Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Well, according to this blog it has been almost a year since I last cared about food. That’s simply not true. So much has gone down (pun intended) that I should have documented here. I started a butter business, for example. That was really fun…while it lasted. My dreams were shattered by the U.S. Department of Ag, but who hasn’t had that happened to them, right?

Here's the evidence:

I still have some hope for my little butter idea, but it’s not for right now.

As I look through my photo uploads, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of dishes I need to write about. Food is really one of the most compelling aspects of my life. I wish it could work out that somehow it would parlay itself into a career. Teaching English just isn’t working out, if you haven’t heard. I blame the economy.

Enough with the heavy stuff, dear reader: what I mean to say is that there will now be talk of food here at this domain.

First up, Ina’s Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.

I’d written this dish into the meal plan as a special treat for having Randy & Sam over for dinner mid-week (the weekends fill up so fast!). However, I got a call for a job interview the next day & decided it was just too much to pull off on a weeknight when I needed to prepare my talking points for 7th grade reading strategies that night.

Two nights later, on Friday, when I was waiting to hear back from the interview, I decided I needed lots of projects to keep me busy that day so I wasn’t just waiting by the phone. Prepping for this dinner was one of them, but it surprisingly didn’t require too much work.

As a result I ended up making a cake from scratch that day & you’ll hear all about that soon enough.

Mark had already cut the chicken into 8ths with our snazzy new poultry sheers. All I had to do was prep the sides. And it turned out like this:

Ina's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

  • 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 (Ina + Hennessy = a visual I love)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used a pinch of dried)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream


Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside. (I did this way earlier in the day)

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.

We amended our recipe because we only had a 5 lb. chicken. We multiplied everything by 2/3rds & approximated the amounts accordingly.

All I've got to say is "Hennessy Gravy!" (It doesn't really taste like alcohol, but it sure is nice)

Since you're cooking the garlic, it becomes sweet and very mild.

The mashed potatoes were simple and accommodating: just potatoes with 2% milk, butter, salt, and pepper.

The asparagus was tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, & roasted in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then I added some parm/romano and let it cook in the oven on low (200 degrees) until everything else was done. It might have gotten a little over cooked, but it was still good (I should have turned the oven down sooner).

So that's it: food that incites a religious experience.

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