Cleaning Out the Pantry - Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
As I've said before, I am on a mission to purge my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. It's so easy to buy this or that, and the next thing you know, it's five years later.
Recently, I was cleaning out my cupboards, and replacing some spices. Lo and behold, I found a stash of garlic that I'd forgotten about, and some of the bulbs were starting to sprout. What is one to do when faced with a huge amount of garlic that must be used, and quickly?
I turned to Ina Garten, and made her Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. Much to my surprise, Master Chow liked this dish (I thought it might be a bit too fancy for him). I think the loads of garlic won him over.
I didn't have any cream, which the recipe calls for, but I did have some creme fraiche that I needed to use up. Yahoo! Another item that needed to be used, crossed off my list! And I didn't have two whole chickens, but I did have a package each of chicken breasts, thighs, and legs, sitting in my freezer. I felt very efficient and frugal after making this dish. Peeling the garlic wasn't too bad either, after briefly boiling the garlic cloves - the skins slipped right off. If the bulbs are sprouting, just cut out the green shoot before you use the garlic.
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten, from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home
3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths, or 6-7 pounds of chicken parts
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used the remnants of a bottle of rose, and it worked just fine)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (or heavy cream, but do not use sour cream because it will curdle)
Separate the cloves of garlic 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 with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat (you don't want the oil and butter to burn, so keep an eye on it). In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Use tongs to turn the chicken, as you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down.
When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute the rest of the chicken.
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 40 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 (do NOT just add the flour to the pot, or you will end up with a lot of lumps). Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the creme fraiche, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.