then decide to make a meal to go with watching a French movie later in the week. Ina decides to make a main course that sounds like it could ward off all the vampires in Transylvania. But recall that in your vampire lore it's raw garlic that's used to ward off the undead. Cooked garlic, especially whole cloves, takes on a toasted richness that is worlds away from its raw component and is delicious. As I was only using one chicken, I cut the recipe in half basically and was quite pleased with the results of my chicken with 20 cloves of garlic. Two small heads yielded 20 cloves, but I'm certainly sure you can count out 20 cloves if you're only using one chicken!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
by Ina Garten from Barefoot in Paris
, Copyright 2004

Yields 6 servings

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons
Cognac, divided [I used regular brandy]
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic [place the head of garlic upside down on your cutting board then whack therapeutically once or twice with a saucepan or skillet] and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

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